Want my 15 second advice on babyproofing? Have all the stuff ready, purchased and confirmed then HOLD ONTO IT until your baby begins his or her road to mobility. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself absolutely BATTY dealing with plug covers and baby gates before your baby can even hold their head up and you’ll lose it all, break it all or worse, forget where you put it. Every visit Vivi’s doctor would remind me about babyproofing and I would nod along, “This isn’t my first baby rodeo doc.” I would want to say but I just smiled and assured him I was on top of it.
Yes, babies will find things you never even thought of (Vivi simply ADORES slamming her fingers in drawers) but there are a few basics you should plan to have covered and ready to go for when chubby little fingers go getting curious.
BEFORE THE BABY – Secure furniture to the wall. Since this one isn’t visual, you’ll forget about it and most likely you’ll be reminded after it’s too late. Please for the love of that little baby, secure your furniture to walls, thank you. (Even if you think it can’t tip over, it can, I’ve seen it happen.) As for poisons, cleaners and tools. Move these now. This is another one you’ll forget about until it’s too late. Get used to having them locked up and putting them back there when you’re done.
Outlet Covers – Choose your own adventure here, a majority of our outlets simply have the little flat faced plastic plug inserts. These can be choking hazards if they’re left out and about and can break a nail every time you need to get into them. Use them on the outlets you don’t use all that often and opt for a sliding face outlet cover for plugs you use regularly (like for your vacuum.) If you have something that needs to stay plugged in at all times (a lamp or TV) look for a cover that encases the outlet and the plug entirely, allowing the cord to come out the bottom. (Also, the newer your house the more outlets you’ll find. I think I ended up counting around 87. EIGHTY SEVEN.) If you do choose sliding face outlet covers, make sure they actually fit your outlets before committing to them, for some reason they didn’t fit mine and it was somewhat infuriating.
Baby Gates – First, MAKE SURE THEY’RE WIDE ENOUGH! Second, if you’re hard mounting them install all the hardware as soon as you get the gate home, make sure it fits and that it’s functional then take the gate down until you’re really ready to use it, that way there’s a lesser chance of it getting damaged or broken before your baby truly tries launch themselves down the stairs. For pressure mounted, same thing, make sure they fit, you know how to use them and that they’re installed correctly, then take them off for the first 3 months or so after your baby is born. (Holding a newborn and dealing with gates on stairs isn’t exactly awesome.) If you need gates anywhere else, take into account who needs in and out of them and when. We have two cats so the gates have to be high enough that they can slide under but low enough that the baby can’t get under as well. (But cats! They should jump gates! You’re right, but I have one cat that is old and doesn’t jump.) If you have other little kids in the house make sure they can use the gate or that they know not to climb it but wait for help with it (especially at the top of stairs.)
Appliance Locks and Cabinet Locks – Babyproofing in the kitchen is perhaps the most infuriating, you’re so used to being able to get into drawers and cabinets quickly and easily and being able to adjust the knobs on a stove with ease. Babies screw all of that up. We had cabinet locks in our kitchen already installed when we moved in and I told Cody not to take them down because those things can be a PAIN to install. We just got used to them. (Also, the screw in ones work hundreds of times better than the sticky ones.) As for our gas stove and range, I had the caps ready to go and the oven lock on standby for when Vivi began standing and being able to reach them. So far we haven’t had an issue with the dishwasher or fridge but I’m aware of the possibility.
Sharp Corners – We have a fireplace hearth of DEATH. I wasn’t sure I’d find anything suitable to cover it short of a helmet for the baby. We found a foam edge that sticks on with double sided sticky Velcro and while it’s going to be a pain to remove someday, it’s saved the baby’s noggin on several occasions from being beaned really hard. Corner guards are also a good idea if you have super sharp furniture.
The only thing we really have left in our house are the doorknobs (she can’t reach them yet, but I have the doorknob covers on standby) and the toilets (hopefully we can keep her away from those by shutting bathroom doors.)
Nothing can replace a parents vigilance or supervision when it comes to babyproofing, but there are plenty of gadgets that can help. (Seriously, take a look at the babyproofing aisle at a baby superstore, you’ll be convinced your house is a giant death trap for babies.) Be aware of what’s out there and available so if a specific situation comes up you’ll be ready to combat it with some cleverly designed plastic, metal, screws and sticky stuff.
Here’s what we’ve done in our own house as far as babyproofing, we had to go a little crazy with the gates given we have very steep stairs with a very hard wood floor at the bottom as well as kitty food, water and litter to keep away from little hands.
Pantry Gate 1 of 6We still needed easy access to the pantry (our garbage is right around the corner) and the cats needed to be able to get to their food, water and litter. By installing the gate just a few inches higher than normal the cats can get in while the baby stays out. This gate also has a stay open feature which is great for when the baby's asleep.
Bottom of the Stairs 2 of 6I opted for a pressure mount dark hardwood gate to match our floors. I wish it had a stay open feature like our pantry gate, but it does its job of keeping the baby off the stairs.
Top of the Stairs 3 of 6This is the only hardware mounted gate in our house and it took an entire evening to get the darn thing figured out, the instructions were were than IKEA doodles. But it's a sturdy gate and will keep that baby at the top of the stairs until we say she can come down.
Stove and Oven Guards 4 of 6The plastic knob covers work well, however they can break after too much use or when something is dropped on them, best to have a back up set if you can. The oven lock won't work on every oven, but if it works on yours it's wonderful piece of mind.
Outlet Cover 5 of 6We have one lamp that stays plugged in at all times, we have this outlet cover over the plug so the baby can't mess with it, the bad news is neither Cody nor I can get it off either.
Outlet Covers 6 of 6These ones work well enough, but I have a feeling Vivi and her little mischievous fingers will figure out how to dig them out pretty soon.