Baby-proof vs Baby-friendly

Crawling awayWhen most parents start thinking about how to prepare a room for a mobile baby, we think about how to make it safe for her. We make sure to cover all electrical outlets, keep window curtain or blind cords well out of reach, hide all electrical cords behind furniture or in hide-a-cord containers, lock up drawers and cabinets, install door stoppers, pad hard edges on furniture, and all of the other things on our babyproofing checklist.

Then after every checkbox has been ticked, we get down on our hands and knees and explore the room to see it from a baby’s point of view, in case we missed any other potential hazards. Then at last, we breathe a sigh of relief, knowing we’ve provided the safest environment possible for our little ones.

The room is baby-proof, but is it baby-friendly?

Baby-proof vs Baby-friendly

Baby-proof means creating a safe environment that keeps your baby out of danger. Baby-friendly means creating an environment that allows your baby to play, explore and discover on her own within the limits of a safe environment.

Making a room baby-proof is all about saying no while making a room baby-friendly is all about saying yes.

They might seem mutually exclusive on the surface, but they’re not.

How to Make Your Baby’s Room Baby-friendly

While you’re crawling around on all fours in that last step of baby-proofing, take that opportunity to really think about how your baby is going to use that room now that she’s on the move. Yes, your baby is the one using the room, not you!

Floor bed
Having a floor bed instead of a crib allows your baby to crawl in and out of bed independently. After your baby has learned to fall asleep on her own and has associated sleep with her floor bed, she’ll be able to crawl into bed when she needs to sleep, and crawl out of it and explore her safe environment or play with a toy when she’s no longer tired.

The mattress should be placed on the floor in a corner of the room, following the usual safety precautions as a crib:

  • Choose a firm mattress, not a soft one. Read related article: How to Choose a Floor Bed Mattress
  • Don’t put pillows, comforters or sheepskins on the mattress.
  • Use only a fitted bottom sheet.

The mattress should be pushed right up against the two walls in a corner of the room. Try the “two fingers” test: if you can fit two fingers between the mattress and wall, it’s not safe to use.

Plush anti-slip rug padAdditionally, place a rug with a plush anti-slip pad underneath the floor bed to prevent it from moving around and to provide the baby with a cushioned landing in case she rolls off. For the same reasons you shouldn’t use pillows in a crib, don’t use pillows or pillowy surfaces around the floor bed.

Lastly, install a safety gate at the door. A baby-friendly room is a safe place for your baby to explore and play within limits.

Picture frames and wall art visually stimulate your baby, so make sure you hang them at her eye-level. Hanging them at an adult’s eye level would be missing the point of having the artwork there at all.

Since the artwork will be within your baby’s reach, there are a few extra precautions to take:

  • Remove glass from picture frames or use acrylic frames.
  • Secure the frames by screwing them into the wall.

Books and Toys
Low shelvesDisplay age-appropriate toys and books in low, sturdy shelves where your baby can access them instead of a toy box where she will have to dig for them.

It’s a good idea to display just a few toys at a time and put the others away in a closet. Rotating toys will help keep them interesting for your baby.

As in any part of your home, make sure to cover any sharp corners on shelves.

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