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Alexandra Finkel

How To Child-Proof Once Baby Is Walking

When baby is off and toddling, those safety latches and gates alone won’t cut it. So now what?

Finally have a walker on your hands? Congrats! Consider those first steps a sign it's time to step up your safety game in the toddler-proofing department—if you haven't already (go through our babyproofing for crawlers checklist here). So where should you start? “It’s important to see your home from your child'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 all the potential problems.”

Alison Rhodes, founder of SafetyMom.com, says baby will pull everything within reach, so it's important to “be mindful of window cords, curtains and tablecloths," she says. "Baby's new exploring skills mean you should also be extra-careful to close doors to rooms that are off-limits." 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 child-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 WindowCoverings.org 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 kitchen:

• Store appliances instead of displaying them on countertops; baby may now be able to reach and pull items down
• Install safety latches on the refrigerator, freezer, and oven door
• 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 in drawers with safety latches
• Remove fridge magnets; they’re potential choking hazards

In the bathroom:

• Store 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 nursery:

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

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

Updated August 2016

PHOTO: Getty
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