Staci, one of my really good college friends had a baby a few months after Jia was born, so we exchange thoughts and ideas since her son, Benji, is not far behind Jia (in age, though developmentally they are neck-and-neck)! Anyway, Staci wanted me to write a post about baby proofing, so I wanted to list the changes we’ve made to our house. As a warning, I didn’t go and get every baby-proofing device out there. Baby-proofing gadgets are pricey and add up very quickly, so I am going about baby-proofing in sort of a “buy as we need” fashion.
The Important Part
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) lists 12 must-have devices to childproof your home. The most important tip they stress is that in order for childproofing equipment to be effective, it must be installed correctly. Be sure to read instructions on all products that you purchase to ensure your child’s upmost safety. Also, they want you to remember that children are smart, crafty, and persistent. Even if you childproof your home, that doesn’t mean your child can’t figure out a way around it. Click here for the link.
Remember to ALWAYS lock away chemicals, medications (prescription and over-the-counter), alcohol, ammunition, knives, and other harmful products! This cannot be stressed enough!
The National Capital Poison Center states that in 2013, 44% of poison exposures were found in children under 6 years of age.
They identified the most common exposures for these children to be cosmetics, cleaners, pain medications, and foreign bodies. Others include vitamins, antihistamines (benadryl), batteries, plants/mushrooms, antimicrobials, pesticides, arts and crafts supplies, and “gastrointestinal preparations.” (I’m a nurse and I’m not sure what this refers to but it doesn’t sound appealing) Click here for other statistics from poison.org.
All of the products I am listing (besides our safety gate and trashcan) were purchased at Buy Buy Baby, and the prices I list are pre-20% off-coupon. Remember, save those Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons, because if they are NOT expired, you can use them! (expired ones, unfortunately can’t be used) There are other products out there, these aren’t the only “good ones,” and there are others that look less obvious but I am just writing about what we have, in case it helps guide your choices!
I knew I wanted a pressure-mounted walk-thru gate at the top of the stairs, so I wouldn’t be inconvenienced when carrying Jia up and down the stairs fifty times a day. I didn’t want to bolt a gate to the walls if I didn’t have to, so to me, this was important. I also didn’t want to waste the money on the cheap wooden/plastic gate knowing I would be quickly frustrated with its lacking features and lesser quality.
I looked at Buy Buy Baby for safety gates and in the store all I saw were $85+ walk-thru gates that had really nice cherry wood finishes with black/brown steel or a $30
crappy old-fashioned gate. There wasn’t an in-between (at least at our BBB). So I went to Amazon.com in search for a good mid-priced gate with good reviews.
I found this Carlson’s Pet Products Extra Wide Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door for $38.34. I didn’t realize that it was a pet gate with a smaller door to allow cats to get through, but it had really good reviews and the price was really reasonable. It was pressure-mounted and the reviewers were pleased with the quality of the steel frame and the firmness in fit. It comes with wall cups that you can screw to the wall to install your gate more permanently, but it’s not required.
Installation was really simple. I don’t like to put many baby things together and usually have Jeff do it all, but I did this alone and with Jia playing (which means it didn’t take me long; ~10 minutes). It was unbelievably easy.
The gate also comes with two extensions to widen to your needs. I actually didn’t think I needed an extension and I didn’t even notice it came with them. I ended up using the larger of the two (you can combine the two extensions for even more widening). Adding the extension didn’t make the gate feel flimsy, it was still a very solid install. I recommend the Extra-Wide gate since I did end up needing the extensions.
Nearly two seconds of installing it, Jia crawled her way up to the gate, stood up and started pulling at it with all her might so I’m glad it was a Man of Steel Superbaby gate.
*make sure to secure the pet door (aka, disable it) with a baby in the house, so baby doesn’t hurt themselves trying to get through. There’s a warning in the instructions to do this, and reviewers mention their 9 and 10-month olds figuring out the latch right away. I used an adjustable zip tie.
We did end up getting the cheap gate (pictured at left) since I found it on Amazon for only $10 (In my opinion, $30 is way overpriced). I figured we would keep the nice walk-thru one at the top of the stairs (higher traffic area) and the cheap one blocking off the area to where we’re less likely going to need access.
I really didn’t want to guard the coffee table. I actually thought, “well she needs to learn some time,” figuring that if she bumped her head a couple of times she would learn not to do it after a while. Well, after your baby hits her head a few times and you see that sad little scrunched up face that melts your heart, you start to think, “okay, maybe this is a little mean.” Especially considering their little arms are working on getting stronger, and well, sometimes babies just fall, slip, twirl, or forget that they’re standing, cruising, or kneeling.
