Baby Proofing: Challenges and Solutions

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in BABY, Best for Baby, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience, Parenting, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

    Baby Proofing 101, easy way to go about making your house safe.

Babyproofing…. such a weird concept to me.

Protect your child by locking up EVERYTHING imaginable and moving it out of his reach. It doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you’re in the pre-crawling or even crawling stages.

But once they walk, you realize “HOLY SHIT! There are hazards everywhere!“. I mean seriously!

To me, babyproofing is more like a managed protection spanning the range of  “watching the energizer bunny constantly” to “lock everything away”.

Our challenge was….

wait, who am I kidding?

Our CHALLENGES (plural) were the following:

  • a large staircase
  • a zillion cabinets
  • another zillion drawers
  • a large house.
  • a super active baby

That means hazards were EVERYWHERE.

So instead of going crazy, attempting to baby proof everything and then break down and cry because it is impossible, I took things a few steps at a time.

One thing I did have going for me was the fact that, as a stay at home mom with one child (or technically work from home, but since I only work during naptime/bedtime, I still consider myself a SAHM for the purposes of how much I get to watch/spend time with my daughter. Or a WAHM if I am complaining to someone about how I never have enough time to work), I can afford to watch her AT ALL TIMES. No distractions, no other responsibilities that I consider being more important than Lexi. That’s if you don’t count cooking, cleaning and other boring “I’d rather do something more fun” tasks.

So for the longest time, I refused to baby proof much citing the fact that I was literally always there with Lexi. That quickly ended with progressive mobility.

OUR APPROACH:

Babyproof only what is needed at the time.

As she became more interested in certain things, more mobile, we’d adjust what we are babyproofing. If we start letting her go into one room and out of our sight, relying solely on hearing, we would babyproof that particular room. If she suddenly became interested in drawers, we’d babyproof drawers. This approach really worked, because it didn’t dictate that we should do everything at once, which was impossible with our schedules, and because Lexi is almost always watched, so there was no danger of her suddenly getting into something we didn’t babyproof.

We started with the basics:

1. PLUGS and PLUG COVERS

Instead of putting in those funny looking plug protectors, Andrew just went through the whole house and installed the special outlet covers, which absolutely rock by the way and can be bought in packs of 25. That happened early on before Lexi was crawling. Luckily our house was getting painted at the time, so at least he didn’t have to take the outlet covers off as we have about 10 of those in each of the 12 room.

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2. GATES

Problem:

120 foot opening that needed to be gated.

Solution:

This awesome gate/play yard for the playroom is pretty convenient, looks great and goes to great widths. It had no problems stretching out all the way to 100 feet and more. When needed, it can also be used as a spacious playyard.

stategate

Problem:

Large irregular stair opening at the bottom.

Solution:

It took me weeks to find the right gates for our stairs and I had to order a few different ones before I found the ones that work. This auto-close gate I received from from One Step Ahead is my favorite. Aside from various configurations, it swings both ways and has an auto close feature which is really important, especially if you have more than 1 kid. It comes in black and white and can be adjusted to virtually any configuration. Our funky stair shape was no problem for this, though Andrew did have to play with the configuration to find the right one.

kidcogates

Problem:

For the top of the stairs, tall gate was needed to install it securely on the banister and wide enough for the opening. It also had to go low enough that the space between the gate and the floor wasn’t so large that a baby could crawl through. And as a top of the stairs gate it needed to have a hardware installation.

Solution:

This was THE HARDEST gate to figure out. One that would be wide enough wasn’t tall enough. One that was both tall and wide that we bought from Kidco, when installed, revealed a huge gap underneath. This gate from Summer Infant turned out to be THE ONLY gate that would work for top of the stairs. I love the way it looks and how it opens/closes, but my only complaint is that it does not have an auto close feature which would be a life-saver at the top of the stairs. But it was our only option, so we have to always double check to make sure it’s closed.

top gate

After these 3 gates were installed, I had plans to install two more gates, but before we were able to do it, Lexi became so mobile that a gate wouldn’t stop her if she wanted to get somewhere.

CABINETS

Problem:

A million cabinets all throughout the house , but mostly in the kitchen.

