Once a baby takes their first steps and gets a taste of that independence, it's unlikely they'll want to sit down any time soon. With all the new exploration (and safety hazards) there are some products for when baby starts walking that are worth the investment. This new mobility opens up a whole new world of toys, fashion, and, unfortunately, bumps and bruises.
In those early days of walking, babies are often so excited by their new skill that they're completely unaware of their limits. Pediatrician Whitney Casares, M.D. tells Romper that during this time parents are tasked with finding the balance between "ensuring safety and promoting mobility." It's a hard line to walk, but parents can equip themselves with products that will make this a little easier. "This is the moment to focus on purchasing babyproofing and safety equipment like door latches, baby gates, and furniture wall straps if you haven’t already," Dr. Casares adds, and "research[ing] ways to help your little one get around easily."
Being proactive about safety and setting limits now will also help as your baby transitions into the toddler stage, which is full of big emotions and the desire to really assert independence. "When moms and dads proactively remove potential hazards and focus on purchasing and installing safety-proofing equipment ahead of time... the toddler stage can be less frustrating and more enjoyable," Dr. Casares says, because they won't find themselves "constantly saying 'no' or needing to quickly intervene to help their children avoid dangerous situations."
Even though the transition to walking can be scary, it can also be a lot of fun! Here are some product ideas to help you find that balance between keeping your little one safe and encouraging their new skill.
1. Door Knob Covers
Covering your door knobs (or handles) will help keep your little explorer out of rooms that aren't safe. The cover doesn't need to be overly complicated, just something that requires a little attention to open.
2. Top Of Stairs Baby Gate
As Dr. Casares explains, "early walkers are also prone to falling easily... baby gates are critical to preventing life-threatening head injuries from major falls." When selecting a baby gate for the top of the stairs, make sure it is designed for that spot, because not all gates are safe for use at the top.
3. Furniture Wall Straps
Once your little one starts walking, climbing is not far behind. Suddenly they have all these new (vertical) spaces available to them, and they'll definitely want to climb up shelves like they're ladders. Anchoring furniture to the wall will help prevent a fall from turning into something potentially much worse.
4. A Safe Storage System
Dr. Casares says, "Once kids start walking, they’re at higher risk of accessing dangerous chemicals under counters and sharp objects in closets or in kitchen areas." Consider storing some of the more harmful things you don't use regularly in a storage box that locks, and store it on a high shelf.
5. Bottom Of Stairs Baby Gate
Gates for the bottom of the stairs are, thankfully, easier to find than those for the top of the stairs, but they're equally as important. You don't want your little one to find themselves halfway up the staircase and come tumbling down.
6. Supportive Shoes
"When you’re at home, you won’t need to worry about footwear — letting your child go barefoot indoors can help her learn how to walk steadily," says Dr. Casares. However, when you take your new walker outside, you'll want to make sure they have some good shoes with a hard sole to help protect their feet from dirt, rocks, and sharp objects.
7. Umbrella Stroller
Once your baby can start walking, they won't want to stop. Still, there are moments where they need to be in a stroller so investing in an inexpensive, lightweight option will ensure you have a stroller handy when you need it, but won't take up much space.
8. Push Toys
You can help encourage your baby's newfound mobility with a fun push toy. Whatever you choose, be sure it helps keep them upright and is steady enough that it won't roll out from under them if they put a little pressure on it.
9. Cabinet & Drawer Locks
Having cabinet and drawer locks will let you store some of those dangerous things, like cleaners and knives, that you use regularly in an easy-to-reach spot. Lock up anything that your little explorer could hurt themselves with, and possibly also your plastic food storage if you're not a fan of cleaning up messes.
10. Some Cute Bandages
There are going to be skinned knees, scraped elbows, and some scratched up palms in those early days of walking. So, if mom or dad's kiss doesn't magically heal the wound, some fun character bandages might do the trick.
11. Corner Pads
Your little one is going to get some bumps and bruises while trying to master walking, but you can help minimize the risk by covering corners and sharp furniture edges with protectors. It may still hurt to bump into, but at least it won't leave a goose-egg knot on their head.
12. Play Area Baby Gate
Your baby has likely already been crawling all over the place since before they were walking, but they were also easier to catch then. It's helpful to have a portable play space gate that allows you to block off a room as needed or to keep your little one contained to one spot now and then.
13. Toys They Can Chase
Any toy that (safely) shoots something like balls or that can be chased will encourage your little one to walk more, and eventually start running. Just be conscious of where you play with these toys because there needs to be enough space and a relatively level floor for safety.
14. A Kid-Friendly Ice Pack
Hopefully there won't be too many bumps that need ice, but sometimes just the act of holding ice to an injury makes a little one feel a bit safer. Having some ice packs that are ready to use and made just for them will help you calm your kiddo down quickly.
15. Non-Slip Pads
If you don't already have non-slip mats under your rugs or in your bath tub, now is the time to get them. They will help prevent a lot of wipe-outs and a lot of tears.
Your baby learning to walk may feel like you're entering a scary and dangerous stage, but it's really an exciting time. Spend a weekend implementing all the safety measures you need to and then you'll be all set to relax and focus on encouraging your little one's exploration.
Whitney Casares, M.D., MPH, FAAP, author of The New Baby Blueprint: Caring for You and Your Little One and host of The Modern Mommy Doc Podcast