Watching your baby takes her first steps can be the thrill of a lifetime. You'll never forget the proud and excited look on her little face. However, those first steps are the harbinger of big changes in both of your lives. Once your baby starts walking, a whole new world of learning and exploration opens up. At the same time, she is exposed to a whole new world of dangers. You can minimize those dangers and keep your precious child safe while she learns about the world around her by baby-proofing your home. Here are some of the most important baby-proofing steps to take.

Start early
Don't wait until your child takes her first step to start the baby-proofing process. Not only do you want your house to be safe before she starts to explore it, but crawling and cruising babies already have the ability to get into unsafe situations. The earlier you baby-proof, the better.

Cover electrical outlets

Babies love to mimic their parents, it's how they learn to navigate the world. When your baby sees you putting electrical cords in outlets, she will want to put things into the outlets too. Unused outlets should be covered with safety plugs. Cords that are plugged into outlets should be locked in place with outlet plug covers to keep baby from pulling them out.

Lock up poisons
All household toxins should be put well out of baby's reach and in a latched cupboard. Cupboard safety latches are readily available and are easy to install with simple hand tools. Soap, bleach, detergent, ammonia, poisons, machine oil, compressed air, prescription drugs, and vitamins should all be locked away from the exploring hands of toddlers.

Watch for choking hazards
Babies explore the world with their mouths. If you watch your child for a while, you will quickly notice that anything that interests her goes straight into her mouth for analysis. All small objects should be kept out of baby's reach. These include jewelry, puzzle pieces, pet food, coins, etc. Anything small enough to fit in baby's mouth can present a choking hazard and should be out of baby's reach.

These tips are just a few of the important steps you need to take to make your home safe for your toddler. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers parents many additional important safety tips on how to childproof their homes.

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