I caved and got these squishy soft corner bumpers. They are much pricier than I think they need to be. At BBB, these KidKushion Soft Corner Cushions (4 pack) are $6.99. I think they should be $4. Not because they are cheap or not worth it, but because they’re a pretty simple product. They’re soft, fall-absorbing dense foam corners that come with adhesive strips that you apply (3 per corner). They’re straightforward and I really like them. I’m sure Jia likes them too.
My friend Taylor has these for her near-identical table in her apartment and even has the longer strips that you put on the edges of the table. Her 12 month old has effectively ripped them all off of the table, haha. I figured the corners were the greater evil and Jia will likely learn to deal with edges, and besides, the edge protectors of the same brand were extra pricey since they are larger. These things aren’t the most attractive or subtle in baby-proofing, but I got used to them pretty quickly and I like how soft the foam is.
By the way, I’m looking at BBB and there are WAY more choices online; combo packs with edges and corners and even cheaper options. Oh wellp. Mama wanted to get the job done then and there.
Strips & Outlets
With a techy husband we have a god-awful amount of infant-thirsty wires, plugs, chargers, and devices galore. Behind our TV (unfortunately not wall-mounted) is a jungle of cords. I’m talking lots. And we had a storage cubby that housed 5 extra unused power strips. So enticing for little Jia.
I went into BBB knowing this was my main problem. This and the kitchen. So I counted up the number of power strips I needed to deal with, and took a quick scan of how many exposed outlets I needed to cover. I didn’t count our bedroom and bathroom, the guest rooms, or the downstairs (below the main level) since those will either be gated/closed off or she’s just not interested in them.
We got two of these Mommy’s Helper Power Strip Safety Covers for $6.99. Each one comes with 4 outlet covers for you to plug into unused ports. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a power strip cover that would accommodate our double-wide Godzilla-like surge protector. So I ended up closing off the strip pictured entirely. I weeded through all of the 14 or so cords behind the TV and separated the double-surge and single strip into two-coverable strips. This was a giant pain in the butt because you know how some of the things you have, have huge adapter plugs? Like that are 3″x3″ or 4″x4″ blocks? Luckily we had a power strip with the eyeballs going horizontally instead of vertically but geez. What a pain. This giant one might’ve been a better option at $11.99 but I didn’t see it at the store.
For outlets, I also got KidCo Outlet Safety Caps (36-pack) for $9.99. There was a 12-pack for $4.99 but an easy calculation shows it’s a better value to get the bigger pack. Unless you don’t need all of them, but I figured if we moved, I could be lazy and not remove the outlet caps haha…
I also got this KidCo Outlet Plug Cover (pictured below) but haven’t installed it yet. It sells for $6.99 and requires you to unscrew the faceplate of your current outlet (grounded 3-prong outlets only) and replace it with this. It allows you to wrap your long cords around the inner spindles and close the “door” shut, requiring nimble adult hands to expose the outlets. I’m debating on returning this one, since a lot of our outlets are ungrounded 2-prongers. But, this is a solution to your kid pulling out your
hair sanity plugs.
This is where most of our baby-proofing obstacles lie, as probably most of yours will be. So many fun possibilities for curious little babies.
First off, I got these Safety 1st All Purpose Safety Straps (2 pack) for $5.99 (apparently $3.99 online) after seeing them on Friends. You know, the episode where Rachel thinks she can baby-proof the apartment herself and Joey gets mad because he can’t get into the fridge or use the toilet. Anyway, I got these to cover a floor-level corner lazy-Susan type spinning cabinet and for the fridge. Each grey pod has a REALLY strong adhesive and after cleaning off the surface you’ll apply these, they stick really well. You cut the clear strap to adjust to whatever item you’re closing off, and you press one of the pod’s side buttons to release the strap when needing access.
The day I took these photos (Tuesday), I’d planned on returning them. That’s why I have them photographed with the outlet plug cover, since I didn’t (at the time) have them installed in the house. Well, after taking ourblog cover photo above, Jia was curious about the corner cabinet for the first time ever. Needless to say, her tiny fingers got smushed, so I put the camera down, and installed those suckers in about 5 minutes. I spent most of the time trying to figure out the angle. For a fridge or oven, you really just need one but the pack fortunately comes with two should you find another place to secure. I like them. They’re really firmly stuck in place and easy to unlatch.
