What non-crazy steps did you take to baby proof your home?

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Maaaaybe this wouldn’t work. By: Craig WyzikCC BY 2.0
I have a four-month-old little ball of love who is about to become a ROLLING ball of love. My partner and I are looking into baby-proofing — or rather, baby safe-ing as I like to say — our two bedroom apartment.

Given how over-the-top advertising for baby-proofing items is, I’d love to get a few tips from Offbeat Families readers on baby-proofing in a sensible fashion. I’ve read the baby-proofing archives but didn’t take much from it other than look into baby gates and outlet covers (which we have).

Does anyone have any advice about reasonable baby-proofing, or recommendations for not totally crazy products? — Cortney

Comments on What non-crazy steps did you take to baby proof your home?

  1. The main things we did were outlet covers, furniture anchors and baby gates to block the stairs and the closet with the cat’s litter box. In addition, we put cabinet latches on two of our kitchen cabinets that had breakables/chemicals, but we let our 14-month-old play in the rest of the cabinets. Oh, and we also put those knob covers on our stove recently because we have a gas stove and my son likes to mess with the knobs and I’m afraid of our house exploding. Other than that, we haven’t done much. To be honest, we haven’t needed to because we just keep an eye on him and redirect when necessary. The only place he’s ever alone in the house without us for more than a minute or two is his room (he sleeps on a floor mattress), so we made sure everything in there was safe for him to play with, except his cloth diaper pail which he leaves alone for whatever reason. He’s learned without much effort to stay out of the pet’s water bowls and away from the few breakable things we have in our living room. I really don’t think it’s necessary to go overboard with babyproofing. My philosophy has always been that if he wants to get into something unsafe I’ll redirect two or three times and if he keeps going back to it, I’ll move the thing out of reach or go into another room.

    • I agree with this so much. Both of my brothers have children and the parenting style is so different when it comes to “baby proofing”. Oldest brother has a bare house with absolutely nothing anywhere near the floor, baby-gates everywhere, and make us “baby-proof” our houses before they’ll visit. Other brother is totally relaxed, and just puts boundaries around their (younger than the other kids) daughter. No means no, she learns, and no one has to worry about putting everything away before they come around!

      • This sounds harsh, but I refuse to toddler-proof my house to meet other parents expectations. I have a 7 week old, and we will adjust the child-proofing as required for his developmental needs.
        And I dont expect my friends to baby-proof their houses for us to visit either. Its our job to keep LJ under control and safe when we are visiting.

        • Yeah, I don’t expect people to baby proof before we go over to their houses. Of course, this does mean that my partner and I have to tag team with following my always-on-the-go young toddler around to make sure he doesn’t stick his fingers in outlets or break other people’s stuff since trying to tell a 14-month-old that something isn’t for him to play with from across the room doesn’t really work, but I would never expect someone to really go out of their way to accommodate us for a few hours.

  2. We have a two bedroom condo, and all we have done is exactly what you say. Outlet covers and a baby gate. Actually I did use one of those plastic thingies that you attach to your cupboard to keep them from opening all the way. That’s about it… Our son is 2 and 1/2 now, and we have had no issues so far. It might depend on the child, though. Some people are really worried about their funiture being anchored to the wall if their kid is a climber. Oh! we have taught him not to touch the Xbox, but for a while the coffee table was in front of the tv and electronics while he was learning.

  3. Just note that if you are from the UK then it is not recommended that socket covers are used as they can in some circumstances increase the risk of fires and electrocution.

      • I can see how the risk for shock to myself would increase because sometimes I pry the plug out of the socket with the actual vaccum plug… I could possibly slip or damage something making it unsafe.

    • The old-style, outlet covers (the little plugs you put in your outlet) are also being discouraged in the US. Firstly, there is a tendency to forget to replace them when you unplug something and secondly, the little plug is a choking hazard, creating a double issue. They now make replacement face plates that snap closed over the outlet that you can get. They are more convenient, more reliable, and no choking hazard, but I’m sure they cost more.

  4. The only other thing I did then what was mentioned above was put on some chain locks to all of the doors that led outside. I just didn’t like the idea of her getting out (or another kid getting her out) once she was able to reach the handle (around 2 years old). She’s never tried to leave the house without me, but it made me feel a lot safer!!!

      • When my half-sisters were little (like, 2 and 3), my mom and her husband woke up one Saturday morning to a knock at their door…one of the folks in their building found them in the lobby sharing a box of cookies. Thank goodness they lived in an apartment building and didn’t get beyond the lobby…

        • My seven month old is getting to the stage where she gets into everything!! When I told my mom she had started crawling she said “uh oh, time to put bells on all of your doors!”. I guess when my sister and I were babies/toddlers she would put bells on all of the doors that led outside in case we decided to let ourselves out—clever!

