It’s an exciting time when you know your baby is about to take its first steps. It’s one of the milestones of their childhood you’ll most cherish, right along with their first words. But it can also be one of the scariest. As your baby learns to take those first steps, you’ll have to fight the urge to cover them in bubble wrap to prevent them from being hurt.
As tempting as that might sound, it’s not realistic. That doesn’t stop you though from being worried every time you see them take a wobbly step around the house. Instead of getting some gray hairs about it, there are some ways you can protect your baby’s safety while not limiting their freedom.
Remove Your Coffee Table
Coffee tables are a danger to babies who are just learning to walk. They are often rectangle shape, meaning there are sharp corners that will hurt their head and possibly their teeth if they stumble and bang their face against it.
Coffee table accidents send thousands of children to the emergency room each year. Babies are attracted to them because they are the perfect height for furniture cruising, the skill your baby will develop between walking and crawling.
You may want to consider removing your coffee table for a few months and putting it in storage until your baby is a little steadier on its feet. At the very least, put soft padding on those jutting corners.
Use Baby Gates
If you have a staircase in your house, you should block the bottom or top of it with a baby gate. Stairs are irresistible to babies – they are tempting for a baby to crawl up or down. It’s a challenge and fun at the same time.
But your baby can easily bite off more than he or she can chew with stairs. It doesn’t take much for a baby to fall down a flight of stairs, which can result in serious injuries. To prevent that, you should put a baby gate at every stairway you have.
Be Right Next to Them
All the preparation in the world won’t keep your baby as safe as close supervision will. It can be exhausting to follow your baby around – they can tirelessly crawl, furniture cruise, and attempt their first steps. You might be begging for mercy after the first 30 minutes of sitting on the floor and following them. Or you might have household chores you need to get done or yard work to do.
But if you want to make sure they are safe, there is no substitute for your watchful eye.
Watch Out For Sippy Cups
By the time your baby is walking, they probably will have experimented with sippy cups, whether they are using them for milk or water. You should never allow your baby to carry around their sippy cup and drink from it while they are walking, even as they get more experienced with it.
It’s too easy for a child to lose their balance as they stand and try to tilt their head back to take a sip from their cups. And if they are trying to take a sip as they walk and they fall, it’s easy for the hard spout of a sippy cup to hit their teeth, lip, or the roof of the mouth. That can cause a lot of blood, which will be scary for both of you.
Try only to let them drink from a sippy cup while they are seated to reduce the risk of mouth injuries. If your baby spends a lot of time with a caregiver and you’re not certain how closely they’ll adhere to your rules, look for a sippy cup with a soft spout instead of a hard one or a rimless sippy cup. Either one of those types will make your child less likely to suffer a mouth injury.
Keep the Doors Closed
Even the closest supervision breaks down once in a while. If you have to use the restroom or answer a phone call, it’s easy to take your eyes off your exploring baby.
Try keeping the doors closed in your house at all times. You should have been in the habit of doing that anyway once your baby learned to crawl. If your baby happens to walk in those rooms if the door is left open, there will be more hazards for them to avoid. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve babyproofed the room by putting outlet covers in and attaching bookcases and dressers to the wall.
This blog is part of Fathers Incorporated‘s Drive To Five campaign. The campaign design seeks to reduce father absence by engaging dads at the early stages of their child’s development, which makes them more likely to continue their involvement through all of the stages of their development. For more information visit www.drivetofive.org