For cabinets I got these Safety 1st Grip ‘n Go Cabinet Locks (set of 2) for $3.99. I swear I paid more for them at the store, but online they’re cheap. Yes, they are obviously baby-proofing in that hideous kind of way, but my other options looked like more adhesive and more time-consuming to figure out. For some reason my exhausted brain couldn’t comprehend the idea of a magnet-lock to open a cabinet (most parents love the KidCo Adhesive Mount Magnet Lock device for $21.99), so I kind of panicked at the store and got the easiest-to-use and cheapest product. I still think this is really easy, and it’s a much cheaper solution that will travel with us in case we move. But yes, they’re ugly.
Lastly, I got KidCo Adhesive Cabinet and Drawer Locks for $7.99 each for all of our drawers. These are pricey when I think they don’t need to be so. And if you’re like me, you have lots of kitchen drawers. We have them especially at baby and high-chair height and Jia always seems to be drawn to the scissor drawer. A smart person would move the scissors to a different drawer, but that involves more effort. In hindsight perhaps not, but then there would be other stuff for her to explore in between bites during meals. I actually like these.
The problem I do have with these; however, is that in order to fit perfectly, your drawer catch and face have to be at the right height. It’s super hard to explain by writing it, but basically the left push-down part of the plastic has to attach to the inner part of your drawer face that you’re pulling. Our old 1980’s drawer’s was much lower, so in order to “catch” on the piece you stick inside the drawer’s lip, I had exposed adhesive and had to keep adhering then moving, adhering then moving, etc. etc. which wore down the sticky. So, in the end I had to scratch off the original adhesive and attach a super strong rectangle of mounting tape to replace it. My mounting tape (Home Depot) seems stronger anyway, now it works really well. **these also have an option to screw into your drawer** I’ve only installed one since it took a lot of effort to find the “sweet spot” for the hook to catch, but as Jia explores the other drawers (the ones with the screws, scotch tape, coupons, etc) I’ll install the rest. Besides, I know what I’m doing now.
I bought two of these KidCo Anti-Tip Furniture Straps for $4.99 (2 pack). I know that some furniture pieces come with straps, but who keeps those in a smart, safe place anyway? We didn’t. I remember when we bought our toilet shelf thingamajig with our wedding gift cards for Bed, Bath & Beyond, I made an attempt to save the strap, but somehow in our move (along with other stuff) it went missing. So, if you’re like me, you may want to get these. We have a beautifully-crafted IKEA media bookshelf in Jia’s room that houses all of her books, some diapering stuff, and her baptismal trinkets. The last thing you want is for a curious infant to pull a top-heavy bookshelf down to the ground (and likely ontop of them). So you’d think I’d have a photo of Jia’s furniture strap but I don’t. We haven’t installed it yet. I know. Anyway, she’s pulled up on the bookshelf once. Luckily she doesn’t weigh much so it hadn’t moved a hair, and I was standing at it organizing her books at the time. I think these are a must-buy especially if you have a narrow and tall piece of furniture in a high-baby-traffic area like the living room or baby’s room. Now if I could only get Jeff to install it…
Lastly: trash. Babies love trash. I wish I didn’t have to say that. But luckily, trashcans with locking lids are not only annoying for us, but also annoying for baby. My in-laws gave us this Simple Human 40L Slim locking step trashcan (with shocks!) for our kitchen. This trash can is really great and I’m sure there are other locking ones out there. My little trash-curious Oscar really finds trashcans fascinating, so I wish we had mini locking trashcans around the house, too, because she has tried SO many times to get into this one. Until then, I’ll have to just keep her trashcan hidden behind her two diaper pails (cloth and disposable). Luckily she can’t get into those.
Needless to say, we are much more tidy than we used to be.
Other items to consider down the road: toilet seat lid locks, door knob covers, cute door locks to prevent smushed fingers. The CPSC recommends an anti-scald device that regulates water temperature for bath tubs, but I didn’t see one at BBB’s website so I think we’ll just reinforce the “you don’t touch the knobs,” lesson.
Do you have a cool baby-proofing product that I didn’t get? Do you have a more practical solution to these problems to avoid having to buy anything? I’d love to hear about a product you’ve found to be a success (besides the magnetic cabinet locks, I have heard A LOT of good things!)!
Install & secure, vacuum often, and keep that adorable sweet baby happy healthy and safe!
Thanks for reading and, as always, please leave comments!
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov
The National Capital Poison Center: http://www.poison.org/stats/
Buy Buy Baby’s Website: http://www.buybuybaby.com