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Recommended reading Keeping baby safe Stages: 7 to 12 months

A baby’s development is in a state of constant change, and with every new milestone they reach, there’s an impact on the rest of the whānau.

Changing baby, changing roles

Keeping them safe is one of those roles that changes as baby changes. Before a baby is mobile, parents have ultimate control over their child’s environment, experiences and interactions. With increased mobility, baby can start interacting with whatever’s within reach, or will move to what they find most interesting in the near environment.

Many environments to consider

Parents and whānau need to think about the possible dangers for baby as baby becomes more mobile, develops more independence, is present in a variety of different environments and is cared for by different people.

Meanwhile, whānau will have places in their own home where they do cooking, laundry, relax, sleep, study, wash and use the toilet. Whānau will need to start thinking about discipline — how they’ll positively guide and teach their pēpi to keep them safe in and around the different rooms of their home, and also when baby is out and about with others.

Getting mobile

Mobility includes many different stages: rolling from tummy to back and back to tummy, bottom shuffling, ‘crab’ or ‘side’ crawling, ‘commando’ crawling, and crawling using hands and feet (‘creeping’). Babies crawl at different ages — some crawl as early as 3 to 4 months old, while others may be over 12 months old.

Post crawling they’ll start kneeling, standing against furniture, cruising along furniture, walking across gaps between furniture, and then walking away with no holding on or support.

Soon, the climbing begins too — just on low objects to start with, for example a cushion on the floor, and then up onto the couch, on chairs, up steps and so on.

More and more places and objects within the home are likely to receive baby’s attention. As baby develops each new skill, whānau need to adjust the ‘baby-safe zone’ accordingly.

Safety with caregivers

Keeping baby safe goes beyond their physical safety. It also includes providing everything that a child needs for optimum growth and development, providing emotional safety and protecting them from any form of neglect or abuse. Parents need to heighten their awareness of the possible risks and plan ahead to remove or reduce them.

Parents will also want to consider carefully who they’re happy leaving baby with, and whether they feel confident that baby will be safe when parents are not around.

Life is inherently risky, and there are many aspects to consider around baby’s safety. By giving whānau information and helping increase their awareness of dangers to baby, they can eliminate or minimise these risks, and create safer, healthier and happier environments for pēpi, and for the whole whānau.

Having some time outside is important too — fresh air, sunshine, a little bit of rain or wind. A change of scene may be good for both parents and baby.

Having some fun that includes interesting experiences together every day is a great way to help build a healthy relationship. Going out and touching the trees, grass and flowers, seeing the sky and clouds, birds, butterflies, caterpillars and snails can be great ‘no cost’ adventures. Talking to baby about what they can see and hear gives them the language that goes with the experience.

If a family is lucky enough to have a garden, then encourage them to take a look outside to see what’s there. If they don’t have a garden, there may be someone else’s garden that they can spend some time in, or a park nearby.

On a wet day a walk around the supermarket or department store to just look without having to buy anything can provide a change and something new to talk about with baby.

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