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For some reason, when you’re pregnant and in full fledged baby prep mode, so many people try to add one more thing to your list: baby proofing.
There are checklists galore out there telling you to add baby proofing your home to the list of other things you do actually need to do before baby arrives.
But do you know what you don’t need to add to that checklist before your baby arrives?
So when do I need to start baby proofing?
Well, you can do it in stages or all at once – that is up to you.
Babies do grow into mobile people incredibly quickly.
Mine did much faster than I was anticipating (even though I was warned it would happen that way).
But those first couple of weeks and months, they’re not going anywhere.
I do want to remind you, though, that this is just a guide.
Some children skip the “typical” progressions (ie. some children walk before crawling), so you’ll want to try to stay ahead of your kiddo where you can. Its not the end of the world to be baby proofed before you need to be.
Before baby arrives
Before bringing home your baby one thing you can add to your checklist (if you want) is to brainstorm what products you’ll need when you’re ready to start baby proofing your home. That way you can add these items to your baby registry, even if you don’t do anything with them until you’re home and settled with your little one.
Even before your baby is mobile, you should be actively trying to make sure everything on the floor (or close) is baby-friendly.
Its just good practice because sleep deprivation is real and its so much better to be in the habit of having things safe then trying to remember to check the floor for loose change (or whatever you may have lying around) once your kiddo starts becoming more active.
Go ahead and make sure wires are tucked away, or you at least know how to you’ll re-work those stray cords once your baby becomes mobile.
If you have pets, you should create a blockade (like putting up a baby gate) to prevent them from accessing your baby’s space. They need to know that the area is off-limits without you’re approval.
For us, part of preparing our dogs for our son’s arrival included putting up a baby gate into our baby’s room so that the dogs could observe the space without going in. We would let them into the room occasionally when we were in there so they could get a sense of the place and hear some of the sounds that the baby would be playing with, but only under observation.
Once your baby starts to roll (or if you think they’re about to start rolling)
Once your baby can roll, they very well may be rolling all over your home. This is not an exaggeration. Within days of my son rolling over intentionally he was on the move.
At first their precision isn’t great.
So they may get stuck.
Or tangled in cords.
Or bump into things.
So make sure nothing around them is flimsy enough to collapse on them and wires are tucked away.
Once they can start to roll over on their own, its also a good time to make sure you have gates up on any level of you home that you’ll be letting your child lay down.
Because this is really when they begin to explore.
This is also a good time to start blocking outlets if you haven’t already.
Even if they can’t reach the outlets, they may try. Outlets have little finger-sized holes that are strategically placed to be near to the ground. How appealing!
All floor-level cabinets should also be locked up.
Little fingers can easily be pinched and your baby will have no concept that doors slam shut. They’ll have no concept that their fingers are going to be in the way. Or even that getting your fingers slammed in doors is a painful experience.
If you have any sharp edges that they could run into (on a fireplace, for example), you probably also want to look into getting bumper pads to protect them.
Another critical thing to make sure you baby proof? Every single item that could poison your child. These items need to be locked up and out of reach.
While I’m on the subject of baby proofing potentially poisonous items like medicine and cleaning agents, its also a good time to remind you to have Poison Control’s number accessible at all times.
So if you’re in the US you should go ahead and add the number to your phone now: 1-800-222-1222.
Once your baby can sit up
Once your baby can sit up, you want to make sure those outlet covers are on and that you’re not forgetting to replace them after you’ve taken the cover off.
For example, to charge your phone.
If you think this will take some getting used to because you’re forgetful (or because you recognize that you may become more forgetful then you’ve ever been in your life because of sleep deprivation), then start using outlet covers before your little one gets to this point. Or look into purchasing self-closing outlet covers. You want replacing the cover to be instinctive and not occasionally forgotten.
This is also when you’ll want to make sure your furniture is anchored to the walls.
Even if your baby isn’t pulling themselves into the sitting position on their own, the fact that they’re gaining strength is indicative of things to come – like attempting to pull themselves into a standing position. And if they’re pulling themselves up on furniture, they could be pulling that furniture down on themselves.
Once your baby can stand up
Once your baby is able to stand up on their own, you should have the last bits of baby proofing done.
This means any gates that haven’t been installed (properly) yet need to be installed.
Drawers and cabinetry should have locks on them.
If you have a stove with knobs on the front that would be accessible to your child standing (or within a couple of inches), you’ll want knob covers as well.
By this time your baby proofing checklist should have nearly every item checked off.
A note about pets
You may love your pets (I get it, I have two dogs who are my first babies and I adore them) and have done your best to prepare them for the new baby, but please, please, please, please, please remember that they are animals. They should never be left alone with your child – not as a baby, not as a toddler, and certainly not before your kid has the ability to understand how to react around animals responsibly.
Because even if you have the sweetest, snuggliest pet in the world, something completely unknown to you could set them off. And you absolutely do not want to put your child in danger.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of the sweet family pet attacking a child, so please don’t make the assumption that it couldn’t possibly happen with your pet, your child, or in your home.
And this isn’t to scare you and make you want to close your computer and cry.
It is truly just a simple reminder to always keep an eye on all interactions between your child and your pet. Simple precautions like closing a gate or putting up a play space can be enough to separate them when you can’t have your eye on an interaction (c’mon – sometimes you just need to pee in peace).