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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?

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 SafetyMom.com 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 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 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.

-- Alexandra Finkel

See More: Toddler Basics , Safety