I had three kids in three years, so I know all too well the struggles that come up for parents as soon as their kids are mobile — which literally happens overnight, by the way.
Baby proofing isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and it can also feel overwhelming to busy parents. That’s why we decided to talk to Clint Harp, the talented woodworking father of three who makes gorgeous pieces for Chip and Joanna Gaines on our favorite HGTV show, Fixer Upper.
Harp has teamed up with Safety 1st to help celebrate their Highest Standard in Safety commitment to set their own manufacturing and testing standards — and today, he’s also sharing his own tips and tricks on baby proofing. So, settle in, relax, and get ready to feel more at ease about the whole process!
1. Start Early
First, Harp says you can never start the baby proofing process too early.
“When the baby comes, your whole life changes and things get crazy fast,” he says.
Don’t wait until your child is toddling around and getting into everything. Instead, try to get started before your child is mobile and can get around on their own. This makes it easier for you to get it done efficiently and gives you peace of mind to enjoy them once they are getting around. After all, it’s pretty difficult to baby proof while your baby in constantly in motion.
2. Do It All at Once
“Rather than pulling out the tools four or five different times, take a few hours and do it [all],” says Harp.
This is a time-saver and makes you hone in on everything that needs to be done, instead of just a little here and a little there.
Also, there are now baby proofing items available with adhesive that you don’t need to screw in (from things like lock systems to furniture bumpers). They can stand up to tugging and pulling (not to mention the “easy” factor for those of us who aren’t handy).
3. Cover Every Room
Often, baby proofing the kitchen and bathrooms are at the forefront of our minds, but Harp says any room your child goes into should be baby proofed.
“Many people overlook playrooms or living rooms,” says Harp.
While we usually remember to get locks on the toilets and drawers that contain cleaners, medicines, and cosmetics, Harp points out that it’s also important not to forget things like “coffee table corners, your television, and large cabinets.” When it comes to things like the TV and other electronics, Harp recommends using furniture straps to secure them to the wall.
One added bonus of baby proofing every room is that the extra peace of mind can help you focus on other things. In fact, Harp says when his kids were young and he was working out of his home, having everything baby proofed in advance was key for him.
“I had to dedicate my time to my business when I was working, and I was able to do that with the kids home because I knew they were safe and I wasn’t having to run around every few minutes to tend to them,” he says.
4. Remember You Can’t Overdo It
Harp recommends doing what you feels is necessary as a parent to keep your kids safe, but says you really “can’t over baby-proof.”
Case in point: He notes the importance of even keeping things away from our kids that aren’t necessarily dangerous, but will save you time and energy if they are locked away, such as “important papers, pens, and Sharpies that can end up all over your wall.”
5. Don’t Let Style Take a Backseat
Harp says style doesn’t have to take a backseat when you become a parent. For example, baby gates now come in different finishes to match your decor!
He says you can even have a beautifully decorated home and show off your baby locks simultaneously — the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
“If Joanna Gaines decorated your house, [you’d] find baby proofing items designed to fit into your home,” he says.
Finally, Harp recommends going to CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to read up on the guidelines when trying to figure out what works best in your home.
Baby proofing doesn’t have to be as labor intensive as you might think. Before you know it, your kids won’t need those baby gates and locks, so it’s best to put the time and effort in now — and enjoy this fleeting time while they are young.