It’s hard to get excited about systematically dismantling years of decorating and furniture layout perfection. But, the stakes are high and babyproofing is serious.
I’ve heard a lifetime of horror stories from my parents about things they’ve both seen from their time working in emergency rooms. My dad is a doctor, my mom is a nurse, and they will demonstrate for you how just about any object can earn your baby a trip to the ER. They even hold patents for babyproofing concepts. When it came time to babyproof our house, I asked them to come in and give us a safety makeover. They’re pros. This is what I learned from them.
The first thing we did was create one big area for the babies to play. We put up gates to keep them within the confines of the room and rearranged the furniture to create barricades from any sharp objects within the gated community. For example, we put the coffee table in the back corner of the room and put the couches in an L shape to prevent them from getting to it.
There are 2 main types of babyproofing gates: pressure mounted and wall bolted. We have a few of each.
Pressure mounted gates: This make/model is tall, sturdy, and really hard to open. It comes with extensions, so you can easily get the gate to fit in your door frame. We have an extra wide door frame that we had no trouble getting the gate into with 2 of the extensions. One of the perks of pressure mounted gates is that they don’t leave any marks on the wall. When it comes time to take these gates down, we won’t have to repair the door frame. Hands down, this is my favorite gate.
Wall mounted gates: When it’s not a simple doorframe that you need to block off, we found that these gates worked best. In our house, we have a really large entrance into the living room. These wall mounted gates are extra large and can reach the whole way across. They’re also very flexible, so you could use them to block off a fireplace, staircase, etc. You can even just make a freestanding circle out of the gate if you wanted a small playpen. So, if the space is anything other than a standard doorframe this gate is your best option.
Next, we took down everything on the walls that they could reach. We had a full length mirror that they wanted to pull up on. That had to go. We had a tall lamp that could have fallen off of the table with enough tugging on the cord. That got thrown in the closet. Any big objects that remained possibly within reach needed to be reinforced to the wall. Think earthquake caliber levels of reinforcement. We secured the TV to the wall with these earthquake straps.
Within the gated community, we also needed to cover the outlets. There are a few different ways to cover the outlets. Depending on how often you need access to the outlet, you may choose the style that works best for your needs. We have a combination of 4 different outlet guards.
1 . Outlet plugs
(Sidenote: What’s that awesome cushion protecting the base of the table? Oh, just a repurposed magical twin feeding pillow that every twin parent knows about.)
With the outlets fully protected (and thus boring), the babies are usually drawn to the furniture in the room. We love the couch cruising, but we could do without the sharp edges on tables, hutches, media centers, etc. We found great table edge protectors and thick corner bumpers. I love this brand, because they make many different colors that you can match to your furniture. In addition to blending in and making it look less like you live in a McDonald’s Playplace, it also doesn’t attract excessive amounts of attention to draw the babies in.
You will also want to look under tables to find sharp objects. There are all kinds of screws and latches underneath some tables that they can bump their heads on when they learn to stand up. We cut small pieces of the squishy edge protectors and taped them over the screws. The more you can make them blend in, the less it will attract the babies:
The next thing we tackled were the cabinets. There are a few different types of cabinet locks. I was only familiar with the clunky ones that go on the outside of cabinets. My parents introduced me to the new fancy (and inexpensive) magnetic cabinet locks. I LOVE these, because you can’t even see them from the outside of the cabinet. You install the lock on the inside of the cabinet and use a magnetic wand to open it. Genius. Here they are in action:
As you bring the magnet near the cabinet, it flips the lock down and allows you to open the cabinet:
My parents installed these on all of the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom vanities. You can buy a big pack of magnetic cabinet locks, and never have to worry about using the big, bulky, and ugly ones that go on the outside of cabinets. Thanks, dad!
If there is anything really harmful (medications, dishwasher detergent pods, cleaning solutions, etc.) they either have to be completely out of reach or in a room they can’t go into. Ideally both.
Even though we’ve created a big play space for them, they still need to be very carefully watched. If we need to leave the room for a moment, we put them in the secret toy garden until we come back into the room.
Play safely, little diaper checkers!