We have a huge kitchen and it is lined with cabinets. It was daunting to even think about how we’d get them all babyproofed with literally zero available time. So we took an easy way out and followed our friend and neighbor’s advice to remove the door knobs off the cabinets. She told us she had had no problems with her 2.5  year old daughter by simply removing the knobs. So we did that shortly after Lexi started walking. It worked for a few weeks, but quickly Alexis figured out how to open the doors without the knobs just by watching us pull from the top or underneath the cabinet. She was 12 months at the time and suddenly we were back to having to babyproof them all.

Solution:

I had seen some babyproofing options at friends’ houses and the hinges that keep the door from opening fully just didn’t appeal to us. I looked into Safety First magnetic keys and was sold on the idea but was afraid that execution would fail us. In reality, this is my favorite baby proofing product and I would strongly recommend investing in magnetic keys especially if you’re planning on having more kids. They are expensive at first glance, but oh so worth it.

key

They install pretty easily on the inside of the cabinets and are absolutely invisible on the outside. There is no way for a smart baby to figure it out, because it works like a locked door. The reason I say that is because Alexis figured out how to open one of those loop locks on a cabinet at her music class. If your baby grows out of the babyproofing stage, you can easily permanently unlock them without uninstalling and it would actually be a good selling point for the house that all the cabinets are babyproofed. Unlocking the  cabinets is as easy  as bringing the magnetic key to the front of the cabinet behind which the lock is installed.

It took us some time to install all the locks since the are screwed into the wood, but now that it is done, it’s really the most convenient and attractive option I have found. You can buy them online here as a complete set, or separately.

DRAWERS

I haven’t found anything earth shuddering for drawers. We don’t have many drawers we go into daily that HAVE to be babyproofed so I got these simple cheap drawer latches. Can’t say much about them aside from they work exactly the way they are supposed to.

IMG_9358

WASHER AND DRYER

We have not had any issues with washer and dryer being opened by Lexi, because the laundry room is in the furthest corner of the house in a web of corridors and if she ends up being there, she is always watched. She never wanders out of our sight or hearing  without us following her at some point. But I do have two locks by Safety First ready to be installed at any sign of problem that. I expect that as she gets  older and explores the house more without our supervision, these will be life saver.

BLIND CORD WRAPS

I could not believe how few options there are for good blind winders. The ones that are available have such miserable reviews that I didn’t even bother purchasing them. You’d think somebody would make a better quality blind winder, but to date I have not found that somebody. So we decided to go with simple blind cord wraps by Dreambaby. It’s a low tech manual version and it is a pain in the butt to have to unwind them, but it’s a solution.

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FURNITURE STRAPS

Luckily the furniture that we do have is SOOOO heavy that I couldn’t move it if I tried, let alone a baby. So we only needed furniture straps for her dresser which was a cheap wood dresser we refinished ourselves. After reading about this horrific story of a little girl dying after her child sized dresser fell on her in the middle of the night, I was set on strapping any furniture that has a possibility of moving to the wall. We used these straps.

Brands to look into:

SAFETY FIRST has GREAT childproofing products, from basic cheap ones to more expensive innovative items.

SUMMER INFANT has great gates.

KIDCO carries some of the much needed items.

ONE STEP AHEAD is a place where you can find a little bit of everything from all the different brands, including their own proprietary products.

RHOOST is a relatively  new brand of non-toxic baby proofing options, however they are more expensive and based on the reviews I have read aren’t always user friendly. Since I didn’t expect Alexis to chew on or touch the locks, I skipped it this time around.

 

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Comments (34)

  • Holly

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    We love those magnet keys, too! That said, our almost-3-year-old figured them out! We had our medicines and first aid items stored in a low cabinet and “protected” by a magnet key. Well, one day she wanted to help herself to some “my little pony” bandaids. So, she found the magnet key and helped herself! Keep the magnet keys up and away and put dangerous stuff high just in case! AND, she figured out how to pull off doornob covers, too. Whew…

    Reply

    • Elaine

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      The key will stick onto anything magnetic. So we keep it magnetized to the top of the refridgerator. We always know it’s there, and kids can never reach it.

