Your growing baby is becoming more mobile -- from rolling over to crawling, he is now wobbling on his own two feet. Playtime for your baby takes on a whole new meaning as he begins walking and even running. For safety, make a fun yet secure play zone to keep your baby happily entertained for hours.
At the age of 6 months to a year, your active baby can play and explore independently but still needs your supervision. You can leave your baby unattended as you work nearby, but the play area should be clearly within seeing and hearing distance. So if you are in the kitchen, choose an area in an attached dining room or set up your desk in one end of the living room and make the play zone in the other. Ensure that the play area is inaccessible to the top or bottom of a staircase. Also make sure that furniture is securely anchored to walls and remove any smaller chairs and tables if possible. Your brave little bundle of joy will try to climb stairs, bookshelves, sofas, chairs, dressers and coffee tables. Keep the play area contained by using safety gates or strategically placing large soft pillows. Just be sure that you can easily and quickly access the area when you need to.
Use toys to keep your baby happily entertained and stimulated for hours. Choose toys that he can play with in multiple ways, such as soft building blocks that are bright and engaging. Check the age restrictions on toys and follow the guidelines carefully. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that small toys or toys with small parts that can come off are choking hazards for babies. This includes small cars that your children may play with. Additionally, keep toys with magnets, such as magnetic alphabet letters on your fridge out of the reach of babies and small children. If swallowed, the magnets can cause damage to your baby's digestive tract.
Your baby is still a wobbly walker as he learns to balance on his feet. If your designated play zone has tiles, wood flooring or other hard surfaces, lay down rubber mats to protect him from falls. Ensure that mats and rugs are large enough to avoid slipping; if you have carpets with a fringe, your baby may pull or chew on the threads. These can be choking hazards and should be removed. Babies are closer to the floor and will spot things you may not notice. Keep floors thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned, so your baby doesn't find dust balls or coins that he puts in his mouth for a taste test.
The best way to baby-proof a designated play area is to get down on your hands and knees and view everything from your baby's perspective. Look for things that might tempt your baby's curiosity. Cover open outlets, keep dangling lamp plugs and cords for blinds out of reach, and remove knick knacks and books that your baby might reach for. Lock cupboards and drawers and cover sharp table and furniture corners with soft foam or plastic protectors. Make sure that there is nothing that your baby can cover his face with. This includes tablecloths, napkins and even some soft toys.
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