  5. Our little brut managed to hang on the oven door around 8 months, and fell backwards because the door opened. I’d recommend either a baby gate for the kitchen, or getting one of those latches to keep it from opening. He’s 20-months now, and now knows how to open the dishwasher, so we got a latch for that, too. We mainly just keep doors to the rooms we don’t want him in closed (and pray every day he doesn’t learn to open the doors). Get in the habit of keeping the toilet lid closed, if you don’t already. Other than that, just keep an eye on things that your baby could put in their mouth. I don’t think we did much major baby proofing, like putting latches on cabinet doors, until he was crawling and pulling to a stand

    We bolted our furniture to the wall, because they do climb (or maybe it’s just mine). I swore we’d never got one, but we also bought one of those baby gate sets that can connect together into an octagon. If we needed to block a few places, we took pieces off and used that as baby gates for awhile. It was also nice to use that to put him in so he could safely roll around and play while I got ready for work in the morning, or did a few things around the house. It’s great for outside, too. When my husband and I were getting ready for a garage sale, we put down an outdoor blanket, and set up the octagon for him to play in while we cleaned out the garage.

    • The octagon gate thing is really magical, especially if you’re willing to be creative. We use ours to barricade the fronts of our many bookshelves, and have the very easy to use gate positioned in front of a doorway. We had to get very, very creative with how we secured it, since those suckers are not meant to be used in any position but the octagon, but it was totally worth it. For a small, awkwardly-shaped space, it’s been a lifesaver.

      We’ve also had good luck just being very strategic with furniture placement and storage. As soon as our son started climbing onto couches, we just moved them so he can no longer fall off the back or sides. As soon as he figured out how to pull EVERYTHING off our storage shelves, we either covered them with fabric or just reallocated the within-reach shelves for his use. All he can get to now are toys, or boring flat surfaces he doesn’t want anyhow!

    • I was also very anti octagon but got one for our 9month oleander love it. She can have the run of an area safely instead of being in a jumper or pack and play if i need to do something. She is perfectly happy in there.

  6. We really didn’t go crazy- our big thing was moving our computers to a room that we could close the door to and hiding cables; the little bugger freaking LOVED pulling on cables. After he almost pulled my husband’s gigantic computer onto him, we got that out of the way. We also replaced table lamps with wall-mount swing-arm lamps, so he couldn’t pull them off the table and we could hide the cables. (Also I really wanted them 🙂 ) Cable tracks for those and our tv cable were great.

  7. The main issues we had were antique railing with gaps just big enough for a child’s body to squeeze through, stairs at both apartment entrances and a carpeted living room.
    Our landlord would be seriously pissed if we damaged railing or woodwork in our heritage apartment to babyproof, so to deal with the railing gaps I went to the dollar store and bought big thick school project board, it’s like 2 pieces of bristol board with a piece of foam sandwiched between, and I used tape and twine to line the entire length of rail with that.
    Our front stairs had a plastic babygate that holds in place using pressure, and our back stairs, which are inside an attached shed have a wooden gate my dad made me that stays closed using a baby-proof metal hook that even adult visitors have trouble with.
    The carpet baby proofing is different, because obviously the carpet doesn’t endanger a baby beyond being an allergen trap. However, my landlord would rather not pull the carpet up, and a few months before her 2nd birthday my daughter decided that pants and diapers were not for her. She hadn’t mastered getting to her potty in time, and when she did she wanted to empty it herself, so the problem became, how do we protect the carpet from her? My solution was to spread a large blue tarpaulin over the living room floor. It was not attractive, but the whole thing could be swept clean, or wiped in the event of accidents.

  8. We didn’t do much. I think it depends on the kid. We live in an apartment, so have no stairs to worry about. We didn’t install any gates at all. We keep the door to the bathroom closed when there’s a bath running. We put outlet covers on the ones that were out in the open or in her bedroom. Mostly we just watch the kid. It’s not a huge apartment, so really, there’s only so far she can go.

    We keep knives away from her….screwed tall furniture to the walls. If we’re cooking, she knows she has to be a certain distance from the stove.

    She is 2 now…we’re thinking of getting something for the windows (since we’re 3 floors up) and a chain lock for the door, now that we’ve realized she can open her bedroom door herself.

