Your Toddler: 13-18 Months

How To Child-Proof Once Baby Is Walking

When your baby starts walking, the safety latches and gates alone won’t cut it. Now what?

When your baby starts walking, the safety latches and gates alone won’t cut it. Now what?

Finally got a walker? Woohoo! Consider those first steps a sign it's time to step up your game in the toddler-proofing department — if you haven't already. So where should you start? “It’s important to see your home from your tot's new perspective,” says Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living. "Get down on your hands and knees to get a bird's eye view of the problems.”

Alison Rhodes, who founded and operates a child-proofing business in the Tri-State area, says baby will pull everything within reach. “So be mindful of window cords, curtains, and tablecloths. Baby's new exploring skills mean you should also be extra-careful to close doors to rooms that are off-limits,” she says. Consider covering door knobs with old socks, which makes them difficult for baby to grasp.

And that’s not all. Our experts weigh in on all the toddler-proofing precautions you should take to keep your child safe:

Around the house:

• Install window guards. A window guard should prevent the window from opening more than four inches. Window coverings should also be cordless. Check out for advice and a free retrofit safety kit.
• Secure heavy furniture, paintings, and even televisions to the walls to prevent them from tipping or falling.
• Raise breakables out of reach (read: higher than you think).
• All stairs should have baby gates on the top and bottom.
• Remove all potential choking hazards (as a rule, if the object can fit in an empty toilet roll, it's not safe).
• Cushion all furniture edges with corner guards.
• Block electrical outlets with furniture or outlet covers.
• Elevate plants out of reach (falling leaves can also be a hazard).
• Install a lock on doors to exercise rooms and home offices, where potential dangers abound.

In the nursery:

• Drop crib mattress to the lowest position.
• Remove mobile from above the crib; baby can now stand up and reach it.
• Move crib away from windows.
• Switch to toy chests without lids or with lightweight removable lids; children can get trapped.

In the kitchen:

• Store appliances instead of displaying them on countertops; baby may now be able to reach and pull.
• Install safety latches on the refrigerator, freezer, and oven door if you haven’t already.
• Install guards on stove and oven knobs — and always turn pot handles toward the back wall.
• Install a safety latch on all low cabinets and drawers.
• Store all cleaning products out of sight and reach.
• Lock away plastic wraps and tie bags in knots to avoid strangling and suffocating hazards.
• Secure knives with safety latches.
• Remove fridge magnets; they’re potential choking hazards.

In the bathroom:

• Remove all appliances with cords, including hair dryers, flat irons, etc.
• Secure toilet with a safety lock.
• Secure medicine cabinet, and store shampoos and other bath items instead of leaving them in the shower.

In the garage and backyard:

• Install an auto-reverse motion sensor on garage door so it will recoil if it detects movement.
• If you have a pool, install a four-sided isolation fence that’s at least five feet high and a locked cover on the hot tub.
• Install safety latches and locks on all sliding glass doors.

By Alexandra Finkel