Baby proofing the home: Where do you start?
I'm not going to lie, I was totally intimidated. I also thought it must be super obvious because every parent proofs - I must be missing something. So I quietly did my online research, got super frustrated, and had some pretty bad proofing fails.
It turns out that even though 95% of parents baby proof their home, few new parents know exactly how to start the process of childproofing. It's not just me. After talking to hundreds of parents, some common concerns bubbled up identical to what I was feeling: "What if I buy the wrong products?", "What if I install it wrong?" ... "What if?" There was a lot of worry, angst and fear surrounding products that should bring peace of mind.
Before we go down the proofing rabbit hole, this is the most important piece of information that you will hear from me time and time again: No baby proofing item is a substitute for adult supervision. Period. Let me say that another way: Yes, you still need to watch your kid. These items are aides in creating a safe environment, but 100% adult supervision and your parental judgment are the most important factors in home safety for your child. Baby proofing items are only supplements in your safety mix.
So to start at square one, here is a high level overview of the basic items most parents will use to baby proof their home - keep in mind, you won't need every product because of your unique home layout. To start, the first thing you should do is assess the stage of proofing you need for your child. Don’t worry I’ll do a deep dive on each one of these phases in separate articles.
There are 3 main phases:
Each of these phases requires different proofing products because a child that is crawling and scooting most likely won’t be accessing the same things an upwardly mobile climbing child will be (think low lying electric outlet covers vs. high window blind cords).
The good news is that you don’t go from Phase 1 – 3 overnight as there is usually about a 3 to 6 month window from crawling to walking. BUT, there are always exceptions ‘cause dem babies like to keep us on our toes! I’ve heard of kids skipping crawling and going straight to RUNNING or being K2 level climbers before walking. So make sure to childproof beyond your child's phase, and not follow a particular timeline.
Here are the main home safety categories to consider:
Safety gates (tension mount gates, hardware fixed mount gates and superyard)
Electrical safety (outlet plug covers, outlet plate covers, power surge strip covers)
Cabinets (locks, safety catches and magnetic locks)
Sharp edge and corner protection (coffee tables, media cabinets, fireplaces)
Doors (door knob covers, lever covers, door slamming protection)
Bathroom (toilet seat locks, bathtub spout covers, anti-slip pads and bathmats)
Kitchen (oven locks, stove knob covers, refrigerator locks, appliance locks)
Misc (anti-tip straps for TV, furniture, window cord winders, washer/dryer safety, banister safety)
Chemicals (cleaning supplies, medicines, personal care items)
Outdoors (pools, dangerous plants, unstable structures and elevated ledges)
Consider your unique home set-up:
Do you have stairs?
Do you mind installing into plaster, drywall, studs or wood?
Do you have extra-wide passageways (over 46”)?
Do you live in an old home that may have un-level floors/walls?
Do you have low or high baseboards?
Do you rent?
Do you have easy to access windows (windows in a door or that swing or slide open without restraint)?
These can all be addressed and may require unique or specialized installation products. Well, unless you have this crazy house in which case I highly recommend bringing in professional baby proofing services.
OK, that’s a lot to get the safety juices flowing. Do the mental assessment for your home and get ready for a ton of great information to come your way in the deep dive articles.