  9. I think this really depends on your situation and on your baby.

    We’ve done the bare minimum of babyproofing, because we haven’t really needed it. Our apartment is small and we have a bully breed so we never leave the baby alone in a room. Honestly it’s not even an issue during the week because of our work schedules. We have a gate on the baby’s room but that’s really to keep the dog out. We put covers in the plugs because she finds them interesting. That’s it. I’d like to put a lock on the cabinets with chemicals and anchor the flat screen. We’ll do more if it becomes an issue, but right now, she’s just not into things. *shrug*

  10. We have quite the trouble maker on our hands so have done most of the things listed above. We also had a fireplace problem since it didn’t have attached doors and the kid quickly figured out how to crawl into it. We rendered it inoperable and put a small nightstand in it. (painted and made fun of course) It is now her toy cabinet and is working (for now)

  11. What we did: outlet covers, a baby gate, anchoring heavy furniture, moving breakables to out-of-reach shelves, and putting a baby fence around the entertainment center, since it was open and there were lots of blinking lights and electrical cords that she liked to play with. Because the baby gate keeps her away from where any chemicals are stored, we haven’t secured any cabinets or anything.

    Mostly we just keep an eye on her and tell her “no no” or “be careful” if she’s getting into anything she could break or that might hurt her and redirect her. The upside to this is that when we go somewhere that isn’t babyproofed, all we have to do now is say “no no” or “be careful” and she moves on. I know a lot of people don’t like the word no, but she’s VERY curious and active, and most people we know don’t have babyproofed homes, so this is really helpful for us.

    • Just about the word ‘no’… yes, a lot of people don’t like how much it is used, so I say “leave it” (leeeeeave it!) instead of “no” or “don’t touch” and he is learning… the down side is, when we go out and visit family/friends, everyone else says “no” or “don’t touch”!! 🙂

      • “leave it” is one of the commands we taught our dog. I always said, clicker training worked so well with the dog we’d use it on the kids 😀

  12. We’re babygating (I love how my phone changed that to baby hating) the basement stairs and the kitchen.
    Outlets will get those plastic covers and the furniture in the baby room has been bolted to the walls.
    One thing I still want to do is add window locks to the baby room because it looks out over our neighbors unsecured pool!

  13. Gates, outlet covers, and what’s called a “play yard” that’s actually marketed to people with children and people with pets (the one for kids is more expensive but the same thing)… the play yard was one of those things I hesitated on, but my daughter was walking at nine months – just try redirecting that!
    There’s also this raised brick hearth-type of thing with a wood stove on it (which the landlord won’t let me use?), and I slit those hollow pool noodles open to go over the evil-looking sharp edge of the brick. I ended up using double-sided foam tape to adhere them, though it never really worked out too well. But those noodles? Great for sharp edges (like a glass-top coffee table at my ex’s mom’s house).
    Oh, one last thing – I also dismantled my Ikea bookcase (flimsy & wobbly thing that it was) in case she tried to pull herself up on it & create an avalanche of Norton’s anthologies.
    It’s all really common sense stuff, and you’ll probably notice the worst of it before it becomes a problem.

  14. Apparently my mum went round the house on her hands and knees to figure out what was worth dealing with, like sockets, and what wasn’t, like the high cupboards in the kitchen.

    Also, let a pet come round for the day and see what trouble the little blighter gets into. I imagine that’d pretty much cover any possible baby incident

  15. Hi We did the usual, IKEA have most stuff and its pretty cheap, door gates etc, moved shelves at her height, moved stuff from the bottoms of shelves that we didnt want her to get, ie EVERYTHING! 😀 But our now walking daughter, suddenly got to the height of the dining room table, narrowly missing the corner with her head, gasps from both me and her Father sent him scrambling to distract her, (she was totally oblivious of course) and me to fetch an old burp cloth which I folded around the offending corner, taped it on and covered back over with the table cloth. It is much softer than any corner protector (and we did buy some, you’d still really hurt yourself if you walked into them, but with the burp cloth in place it was a nice soft cushion, and of course recycled 🙂 And I know you all have loads of the burp cloths lying around. 🙂 hugs x

  16. I’ve read that you can keep little ones from turning doorknobs by cutting the toe off an old sock and fixing it to the doorknob with a rubber band.

  17. The most important for me were getting doorknob covers for the bathroom, because I was terrified my kids would drown in the toilet. It sounds crazy but it’s seriously one of my biggest fears. To this day we have a “bathroom door is always closed” policy. Others were making sure each door leading outside has a sound. Ours is attatched to our alarm system and beeps is the front, back, or garage doors are opened, but I would recommend a bell or something, once your kids start walking. The third thing were corner protectors for sharp edges. My son gashed his head on our coffee table, and we won’t make that mistake again.

    For the rolling baby, just make sure anything that can fit in their mouth is off the floor. I never used outlet covers, but probably should have. Watch out for those springy door stoppers. Babies love to remove them, and I can see how that can be a choking or eye poking hazard. Also pick up any loose cables and make sure if you have dangling strings on your blinds they are out of reach.

