For parents, the joys of seeing your little one learn to pull himself up and take those first wobbling, unassisted steps are often tempered by the horror of looking around and suddenly seeing everything in your house as a potential instrument of injury.
Whether you’re scrambling to secure all of the would-be hazards in your house before your little one gets a hold of them or you’re expecting friends or family with toddlers in tow, following are some quick, easy and inexpensive fixes to keep your valuables in place and your ‘most valuables’ uninjured:
- Cabinets: Depending on your child’s temperament, you could approach securing your floor-level cabinets in two ways:
- iChild safety locks: For many children, the struggle against a child safety lock on a cabinet is enough to humor them for a minute or two before they move on to something more entertaining. Others, however, can easily become frustrated with being locked out and might start a tantrum. In these cases, consider either reorganizing your cabinets or using a combination of both locks and reorganizing.
- Reorganizing: By putting only harmless items in floor-level cabinets such as Tupperware, pots and pans and blunt cooking utensils such as wooden spoons, you can feel reasonably safe if your toddler gets into the cabinets.
- The pinch factor: Little fingers are very prone to getting pinched in cabinet doors, regardless of whether they have a safety lock on them. For doors your child likes to frequent, consider putting a short length of thick adhesive foam near the top edge to keep the door from slamming shut. You can also purchase foam u-shapes made just for this purpose.
- Bookshelves: For top-heavy bookshelves, use hinges or braces to attach the upper and lower parts of the shelf to the wall to prevent accidental tipping.
- The books: For lower shelves, consider running a piece of bicycle tubing across the front center of each shelf. This will keep your toddler from pulling out heavy books but still keep them accessible. Attach the tubing on the sides of the cabinet, not the front, for a cleaner appearance.
- Top-heavy furniture: Top-heavy furniture and heavy items on pedestals or thin-legged tables should probably be moved into storage for a couple years. Otherwise, consider bracing them to a wall or another secured piece of furniture.
- Hard-edged furniture: Consider moving items such as coffee tables and other low, hard-edged pieces of furniture into storage for a couple of years. The extra space will give your little one more room to move around and less surface areas to bump into. Otherwise, consider purchasing plumber’s tube insulation and running it around all of the low, hard edges in the house.
- Low-hanging curtains, blind cords and table covers: While your toddler is awake and roaming, keep floor-length curtains and blind cords out of the way by folding them up and over traditional curtain hooks. Table covers such as runners, doilies and tablecloths should be removed and avoided for a couple of years.
- Wall sockets: Plug all unused wall sockets with plug covers. You can also use clear packaging tape for a quick, temporary fix.
- Plugs and power cords: For sockets that are in-use, secure the cords against the baseboard or wall either with electrical tape or small plastic hooks that screw into the wall and hold the cord in place.
- Surge protectors: If you have a lot of cords running out of a surge protector that’s not tucked behind a piece of furniture, consider placing the surge protector into a small plastic crate and running the cords through the openings. You can attach the crate to the wall with hinges or strong Velcro. For a quick, super cheap fix, consider taping a clear plastic deli container over the in-use sockets.
- Stairs: Stairs are the only exception in terms of inexpensive solutions. With stairs, child safety gates are a necessity.
Parent Placement Training
Babyproofing also requires some basic training on the parents’ part. Instead of leaving the remote out, for example, put it on top of the TV or somewhere out of reach. Coffee mugs shouldn’t be left on low tables and any items small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube should be kept out of reach either in sealed Tupperware containers or unreachable drawers.
Even after taking all of the precautions you can think of, there’s still a chance your toddler will figure out something to get his or her hands on. Just continue to keep that ever-vigilant eye on your little one and together, you’ll both learn how to turn your house into a safe and happy toddler-proof home.
Jessica Johnson works for Extra Space Storage and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.