7 Baby Proofing Tricks Every Mom Needs to Know
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As a mom to two young children, I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve had a few too many moments of sheer panic due to inefficient baby proofing.
Most recently, I forgot to close the baby gate to a short hallway that leads to the basement stairs. I only realized this when I found Henry, my 16 month old, smiling at me from behind the gate. He had closed it and was playing with the latch. Sure, not a moment that causes panic in and of itself, but when I went to go get him, he giggled and stumbled over towards the steps. As he got to the top of the steps, he started teetering. It was one of those times where everything is in slow motion. I leaned over the gate and tried to grab the back of his shirt, but he was just out of reach. I fumbled to open the gate and scooped him up just in time.
I think that may have been one of the scariest moments in my life. What if he had fallen down the stairs? It could have been absolutely devastating. Some people might ask what I was doing and why wasn’t I watching him, but I have two kids under 3 years old and it’s practically impossible to watch both of them at the same time. For example, as I’m changing Henry’s diaper, my 2 year old might be getting into the Playdough or as I’m heating up lunch, they might be climbing on the outside banisters of the stairs. I do everything I can to watch them and ensure that they are safe, but sometimes it’s not enough.
That is why I’m writing this post, to share 7 ways I’ve baby proofed our house to make it as safe as I can. Some of the ways I baby proofed are obvious, tried and true methods – but there are some clever tricks I had to come up with to outsmart my kids! I want to let you know that for the most part, there is nothing special about the specific brands I’ve chosen to use. I mainly chose them because I like shopping on Amazon and these products had good reviews. Additionally, another goal was to not cause permanent damage to anything in my house, i.e. screw something into my cupboards, stairway banister, etc.
1. Baby Proofing Drawers
All of my kitchen drawers are at the end of a counter top, meaning I could childproof them by using a strap and latch system. I am using two different brands, both the Munchkin Xtraguard Dual Action (gray and white) and Ella’s Child Locks (brown). There’s no rhyme or reason why I have two different brands, to be honest my husband bought some and then I found some on sale. Let me tell you a little about each of these.
- Can be unlatched from either side of the strap (can see in picture)
- Easy to install (uses 3M strips)
- No damage to cabinets
- Not discreet
- Easy to use
- Easy to install (uses 3M strips)
- No damage to cabinets
- Comes in a variety of colors (white, brown, and black) but still obvious
- One side of latch is irreversible. After you close it, it cannot be changed.
I know that there are options to install safety catches inside the drawer or cabinet, but to be honest, we tried some and they didn’t work on our cabinets. The nice part about these safety catches though is that they are hidden inside the drawer.
Additional uses for latch and strap system: Toilet, trashcan, side by side cabinets
2. Baby Proofing Side-By-Side Cabinets
Side-by-side cabinet doors are easily baby proofed using sliding locks. The ones I used are Dreambaby Sliding Locks. To unlock you simply pinch the clasp and slide it.
3. Baby Proofing Difficult Cupboards and Drawers
We actually have two identical “buffets” as shown here, one with a hutch and one without. These took some research and creative thinking to determine a way to baby proof, but I think the method I came up with is smart, cheap, and easy! The reason these pieces were so hard to baby proof is because first of all they are painted with chalk paint, so I was afraid that if I used a 3M strip to attach something, it would rip off the paint upon removal. Second of all, there’s no obvious method to baby proof, for example the two cabinet doors are pretty far apart. In regards to the drawers, there’s no obvious way to baby proof them, especially considering I didn’t want to screw into the piece.
So what I did was order some nylon straps from Strapworks.com, that snap together with a buckle (kind of like a huge dog collar). The straps were cheap – less than $2 each – and came in a variety of colors and lengths. I ordered a 4 foot strap for the cabinets and a 2 foot strap for the drawers. I started by doing this to the drawers:
And then to baby proof the cabinet doors, I added a strap across, which goes on top of the one holding the drawers. The strap connecting the cabinet doors actually adds another level of security to the drawers!
I modified this method to baby proof my entertainment center that only had round knobs in the center of the cabinet doors. I once again purchased straps from Strapworks.com (brown to make them more inconspicuous) and bought metal rings from Etsy. I made sure the rings were larger than the knobs.
And just so you have a clear understanding of how this works, if you unfasten the buckle, you have to unloop the strap (or remove the ring) to open the cabinet door (a bit of an inconvenience, but worth the peace of mind). Alternatively you could cut the strap in half and sew it to the ring. But I’m a busy mom, trying to do it all, so this will have to work for the time being!
Additional Uses: Side by Side Cabinets
4. Baby Proofing the Front and Back Door(s)
As soon as Jack was tall enough to unlock the front and back doors, we had to constantly be watching to make sure he hadn’t gone outside. We do have an alarm system installed which helps because it beeps when a door leading outside is opened, but it doesn’t make you stop worrying. We decided to make sure that he couldn’t go outside without our knowledge and installed chain locks near the top of the front and back doors. As you can see, we installed them near the top of the doors because Jack has been known to push chairs over to stuff when he needs a boost to reach what he wants. These have helped tremendously.
5. Baby Proofing Dressers and Bookshelves
Baby proofing is essential when it comes to dressers, bookshelves, cubbies, and anything else that can tip over. I asked my father-in-law during one of his visits to anchor all our dressers to the wall. To be honest, I knew nothing about what “anchoring” a dresser meant and apparently he didn’t have much experience with it either. He came up with this INGENIUS hack to anchor things to the wall – he used a CHAIN LOCK.
The beauty of the chain lock is that it is relatively easy to unhook, which means that it is super convenient when you want to move the furniture to clean (alright let’s be honest, I’m lucky if my floors get vacuumed once a month, I’m not moving furniture out on a regular basis to clean).
Just be sure you install the chain in a stud and an equally robust location on your furniture.
6. Baby Proofing Stairs
Baby proofing stairs can be hard, because there’s not a one size fits all answer (which can make it easy to put off!) Since we have a cat, we got Carlson baby gates with a built-in cat door. (As a side note, the cat door is big enough for a small child to fit through, but there is a latch for it if it becomes a problem!) Because our stairway has a banister on one side, we had to get clever when it came to installation. Especially for resale, we didn’t want to drill holes into the banister.
To install the baby gate without damaging the banister, we bought a baseboard that was close in color to the banister and had it cut to the right height. We then zip tied the baseboard to the banister and used it as a flat surface for our baby gate! (Look at the picture of the whole baby gate – you probably didn’t notice the baseboard initially!)
7. Baby Proofing Electrical Outlets
Last but not least, it is incredibly important to make sure all electrical outlets are covered. We have the Safety 1st covers. I would suggest you buy them in white, because the clear ones don’t make it as obvious if an outlet isn’t covered.
The last thing to mention is that you can baby proof everything, but unless you get in the habit about making sure outlet covers always get put back in or cupboards get resecured after being opened, it doesn’t matter. I will be the first to admit that I am lazy and forgetful. I open the cupboard below the kitchen sink to get more dish soap and then think I’ll secure it later. Then I forget and find my kids in the nick of time.
But ultimately baby proofing can help you out by not allowing your child(ren) to have access to things they don’t need or shouldn’t have access to. Does it mean you don’t have to watch them as closely? No, but especially if you have more than one child it makes it a little harder for them to get into dangerous situations.
What smart and awesome baby proofing tips do you have? Please share in the comments!!! And if you enjoyed this post, be sure to share it with your friends or pin it for later by clicking here!