When it comes to buying baby proofing products, almost all parents adopt a piece-meal approach and buy some products online and other items in a physical store. This post will cover the best places to get your baby proofing gear along with some helpful tips to make the process smoother.
Truth be told, I’m an ecommommy. I buy everything from toilet paper to snacks online and wouldn’t function without being a click away from home delivery. It turns out I'm not alone as over 50% of parents buy their baby proofing gear online according to the Proofed 2014 national study. Although more and more parents are shopping online, baby proofing products are readily available in many big retailers - you just need to know a few tips to make sure you get everything on your list.
Here’s a breakdown of where most people get their gear:
Smaller items (non-gates)
Items like outlet plugs, door knob protectors and cabinet locks are available at many of your favorite stores, you probably just weren’t looking for baby proofing gear and never noticed.
Top shopping options:
- Mass retailers: Target and Walmart
- Baby specialty stores: Babies R US, Buy Buy BABY and smaller local chains
- Online: Amazon.com, Diapers.com, Target.com
- Hardware stores: Home Depot, Lowes, OSH and Ace.
Special note for online shopping: You will find a much larger selection of babyproofing products online but that also means on a site like Amazon, there may be multiple vendors fulfilling your order. To keep shipping costs down, make sure you can lump together products.
For a greater variety of color options, like a sharp edge protector that matches your coffee table wood, you may strike out at physical stores because they don't have the shelf space to carry everything. If you need to preview the product in person, first check online if the product is offered and ask if the retailer can make the item available for pick-up at your local store. Otherwise, your product may be a "long tail" item that may only be available online. Boot up that modem!
Larger items (gates)
Baby safety gates are just like our smaller long tail items because many physical stores don’t have the shelf space to keep these big, bulky items on display (although a good baby specialty store will have a large gate selection on their retail floor).
No matter where you shop, there is an almost a 100% chance you will not get to demo or use the product before you need to buy it so make sure to brush up on childproofing trouble shooting tips to minimize returns.
Top shopping options:
- Physical stores: Buy Buy BABY has the best gate display I have found thus far. They literally have a wall of gates - but you may not have this chain in your neighborhood.
- Online: Amazon rules the world on this (shocking, no?) and with Prime, most gates are free shipping. Score!
Professional Baby Proofing Companies
Some parents opt to hire a baby proofing service company to come to their home to install baby proofing products. After talking to hundreds of parents, folks that hire a professional happen to be the happiest people with their baby proofing experience, hands down, and it all boils down to 1) having someone tell you what products to use and 2) not having to do the installation. On the flip side, using a servicer is considerably more expensive than the DIY route. The average childproofing installation cost was $455 in 2015 according to HomeAdvisor.
Most times, these companies will do an on-site assessment of your home, recommend specific products to baby proof your home and usually offer installation services. Purchasing products from these guys is usually more expensive than buying online but many parents wave this away for the benefit of the peace of mind they get knowing the installation was done professionally.
Professional Services are also a must if you have complicated areas of your home – most notably your stairs, banister, fireplace or pool. Please don't be a MacGyver and try to jerry-rig your gate, leave that to the professionals.
To find the best servicer, follow these steps:
- Pump your network for references, especially if you belong to a parents group.
- Do an online search for Baby Proofing [Your City Name Here]. These companies are localized so you want to find one that will come to your neck of the woods.
- Check out online reviews from Yelp and Angieslist.com. They usually have some helpful consumer reviews but be careful with the 1-star posts in ALL CAPS. So aggressive.
- Once you have found 2 to 3 companies, go to the company website to check out their services. Look for:
- Years of service
- Number of customers served
- Specialties (like stairs or pool fencing)
- Installation pictures to see the quality of their work
- Professional affiliations: Some companies are bonded and insured like a normal contractor.
Here’s a database of baby proofing service companies that belong to the International Association for Child Safety.
Previously Owned Baby Proofing Gear
Some parents and caregivers opt to get their baby proofing gear from places like Craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores or friends and family hand-me-downs. While it can be a considerable cost savings to go this route, from a safety standpoint this can be a lot dicier.
Make sure to double check products for recall information on www.recalls.gov. This database is pretty easy to use and can make all the difference for your little’s safety.
Another top concern here is that if a product has been significantly used and abused, it may not function the way the manufacturer intends anymore – so even if it isn’t of recall concern, it may not be doing its safety job the best it can. For this issue alone, it’s best to invest in new products that are up to date with consumer regulations and testing requirements.
With all these options you are ready to go forth and proof your little one's world! Shoot me a note firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how your purchasing experience went - good, bad or ugly I want to hear about it! If you found this article helpful, like it below.