Congratulations — and welcome to a whole new phase of babyhood! Now that your infant has mastered movement on all fours, she's able to explore her world, pique her curiosity, and engage in some skill-boosting activities (like scooting toward the ball instead of crying for you to bring it to her). But along with your baby’s newfound mobility comes the potential for mischief as she crawls toward trouble spots (the electrical outlet, the cat’s litter box). So it’s time to start thinking about crawling safety. These tips will help ensure that your little mover and shaker segues into crawling with as few bumps and bruises as possible.
Make things safe for your little crawler. Haven't gotten around to making your home a safe place for baby? Now is the time to get serious about babyproofing.
Here are some crawling safety basics:
- Move electrical and window cords out of the way; plug up electrical outlets; lock cabinets that contain dangerous items (think poisons, medicines, sharp objects, or breakables), and get rid of items on the floor that are small enough to fit into your baby's mouth and possibly choke her (since your baby will mouth anything she gets her hands on!).
- Section off any danger zones (like the bathroom) by installing a safety gate at the entrance of the room or area or keeping the door closed.
- If your house has multiple levels, you’ll need to install a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs — that way your baby won’t be able to crawl up from the bottom and tumble back down. (Though you may want to put the bottom gate a few steps up from the landing so that your baby has a chance to practice her crawling skills on the bottom steps.)
Crawl as a couple. A great way to help you understand the view your child has of the world — and see what potential dangers she may encounter (even if you have baby proofed) is to get down on the ground and crawl with her. You may notice a long-forgotten possible choking hazard under the armchair or discover that the edge of your coffee table is sharper than you thought! Crawling around with your baby will also give you the chance to teach her some crawling safety tips — i.e., what’s okay for her to grab and what’s not. It may take a while for her to catch on to the fact that she can’t have the food in the dog’s bowl but she can play with the Tupperware in the kitchen cabinet. Just keep at it though — after enough repetition on your part, she’ll get the picture.
Level the playing field (and floor). Make sure that wood floors are free from splinters, nails, or any other sharp objects so that your baby has a smooth surface on which to roam. If you don’t have many carpeted areas in your home, you may want to consider getting a nonslip rug or floor padding (you can find colorful floor pads made especially for little ones at baby stores) to give your baby the chance to crawl on some soft surfaces — and reduce any bruising to her tender knees.
Dress for success. You may love the way your little fashionista looks in frilly dresses and skirts, but while she’s learning to crawl, these girlie garments could slow her down and frustrate her. But style doesn’t have to take a backseat to crawling safety. Simply don your baby in comfy pants (the better to cushion her knees) or lightweight leggings in warmer weather. (If you really feel the need to protect your little crawler’s gams when she’s sporting shorts in the summer, there are knee pads you can buy.) Got a baby boy? Make sure his pants aren’t too baggy or they’ll bunch up at the knees and interfere with his efforts.
Maintain an eagle eye. No matter what crawling safety precautions you’ve taken in your home, you’ll still need to watch your newly minted crawler at all times to make sure she doesn’t get into any mischief or get hurt. The only time you can safely take your eyes off your baby is when she’s in her crib or play yard. And remember that when you’re not at home, your little crawler will be extra interested in exploring the new environment, which means you'll need to be extra vigilant about keeping tabs on her!