A baby’s first steps are a major milestone. After being carried around for months, and then crawling around on hands and knees, children and parents alike deserve to be incredibly proud when baby starts walking because it’s a major accomplishment. There are a few practical matters that you should consider while you’re celebrating your child’s success to keep any accidents from happening due to their new mobility. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to start sorting things out well before babies start walking, so that your joy doesn’t have to be paired with a frantic search for potential dangers that have become newly accessible to your walking child. When kids start walking, their whole worlds open up. With a little bit of foresight, you can make sure that their big new world is a safe one.
The need for covering electrical outlets is an old standby because it’s true. Walking and crawling kids can find any number of small metal objects and slip them into the slots in electrical outlets. This can lead to electrocution or even death. The flat plastic kind are the best because they are difficult to remove. But be careful when you’re charging any of your devices, as those are easier to pull out of a plug and leave the outlet exposed.
In The Kitchen
Now that your baby is walking, they’re going to want to hobble into whatever room their parents are in. If that’s the kitchen, that expedition can come with a whole host of new hazards that you can prevent by planning ahead. When you’re cooking, keep all the pots and pans on the back burners, where kids can’t touch them and burn themselves. This also makes sure that the burners, which will stay hot for long after you finish cooking, stay as far away as possible from their curious hands. Ignore the cliché: always watch your pots of boiling water, so that a walking toddler can’t find a way to pull the pot down onto themselves and cause serious burns or scalds.
Drawers and Cabinets
Do you know which ones of your drawers and cabinets contain dangerous objects? Chances are, it’s more than you think. We’ve all been taught to keep our medicine cabinets secured from children’s prying hands, and medication bottles these days are mostly made with child safety tops for the same reason. But there are so many other dangerous drawers and cabinets in our homes, and most of them are not as obvious as the medicine cabinet. From office supplies like scissors and fountain pens to and kitchen utensils like knives, our drawers and cabinets are full of ordinary items that we typically don’t consider that can be hazardous to children.
Keep kids away from the chemicals under the sink with child locks, and block off your office or workshop with child gates. This is a good compromise because it will keep your walking baby safe from dangerous items without you having to change the whole setup of your room. Even if you think your drawer or cabinet is safe for kids, it’s a good idea to go through it again. Anything sharp, pointy chemical, or small enough to swallow is dangerous – and you might be surprised how things we stow away in junk drawers that fit this description.
Tables and Shelves
Tables and shelves are all dangerous to newly walking babies, for several reasons. You might want to consider padding the sharp edges of your coffee tables so that kids don’t run into them and cut, bruise or otherwise injure their delicate eyes or faces. And it’s not just the furniture itself that’s a danger, but also the objects on top. Any books, ornaments, or decorative items sitting around can be snatched or groped at and accidentally knocked over. If it’s just pens and papers, this will just be a nuisance, but heavy objects like books and paperweights can actually hurt kids if they fall on them. And anything fragile like a vase can shatter if it’s knocked over, and kids can cut themselves on the pieces. If you want to keep flowers on the table, make sure to keep them in safe plastic containers, but it’s probably best to keep them up and away so you don’t end up with water on the floor. Clean up dishes and plates as soon as you finish eating so that kids can’t knock them off the table and make a mess. Beverages and hot drinks like coffee and tea are especially risky because kids can scald themselves on the hot liquid, and also cut themselves on broken pieces of mugs and glasses.
Slips on the Stairs
Falls from stairs are a leading cause of emergency room visits for kids under two years old. It’s no coincidence that this is right around the age that kids start walking. To keep toddlers from taking a dangerous tumble, install baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. The top is a no-brainer, but the bottom is important too, in case the child decides to explore upwards and then slips and falls back down. Just a few stairs can be incredibly dangerous if a child hits their head. Gates that are screwed into the wall or handrails are the best kind to install at the tops of stairs because they are the most secure. For the bottom gate, you can use a pressure mounted gate, which can be installed without using screws.
New Adventures, New Dangers
When kids start walking, every room in the house becomes a potential adventure, and therefore a potential hazard. You can use baby gates to close off entire rooms or sections of the house that can’t be effectively babyproofed, like garages or storage closets. This saves you the trouble of having to completely reorganize rooms if it’s impractical to do so.
Start planning for baby safety well before your child is walking or crawling, getting down on your hands and knees so that you experience the level they’ll be at. You might be surprised at just how many ordinary objects are accessible and potentially dangerous to walking babies.