New parents are often told they should baby proof their homes, but then when they start to think about it, they will do so while standing upright, five or six feet off the ground. The most important step is one that usually goes missed: The Crawl Test.
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Yep, that means getting on all fours and pretending to be a curious baby on a baby expedition. You've got to open drawers, look for hairballs and small objects that might be fun to munch on, and see what tiny crevices you can stick your fingers into. You'll be able to spot any potential hazards from your baby's perspective, and fix them before your bundle starts moving.
Here are some things to look for during your Crawl Test:
- Access to wall and floor heaters. Cover them with furniture. Replace old baseboard heating covers with a new perforated steel design.
- Electrical outlets and cords. Place outlet covers over outlets or block them with furniture. Hide cords with a wire hider.
- Cabinet doors. Lock up any cabinets or drawers that contain chemicals or small parts. BabyCenter gives a great suggestion of leaving at least one cabinet door unlocked and filling it with interesting, baby-safe objects to explore: plastic storage containers, wooden spoons, foil pie plates and empty yoghurt containers.
- Fireplace access. You can cover the opening with a magnetic chalkboard for the kid to play with when he or she gets older.
- Pet food and water. This is a tough one. You may just have to be extra vigilant when your baby gets near it.
- Rugs. Place a nonslip rug pads under them to prevent falls.
- Sharp corners on coffee tables. Place safety guards on them, or if that's too aesthetically unpleasing, get a round table instead.
- Potted plants. You may have to place them outside for a while.
After the Crawl Test, you'll see your home from a whole new perspective and it may even motivate you to wipe down those baseboards for the first time ever. Probably not, though. You have a baby.