And they’re off! A little one’s first time crawling is no doubt a treasured entry in your baby’s development diary. But once the excitement fades a little, it’s time to face the brand-new set of challenges a curious, determined and mobile tiny person presents.
Fear not, though, as there are lots of simple steps you can take to cushion your baby from harm, and cushion your nerves as you watch them explore.
Prevent bumps and falls
You can usually expect your child to start crawling at around the eight-month mark, so it’s good planning to start child-proofing your home a little time before this.
If you have stairs, be sure to install safety gates at the top and bottom. Secure any furniture that might easily fall or be pulled over, and attach soft corner guards to any hard or sharp edges. Never leave your child alone on a sofa, highchair or bed, from which they might fall.
It is also vital to lock away all hazardous or poisonous substances, such as cleaning products, medications or poisonous house plants.
If you have a gas, electric or open fire, you should fit a good-quality, sturdy fire guard. Don’t hold hot food or drinks while carrying your baby, or leave them within their reach. Try to limit the amount of time your baby is out in the sun, and make sure their head is protected with a hat and a child-friendly sun screen while out on hot, sunny days.
Don’t get a nasty shock
Keep electrical wires and appliances out of your baby’s sight and reach, and unplugged when not in use. You can also fit electrical socket covers, to protect your child in the event that they try to touch the outlet.
For the safest bath, use a non-slip mat in the tub, and fill it so the water just covers your baby’s legs. Never, of course, leave your child unsupervised in the bath. Test with your elbow or use a thermometer to make sure the water is warm, not hot – aim for around 35 degrees C. It’s a good idea to run the cold water in first, so that your baby isn’t near the hot water.
Depending on your baby’s stage of development, they may be on solid food. Always make sure you mash, puree or cut up the food into pieces small enough for your baby to comfortably chew (this will change as they develop more teeth and become better at chewing).
Cook the food thoroughly, but leave it to cool down before giving it to your baby. Watch your child carefully as they eat for signs of choking. If your baby seems unable to cry or cough, or turns blue, follow the recommended first aid instructions for a choking baby.
It’s best to avoid using fluffy bedding such as sheepskin or to cover your baby in their cot, and you should remove toys from your baby’s crib while they are sleeping. As soon as your baby can pull themselves up on their hands and knees, you should be sure to remove any hanging toys over the crib that they could reach and grab.
If they should suffer a bump…
No matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable that at some point, your baby will suffer a bump or bruise. Don’t beat yourself up, but do seek medical advice if your baby:
- Falls from any significant height
- Takes a bump or a knock that results in bleeding or bad bruising, or sustains a nasty burn
- Suffers an electric shock
- Takes a hard knock to the head, particularly if followed by a change in behaviour
- Eats or drinks something toxic
- Has had a near-choking episode (even if they seem to be breathing properly afterwards, it’s advisable to have them checked over)
If it’s within your means, private healthcare facilities such as Highgate Private Hospital in London can help to take some of the stress out of early parenthood. Highgate Private Hospital offers consultations from some of the finest doctors in the UK as part of its acclaimed private GP service.
Such services are worth considering if you want to avoid the extra anxiety of long waiting times, and would like your baby to benefit from a high standard of medical care in an immaculate, relaxing environment.