  18. I wanted small boy to have space to ramble independently, so we made the main floor child-friendly. We gated our stairs (actually, we gated the landing so the cats could have an undisturbed place to eat), relocated breakables, anchored the bookcases (and loaded the lower shelves with his books), plugged the outlets, and used doorknob covers/cabinet locks for the rooms/cupboards with dangerous things in them. We still have a foam corner protector taped to the rough edge of the reclaimed brick hearth, though we don’t need it anymore — it makes it nicer to sit on! For a while we had similar protectors on the edges of furniture, and for a while we duct taped the toilet closed..not so much because we were worried he would fall in, but because he’d learned how to flush and seemed determined to plug up the plumbing with his toys. We had one of those play yards as well — never used it as a playyard but it blocked off the kitchen. Eventually we figured out that the oven shouldn’t actually get hot on the outside and replaced it…

  19. Ok so we did… nothing. The outlets are all just outlets, the stairs are just stairs. We did actually buy a baby gate but never put it up.

    We spent a long time following our crawling baby around because he made a beeline for the stairs whenever he could. He was OBSESSED with the stairs. We’d ask each other, “Oh, can you just follow him up the stairs? We’ll get that gate up tomorrow,” and then we never did.

    As a result, our son mastered stair climbing at 9 months, long before he walked. He is fine on stairs and we’re not even worried about it anymore. Now he’s 17 months and we just call out to him from other floors and he just climbs up and down the stairs to find us, no big deal.

    It’s possible people go too far with the baby proofing thing.

    We try not to, you know, leave the kitchen knives in his reach? Keep him from drinking cleaning products, which we’ve put in our high cabinet? Um. That’s kind of it.

    I want to add that it’s like this with food, too. We gave him finger foods from the beginning, and there was always someone freaking out, saying, “ARE YOU SURE HE WON’T CHOKE ON THAT?!” Well, he didn’t; he was fine.

    • Second about the stairs — though it won’t work for every child. We have a wild climber and he’s been attracted to stairs since he was six months old and could crawl. We could have blocked ours, but my parents have 3 little carpeted ones in the middle of their house, with no way to block it, so someone would have to be on constant stair-guarding duty. He was doing “feet first” by 8 or 9 months, with the result that he also was able to go up stairs at the playground and feet first down the slides by 10 months. Even once he started walking at 12 months, if he felt any kind of downhill when he was walking, he would get down, turn around, and “feet first” until the ground was level again. So we just kept all upstairs doors shut tight (we have old crystal knobs that are very loose and he can’t work them yet) and give him the run of the house.

      Not *every* kid is going to be able to do this, though — many go up long before they can go down.

  20. The thing I’ haven’t seen here that I would suggest is instead of attaching chains to the doors, they sell pop on/off doorknob covers you can put on the doors that adults can open and kids can’t. They’re fairly cheap and don’t require any installation.

  21. I’ll second what’s been said about outlet covers in the UK – I read a few weeks ago about the potential dangers and it really shocked me, so I removed all of the covers we’d put in place. (For anyone interested, the site I saw is http://www.fatallyflawed.org.uk)

    Other than that, we’ve got a gate on the door from the living room to the kitchen so that he can’t get in there, and we’ll get gates on all of the stairs (we have a 3-storey house) when he starts walking unaided. And we got some corner covers for the furniture in the living room because our little guy just loves to rush around with his wooden cart, so if he hits a corner he’d likely do it at speed! Also the chain stays on the front door. My biggest problem is our PC – he loves to press buttons and tug wires, and I have no idea how to keep him away from it, but there’s no other room that we can put it in than the living room. We have to just keep an eye on him for now but that’s going to get harder as he becomes more and more mobile!

  22. Honestly I think it depends on the child. Mine is a climber, so all of our furniture got bolted to the wall. But she’s really good about not touching stuff with only a verbal warning, so all our power cords, books, etc are within reach.

    The best advice about babyproofing that I got was that you only have to do it six inches at a time. 🙂

  23. I agree with the advice you’ve already gotten about watching your child and only babyproofing what you NEED to babyproof. Some things we did:

    1. Replaced the bottom two shelves of our bookcase with stuff our daughter could grab (mostly board books– she loved to rip real books)

    2. Moved cat food out of reach when it became a pain to keep her away from it

    3. Moved cat water bowls into the bathtub

    4. Put simple chains (from a hardware store) and clasps (the kind you use to hold keychains together) around certain cabinet doors– we used a long wooden spoon and a clothespin to keep some drawers shut. You can often just be creative with stuff you already have!

  24. Baby Kid’s only five months old herself, so it’s going to be a while before we need to think about toddler-izing the place, but lemme tell you something about vacuuming: DO IT. Otherwise Kid rolls around on the floor and gets my postpartum-balding hair all over herself.

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