      Reply

  • Puddin

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    Babyproofing can be a daunting task. I don’t even want to think about it with my little one quite yet! Glad you’re finding a way to get it done without getting overwhelmed!
    ~Puddin

    Reply

  • jena

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    Thanks for this post – I haven’t even thought of babyproofing.. guess it’s time to start thinking about that.

    Reply

  • Corinne

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    Thank you for posting about the furniture straps!! Our daughter is now in a toddler bed and I’m terrified of her roaming around and climbing on the furniture during the night (I also read that tragic story..), so we’ve been trying to find something to anchor it to the wall. These are perfect!

    Reply

  • Patricia

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    We have those magnetic cabinet locks too and we love them! Just have to keep the keys out of reach because my 11 month old has watched me do them so much he tried to open them with the key if I let him play with it!

    Reply

  • Tina

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    I LOVE the magnet keys! We have them in our bathrooms and kitchen! So worth the extra money. The cheap ones worried me that she would still pinch her fingers and I have read about so many toddlers figuring out how to open them anyways.

    Reply

  • Mamato2

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    2. GATES
    Problem:

    120 foot opening that needed to be gated.

    Do you really mean feet? Or inches??

    Reply

  • Mona

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    Great list. Our house feels so bare (most heavy and/or breakable stuff is gone from our tables and bookshelves). Minimalism at its best.
    Have you thought about door knob protectors?
    I’m curious as to the products you specifically linked. Are those sponsored products, or do you get a percentage from it, say from Amazon?

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      We haven’t had an issue with doorknobs so far since the potential hazards like front, back and garage doors are usually locked.
      As far as my affiliation with companies or Amazon, please refer to the terms of use and disclosure at the bottom of the page.

      Reply

  • Janelle

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    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! We were trying to figure out how to gate off our kitchen, which doesn’t have a doorway but has one wall at the edge of the fridge recess and a brick pillar about half a metre back, so making a wide diagonal opening. Had no idea how we were going to do it until i saw your gate at the bottom of your stairs. Perfect!

    Now just to find if there’s anything like that in Australia :)

    Reply

  • Tina

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    For people saying keep the magnet key out of reach of your baby, we have found the best place for it is on the side of our medicine cabinet and the side of the fridge. It’s a magnet, so it works great!

    Reply

  • kat

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    aw man baby proofing. We only baby proofed the things that were like super duper dangerous, i.e. drawers with knifes and scissors, but not all drawers, cabinets with chemicals but not all cabinets, latch on basement door but nothing else.

    Reply

  • Tawny

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    We paid someone to come in an baby proof. So worth it! It saved us so much time and energy.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I’ve heard of those services but it never entered my mind to do it. Now that I look back- that would have been perfect.
      So how does it happen? How much does it cost? etc

      Reply

  • Chris

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    This post personally caused me a huge headache in how much you have (and/or intend to) babyproof. Some good info, especially in regards to gates because that can be so difficult depending on the situation, but I think there’s A LOT of overkill. Then again, I don’t know the layout of your home. My entire baby proofing experience consisted of outlet covers, gating in the room/area for kiddo, removing anything sentimental/breakable from reach (more because I didn’t want to have to attempt replacing something meaningful than anything else), and closing doors. Limit access to the kitchen and there’s no need for babyproofing the cabinets — but for me that works because it’s literally a one/two-person-sized kitchen.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Really? Cuz literally this is the minimum we could have done to keep it safe.
      But like you said size of the house matters. We have 4000 sq feet of hallways and nooks and danger.
      Limit access to the kitchen? I had to lol at that. You should see the kitchen. There’s no way to limit the access. We live there half the day.

      And to be honest, while I feel we barely did enough to baby proof, there’s no such thing as an overkill when t comes to safety. 1-3 years is. Dangerous age.

      Reply

      • Holly

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        Overkill is impossible! With our first, we even had toilet locks! She was prone to tossing shoes and toys in there and trying to dive in! A contractor broke one trying to lift the lid lol!

        Reply

      • Chris

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        Like I said, it all depends on your home/layout, and I don’t know it (hence that caveat when I commented). I have a galley-esque kitchen – no eat-in area, easily gated. My home is also under 2,000 sq ft, my laundry is in the garage, I have no stairs, and blind cords were easily hooked in/wrapped around the top-most blinds. Obviously, your and my mileage varies, but I just could not imagine living in a home where I needed to do everything you have.

