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First, it’s rocking. Then, it’s rolling. Eventually, there’s that strange backward propelling motion. Car trouble? Hardly! Your baby is learning to crawl. This is one of a long list of major milestones significant enough to dutifully record in the baby book. It also signifies that life as you know it is over.

Welcome to parenthood. What? You say you’ve already been a parent for over six months? You haven’t truly experienced parenthood until you’ve had the opportunity to worry. And, when your baby begins to move about, the major worries begin!

Your baby is now the “M” word: mobile. What does that mean? It means that when you set the little one down in the family room, they’ll be in the kitchen before you can blink an eye. It means that the crystal vase on the coffee table has to be relocated to a new home that it will occupy for the next few years. It means closely monitoring junior so that he doesn’t get hurt or into trouble.

It’s easy to make your home safe for baby. Most childproofing items can be found in your local discount or grocery store. Follow these simple steps and you, too, can childproof your home.

Think Like a Baby

The very first step in childproofing your home is to get down and crawl. You need to be able to see things from the baby’s perspective: what is accessible and what is not. Think like a baby: what looks enticing? Anything colorful or unusual is fair game. Are there any small pieces that seem to lure small fingers? Can baby bump her head or eye on any sharp surfaces? Make a list of all potential hazards.

Cover All Ground

Move all breakables either up or out. A high shelf or a locked china cabinet is where these belong, or resign yourself that they just have to go into hiding for the next few years. Put childproof locks on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and cover everything. Cover the electrical outlets; cover sharp corners on tables with special edge cushions; cover the fireplace hearth with a carpet remnant. Be creative! It may not look beautiful, but the key here is safety for baby.

Off Limits!

Many potential problems can be avoided just by keeping baby out of certain rooms or limiting his choices. While you want your child to be active and have enough space in which to roam, use common sense. Stairs are an accident waiting to happen. Even a baby who knows how to come down the steps on her belly, feet first, must be supervised. Most children are not steady on the stairway until they are at least two years old.

Where babyproofing a room is not a logical choice—such as a home office, complete with computer equipment that must remain intact—cordon off with a gate. When used properly, gates are an inexpensive way to maintain safety and provide you with peace of mind. Place gates at stairways and at the entrance to your child’s bedroom. The gates should be the kind that are either bolted or pressure-locked to the wall. In case of fire, gates should be low enough for adults to climb over and have a walk-through door.

Watch Out for Potential Poisons

Children are naturally curious, and that curiosity doesn’t stop with medicine or household cleaning supplies. Keep these items up high, out of sight, or lock kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Look around your home for other items that could be ingested that might be dangerous. Seal pet food containers and move liquid soap so it is inaccessible. Keep your local Poison Control telephone number handy; they will instruct you if something is ingested.

Nothing is Fool Proof

Some of the worst accidents can happen in the most innocent places. At home, be sure that your gas or electric range is bolted to the ground. There have been cases where a child pulled on the oven door, and the range fell forward on top of them. Bolting the range is a quick fix. Most range companies offer a special attachment, and may even install it for you.

The supermarket is another place for potential trouble. Mobile babies should be securely belted in the grocery cart and closely watched. Some will try to stand up or may lean over. And, keep older children from riding along. Their weight may topple over the entire cart.

Exercise Caution

Even when you think you’ve got all bases covered, baby could surprise you. The best strategy is to keep your child in sight at all times. Never leave a baby, toddler or preschooler unattended, no matter where you are.