I used to think the baby stage was hard. Then my baby became a toddler and I realized something—the baby stage was the easy part. Because once your cute little bundle of joy starts crawling or scooting across the floor, pulling up onto furniture, and crawling up the stairs, things get a lot, lot harder.
No one can keep eyes on their baby at all times (hey, even moms have to pee sometimes). That’s where baby proofing your house comes in. Here are our best tips and tricks for making your home baby-safe, some of our favorite baby proofing products, and even tips for baby proofing during the holidays.
Baby Proofing Checklist
- Baby proof outlets
- Check your doors
- Secure cords
- Anchor heavy furniture or hanging art/frames
- Move cleaning products up high
- Babyproof cabinets
- Anchor the tree
- Gate the fireplace
When it comes to babyproofing, you’ll need to think at a baby’s level. First up? Outlets.
Babyproof outlets. Cover the electrical outlets with these outlet covers like these from Wappa Baby. Secure all loose cords to the wall with these inexpensive cord tunnels. I use these in both kids’ rooms to corral monitor, lamp, and sound machine cords. Another bonus? It looks better, too. You could also purchase a baby proofing kit to get started.
Check the doors. I never understood the news stories of toddlers who were found wandering the street in their diaper or PJs, having somehow gotten outside while their parents lost sight of them. Then I had kids. Toddlers are fast, they are sneaky, and they don’t care if you end up on the evening news as a deadbeat parent. If there is a way to escape and take off down the sidewalk, they will find it. That’s why it’s smart to baby proof doors, especially exterior doors. And I don’t just mean with deadbolts. Most toddlers master those by age two. Try installing these swing bar locks high up enough on your door that your toddler can’t reach it. Keep them locked during the day. And never worry about your toddler escaping into the wild again.
It’s also smart to secure interior doors if you have a toddler. We use these door knob covers from Safety First to keep my son out of the baby’s room, the master bedroom, and office, and to keep him in his own room during quiet time. (Don’t judge me.) They are easy to install, easy enough for adults to navigate, and haven’t failed me yet. If you have level doors, try this version.
And windows. Just think of kids like tiny Houdinis who will try to escape at any chance they get. If you live in an older home or have any doubts about the security of your windows, you might want to consider a window guard for an extra safety precaution.
Cover your corners. New walkers are also famously unsteady. While you can’t keep your babe from falling, you can make sure their falls aren’t into a sharp corner. (Also, who wants to deal with stitches this time of year? Or in 2020 in general?) I’m obsessed with these cushy corner covers, ideal for baby proofing coffee tables. They adhere well, are super soft, and even come in both white and brown. They also come with longer pieces that you can attach to long, low shelves, which we did in our playroom.
Gate and abate. When you think baby proofing, you likely think of baby gates. If you live in a one-story home, you may only need a gate to block off areas you don’t want your baby to access, like the laundry room. But if you live in a multi-story home, baby proofing stairs should definitely be on your list. Invest in a secure, wall-mounted baby gate like this one from Munchkin at both the top and the bottom of every staircase.
Next, consider the big stuff that could potentially fall and cause harm to your baby. Tall furniture or bookcases, dressers in the nursery, or anything heavy hanging on the wall needs to be secured.
In our house, I anchored all dressers, our entertainment center, and any piece of art that was large enough to cause damage to the wall with either screws anchored into the drywall or directly into the wall studs. (Now’s the time to invest in a stud finder). I’ve also been known to double-secure anything handing on the walls with 3M hanging strips, as well as anchored screws. You can also purchase specific anti-tipping hardware for TVs and heavy furniture.
Too Many Cooks (or Babies) in the Kitchen
The kitchen is likely where you spend a lot of your time, so you’ll want to do a thorough sweep of it to ensure it’s baby-ready.
Check your cleaning supplies. First, I moved all the cleaning supplies to the top shelf in my pantry. I also switched to mostly green cleaning products, in the off chance they did get their hands on something.
