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Basic Baby-Proofing Necessities

Close supervision goes a long way, but when your baby darts for the stove in the two seconds your back is turned, you'll be grateful you baby-proofed. Because every home is different, everyone's supply list will be unique. Before shopping, take a hands-and-knees crawl yourself through each room to look for all the places where a curious baby could get into trouble.

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Firmly Attached Gates

She may not walk today or tomorrow, but when your baby does start to move she'll be eager to explore. You'll need a baby gate for the top and bottom of each staircase. Take these tips from KidsHealth when choosing gates. Look for the type that must be attached to walls with hardware rather than pressure mounted, and for gates certified by ASTM/JPMA -- these products have been tested for safety. To prevent a small child from slipping through the gates, choose ones with vertical bars that are no further apart than 2 3/8 inches and that sit no more than 2 inches off the floor.

Latches and Locks

You won't need to latch every last cabinet until you have an active, snack-seeking toddler on your hands. For now, install safety latches on all household drawers and cabinets your baby will be able to reach once she starts walking, including those in the bathroom. Any firearms, medications or sharp objects must be stored out of the child's reach and in a locked container. You'll also need locks for the toilet seat, trashcans, and oven and refrigerator doors, and covers for door and oven knobs. Every window, even those on the first floor, needs a safety device. Install window guards or locks that prevent windows from opening more than a few inches. A child can fall from a window open as little as 5 inches, says KidsHealth.

Guards, Straps and Brackets

Little ones are notoriously uncoordinated, so protect your child from getting hurt when she inevitably runs into furniture. Buy edge and corner guards to install on coffee tables, cabinets and desks. Furniture anchors, straps and brackets attach things like nightstands, stereo cabinets and bookshelves to the walls so they won't tip over. Even freestanding stoves and ranges need to be secured with anti-tip brackets, the Consumer Product Safety Commission advises. Install brackets next to windows so curtain pulls can be tied up out of reach.

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More Must-Have Supplies

Baby-proof every outlet with sliding outlet covers that snap shut when not in use, or buy a protector for each plug. Plugs should be hard to remove from the outlet and too large for a child to choke on. Power strips need covers too, so baby can't reach the plugs. Every bathtub faucet needs a safety cover, and area rugs should have non-slip pads underneath. The CPSC also recommends installing a carbon monoxide alarm near every sleeping area and installing smoke detectors on each floor of your home as well as in every bedroom.

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