        Reply

        • Tina

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          If I limited access to the kitchen….which I do when I am cleaning the floor, she has a fit and just wants to be in there with me, hence why we did the locks on the cabinets. I do not think anything listed above is overkill at all. I see gates, which is mandatory with stairs, outlet covers, (we did not do this we just tell her no) but I know a lot of people do, and locks to cabinets you don’t want them in. I am not a parent that is going to follow my kid all over the house to make sure she is not getting into any cabnets she should not so that was a great thing for us to do. And as far as the blinds, I don’t see that as overkill either just taking the extra step of making your house safe as possible. I don’t see how keeping your child as safe as can be is overkill!

          Reply

  • Tarynkay

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    On the blind cords, you know that you don’t really have to wrap the cord around and around like that, right? Cause that takes forever. We put ours at the top of the window frame and just loop the blind cord around loosely a couple of times. As long as it is out of reach of the baby, it is safe. Not beautiful, but safe.

    As to toilet locks, we just keep the bathroom door closed. If he is in there, we are with him.

    We have a lock on the trash cabinet, but the others we just keep dangerous stuff out of. And when we are in the kitchen, we let him climb up on a kitchen stool so he can “help” us cook. It keeps him out of trouble!

    Reply

  • Dennis

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    Great post Elena!

    While “baby-proofing only what you need to” is a great approach at first, when the kid starts crawling you need to shift to the “baby-proof all the things” tactic :) The kid is getting faster every day and will reach areas you least expect.

    Reply

  • Alyssa

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    Don’t forget strapping heavy furniture to the wall. TV’s and dressers should be secured. I know of a woman who’s 3 year old crawled up on a dresser and it fell over on her, her daughter didn’t make it. For less than $10 they could have secured that dresser to prevent tipping. It’s a regret she deals with on a daily basis.

    Reply

      • Jennifer

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        You did write about strapping furniture to the walls. I just wanted to add something that you probably already know but didn’t directly address (in case there’s someone out there who doesn’t know) – it’s important to strap heavy dressers and shelves to the wall even if they are so heavy that it is difficult to move them because the baby can pull out the drawers to create a “ladder” and this makes it more likely to become heavy enough on the front to tip. Similarly, with a bookshelf, a toddler hanging off the end of it can cause the balance to shift enough to tip it. Also, beware of those gigantic television sets. They should be secured too if not already wall mounted.

        Reply

  • Nicole

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    We have a professional childproofing company and one of my favorite products is the outlet cover you have a picture of, because it locks itself back up and no more worries about forgetting to put those plastic outlet covers back in (not to mention they are a choking hazard) http://www.childsafellc.com

    Reply

  • shelley

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    I just stumbled across your baby proofing post and wanted to put one more key baby proofing tip on your radar: storing all medicines and vitamins safely! More than 60,000 young kids a year end up in ERs after getting in to medicines that were left within reach. That’s 1 child every 8 minutes! This includes medicines placed on kitchen counters and bedside tables, those carried in purses and pockets and those that fell on floors or slipped into seat cushions.And almost 8 out of 10 times, that medicine belongs to a parent or grandparent. This is preventable with safe medicine storage: putting medicines up and away and out of sight, after each and every use (even those we have to take again in a few hours time).

    http://www.UpandAway.org has some safe medicine storage tips and tip sheets. And Safe Kids Worldwide has some terrific infographics:

    http://www.safekids.org/meds-info2013

    Reply

  • Nicole

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    Shelley, Another very good point! Locking up medicines & vitamins is a must! This is definitely part of our recommendations for all parents during our home walk through assessments.

    Reply

  • Kayla Robey

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    Hi,

    Thank for sharing this nice post. I have a question:- What is the diameter of the hexagonal play pen when using two units? In other words, what is the widest space it covers when set up as a play pen? Thank you…

    Regards,
    Kayla Robey

    Reply

  • Jennifer

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    Keep your baby safe and prevent accidents at home with our childproofing checklist. Yours also rocks!

    Reply

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