With this amazing developmental milestone also comes new childproofing needs… I prefer to call this toddler proofing. Straight up, this post has some repeat from my baby proofing tips for crawlers and climbers but the walking milestone provides a great check-in point to revisit what’s working with your childproofing “program” and what isn’t. Let’s get a refresh on the best home safety tips for new walkers.
A New Grasp on Life. Your child now has way more reach and wing span then they ever did before because they are growing, upright and MOBILE. Hello oven knobs on the stove, the ice-maker dispenser, glass picture frames on the side table, the windows – the list goes on. Oye.
Baby Proofing Tip: Just as you got down to eye level for your new crawler, it’s time to do the same exercise for your newly walking Padawan.
See what stands out or what would look interesting from a color, shape and size perspective, AKA the DVD eject button in our house. Thoroughly review any item in the rooms located up to about 4 feet in height and remember to baby-proof for stepping stone access points as well which could be items located higher than your shoulders, like window cords. As I’ve mentioned before, the best course of action is removing the item entirely or relocating items nose-bleed high in a secure area only adults can reach.
Another great piece of childproofing advice is to make sure you look for any small items that could be a choking hazard and read about how to spot them and ditch them fast here.
Room with a View. Window safety should be a concern at any phase as falls from windows are one of the most dangerous injuries for little kiddos. If you live in an older apartment or 2+ story home with push-out windows, double hung windows, or if your windows swing open wide without restraint, make sure you secure them with window guards, window stops or other window safety items. I was surprised by the difference in options as products are like fixed mounted bars that prevent a child from climbing through – not gonna lie, they look like jail bars. There are window locks that prevent the child opening the window and there are window stops that prevent the window from opening past a certain height.
Window Safety Tip: Take note that certain window safety products including the window guards are not approved for sleeping spaces or emergency access. It goes without saying that you want the fireman to have full access to get into the room ASAP. Make sure you check if the product is safety code compliant with an emergency release and works with your window material (vinyl vs. wood).
Gates, Gates, Gates. By now I hope you feel like I’m a broken record because having hardware mounted safety gates installed at the top of your stairs is a non-negotiable.
I’ll Take Door #3. Man, dem babies love to mess with doors. It’s like a beginner Rubik’s cube for littles. I have watched my son fiddle with the knob over and over and while his determination is astonishing, the possibilities are not awesome when that door leads to unsafe gear. There are a few babyproofing items available to prevent unwanted door breeches including traditional door knob protectors, door lever covers and other bi-fold door protectors.
Truth be told, we really didn’t have a good experience with our door knob protectors as they were more adult-proofed than childproofed. If you have smaller door knobs, like we do in our older home, be prepared for some frustrating moments. Let’s just say I couldn’t get out the front door once. I’ve seen sites recommend putting a sock on the doorknob and securing it with a rubber band. I’m trying hard not to make any college jokes here but this DIY trick isn’t a great idea. Persistent kiddos can pull these socks off and then the rubber band can become a choking hazard.
Door slamming protection is still important at this phase as your child will now have even more weight and force to slam a door.
Overall, I still recommend these frustrating items to be installed on the most important doors in the home, like the bathroom door, because it is a layer of protection.
Door Safety Tip: Make sure that your bathroom door doesn’t have the ability to only lock from the inside.
The Cook’s Corner. In my research, many parents don’t do much proofing in the kitchen outside of putting on cabinet safety locks and removing or relocating sharp objects and chemicals. But you would be surprised how many proofing items are made specifically for a family’s favorite room. These items include stove range protectors, oven locks, oven knob covers, refrigerator locks, ice-machine/dispenser covers, and appliance straps.
We use the stove knob covers and they keep falling off our stove knobs if I so much as sneeze. This was more a miss than hit unfortunately. Make sure you are verbally reinforcing to your toddler that playing with the stove or oven is a big time NO. Keep this same safety session going with your kiddo and the BBQ outside as the knobs look almost identical.
Kitchen Safety Tip: Keep the handles on any pots or pans aimed away from the front of the range where you child can reach up and grab them causing a falling hazard or allow them access to scalding food or boiling water. Yikes.
Unstable Objects. Did I cut and paste this header from the post on Climbing? YES. I. DID! Unstable objects are actually really important to childproof when dealing with a new walker. A quick story: When my guy started walking I would say it was more like selective non-falling. That kid was constantly in pancake mode and before each fall, he was reaching out for stability on pant legs, the coffee table, couches, our cat, toys etc. My dude got his first goose egg and even busted a lip in the process of the first few weeks of walking and our place was childproofed to the nines.
The point of the story being that you child is going to be very unstable for weeks or months after learning to walk. Per the climber post, anti-tip straps and furniture stability straps are a necessary install for any large piece of furniture or TVs. Make sure tall free standing lamps or full length mirrors are safe from your child’s reach as you don’t want them toppling down.
OK, that’s a ton of info! Enjoy your child’s walking, it’s exciting for the whole family and just remember they will be running before you know it!