Secure the cabinets. Next, I baby proofed cabinets with these simple, inexpensive cabinet locks. I like that they are easy to put on and take off and don’t require screwing into the cabinets themselves. They are also the same color as our cabinets, so they aren’t super obvious. If you want something a little less obvious, try the magnetic version. It’s also smart to put these on your bathroom cabinets, which probably contain cleaners, makeup, and various other items you don’t want baby to play with.
Move anything breakable or heavy. If you have anything heavy, glass, ceramic or otherwise potentially dangerous on any floor or waist-level cabinet or drawer, you’re going to want to move them. Aside from the fact that they could get broken, curious little hands could pull out a heavy bowl and drop it on their toe or foot. Ouch! The same rule applies to napkins: although not heavy, if they are in arms’ reach, they will be strewn about the floor.
Baby Proofing for the Holidays
Ah, the holidays. Full of magic—and also potential dangers. Before you bring on the beauty of the season, be sure to do a quick sweep of your living quarters from the eyes of a toddler determined to cause chaos. You’ll likely want to hit the following areas:
Focus on the fireplace. During the cozy season, who doesn’t love curling up with a good book, a glass of wine, and a fire crackling? But while that fireplace is a great perk for adults, it could be potentially hazardous for kids. To baby proof your fireplace, first tuck away any sharp or heavy fireplace tools. Sure, that cast-iron Pottery Barn set might look fantastic sitting next to your stone fireplace, but a two-year-old can turn the poker into a pretend sword in 2.5 seconds.
Next, consider investing in a childproof fireplace screen, like the Hearth Gate from Best Choice Products. Not only does it anchor safely to the wall, it’s also not super conspicuous.
Cue the cocoa. This time of year is ideal for a steaming hot beverage — think coffee, tea, even hot chocolate. But those hot liquids could potentially be dangerous for your little one, especially as they start to pull up on tables and toddle around. By no means am I suggesting you give that up. Personally, I drink at least three cups of coffee a day. But switching to a lidded coffee mug is a much safer option than your standard mug.
Trim the tree. Start by putting the breakable ornaments up top, or forgo them altogether. You’ll also want to do the same with smaller ones that could pose a choking hazard. If you have a particularly rambunctious toddler, you may consider anchoring your tree. It’s pretty simple—use fishing line tied to the midpoint of the trunk and secure it to the wall with a furniture anchor.
Depending on the size and weight of your tree, you may consider doing this more than once. And be sure that string is out of baby’s reach, as well. Babies love strings, but they pose a serious strangulation hazard. Some people might also consider a large gate around the circumference of the tree. If it works for you, great. But I’ve found that the more off-limits I make something, the more my kids want to explore it. Instead, I try to make everyday household items safe for them to explore.
Put out a “test present.” Speaking of the tree, let’s talk about what’s under the tree. While they don’t necessarily pose a safety hazard to your little one, no one wants to return from an ill-timed bathroom trip to find half their holiday gifts unwrapped. In our house, are enacting a two-step approach to this. First, we’ll put out a test present. If both the baby and my toddler leave it alone, I’ll consider putting our gifts to family and friends (not those from Santa, of course) under the tree. If they can’t leave it alone, we’ll simply keep all gifts in Santa’s Workshop until the big day.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you start baby proofing your house?
Experts suggest first baby proofing a few months before your due date, starting with securing cords, installing both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and making sure rugs are secure. Once the baby starts moving, you’ll want to cover outlets, install corner guards and cabinet locks, and even purchase a garbage can lock. Yes, really. And that video monitor from the newborn days will still come in handy for keeping an eye on your little one too.
Do I really need baby gates?
If you live in a one-story house, probably not. But if you have stairs in your home, it’s recommended to install gates both at the bottom and top of your staircase.
When can you stop baby proofing?
Between two and three is when most children can follow simple rules and start to have a better idea of what’s safe and what’s not. Around that age, they also have better physical development and are able to walk, run, and jump on their own—though accidents will still happen!
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