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Babyproofing Your Backyard

Your baby's on a constant quest to touch and taste everything she can, and that includes rusty gardening shears. Childproofing the backyard requires a big initial effort and constant vigilance after that. Scan the yard for hazards before every trip outside. And once the yard is baby-friendly, check that every exterior door is fitted with a heavy-duty childproof lock.

RELATED: Childproofing and Safety at Home

Make a Sweep

Before your baby explores the yard for the first time, get down on your own hands and knees to make a thorough search. Look for trash, broken glass, broken bricks, splinters on wooden furniture and decks, sharp edges on playground equipment and fallen branches that could harm a child. If your yard is fenced, move anything a child could use to boost herself up and over the fence. Empty out any play pools, buckets or other water containers, and move your hose into the shade. Water left in a hose sitting in the sun could scald a child.

Inspect Ground Cover and Plants

Pea gravel or fine mulch may look attractive as landscaping, but to a baby it looks attractive as a snack. If your yard includes ground covering that could pose a choking hazard, either replace it or fence it off until your child is past toddlerhood and can be taught what not to put in her mouth. Keep children out of the backyard for 48 hours after applying pesticides or fertilizer. Inspect the plant life in your yard, pulling and removing mushrooms and berries that you find, and looking for and eradicating poison ivy, oak and sumac.

Close Off the Pool

A backyard pool should have at least two layers of protection. Install a fence that completely surrounds the pool or check your existing fence to verify its safety. A fence should be at least 4 feet tall, with vertical slats spaced no more than 4 inches apart or made of diamond shapes that are no larger than 1 3/4 inches across. The fence gate should lock and be self-latching. You may also install alarms on the gate or pool itself that alert you when they sense movement.

RELATED: Swimming Pool Safety

Securing Your Deck

Install hardware-mounted baby gates at the top of any deck staircase. A staircase of more than a few steps may also require a gate at the bottom. Next, measure the distance between the deck balusters, and the distance from the deck boards to the bottom rail. If any gaps are greater than 3 1/2 inches, install deck netting or banister guards to prevent a little one from slipping through.

Photo via David Woolley/Photodisc/Getty Images

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