Up until my daughter was five months old, I was spoiled. I could put her down in one place, turn my attention to something else for a moment, then look up to find her exactly as I’d left her. Those days quickly became a distant memory as she began scooting at alarming speeds. Before long, she was wiggling her way from one corner of the room to another, excitedly grabbing at every object possible in her rapidly expanding world.
I always knew I was supposed to babyproof at some point, but we chose to take a wait and see approach. The problem is, I think we occasionally waited too long to act. Here are some of the warning signs you need to babyproof. I wish I’d heeded to this advice, instead of anxiously ordering gear at the last minute.
Crawling Over Objects on the Floor
In addition to her toys, my daughter often plays with household objects. For example, before it ever made it into the recycling bin, she used to enjoy crawling over a meal delivery kit box.
While adorable and a great excuse for me to clean out the dishwasher while she explored her makeshift jungle gym, I wasn’t prepared for how quickly she would test her new skills on our staircase. Before I knew it, she was pulling up on the bottom step and lifting her leg, the start of her ascent to the second level. This took me off guard because she was still a few months away from walking.
From conquering boxes, pillows, stuffed animals, and even my husband as she crawled all over him on the ground, that was a sign to babyproof. I didn't understand that right away and now I know that crawling over objects is a warning sign that it’s time to install the baby gate on the stairs.
Increased Curiosity and Mobility
My daughter has always been an observer of her surroundings, but she really kicked it into overdrive at about eight months old. While riding along on my hip, I noticed her craning her neck to see around my shoulder. Then, while sitting in the playroom, she would lean back to see what was making noise down the hallway.
Curiosity and ever-increasing mobility is an exciting, yet terrifying combination. I was enthralled with watching her mind develop and expand, but was honestly surprised when she followed me into the kitchen one day and started opening all of the lower drawers and cabinets.
Of course, curiosity should be celebrated, but only after ensuring your child’s environment is safe and secure. In our case, by the time she was crawling over to an electrical outlet, or pulling out pots and pans, we were long overdue for outlet covers and a child safety lock kit. Amazon to the rescue!
Stretching and Reaching
We used to have cute coffee table coasters, books, candles and other decorative items in our living room. Not anymore!
As she grew taller, my daughter started standing on her tiptoes to see over the tables on either side of our couch, extending her arm and fingers as far and high as she could to swipe objects within her reach. As objects started flying, we scrambled to remove heavy and pointy items, placing them in higher locations. However, coasters and dust collectors should have been the least of our concerns.
It was only a matter of time before she began reaching for permanent objects that can’t be moved, like appliances. She turned our kitchen into a dangerous playscape, hanging off of the oven door handle and constantly fiddling with the gas stove knobs. As soon as she began stretching and reaching for objects within reach, that was a sign it was also time to babyproof and install oven lock and knob covers (and anchor heavy furniture to the walls, install a pool cover, etc., the list goes on and on....).
Despite being relatively late to the game on some of our baby proofing, we are fortunate that our baby has not encountered any major accidents or injuries up until this point. In order to keep it this way, I now view her new skills as a means to predict what she might get into next. No matter if you babyproof the entire house before your due date, or if you take a wait and see approach like we did, ensuring your baby can test her new skills in a safe environment will give you peace of mind, and avoid the need to play catch up.
Katie McCall is a lifestyle portrait photographer, content strategist, and producer based in San Antonio, Texas. When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, she's exploring the world with her husband, darling one-year-old daughter and tiny pup. If you’d like, please follow their adventures on Instagram (@hersideproject)!