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The Common-Sense Approach to Baby-Proofing

The Common-Sense Approach to Baby-Proofing

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

Have you really not tackled baby proofing?! You have been my go-to girl for all things baby: sleep, solids, cloth diapers, etc. I searched the archives and ..nada. I have a very active 6 month old boy. He is already crawling and pulling up to standing (eek). I am feeling totally overwhelmed by all the products. What do I need? What can I skip? I should probably add, I never leave him unattended, but he is fast and has more strength than sense at the moment.


Confession time: The reason I have pointedly avoided the baby-proofing discussions is because I have NO IDEA how to write about it WITHOUT sounding like a lazy, negligent monster.

Here’s the extent of the specialized baby-proofing gadgets we purchased, and how they ultimately worked for us:

1) Outlet covers.

Still in use, in just about every available outlet in the house. We went with the uber-basic plastic plug-in kind that break your nails off every time you try to remove them. Never, ever once saw Noah pay even the slightest bit of attention to the electrical outlets, but one time I caught Ezra crawling towards one with purpose in his eyes and a rouge metal baby fork in his hand. So I guess they proved to be a pretty good move in the end. BONUS: One time I went to plug in the vacuum only to discover that the cover had completely MELTED inside the plug. Turned out our new home had a completely overloaded electrical circuit that needed to be fixed ASAP before an electrical fire started. Forget the kids, that melted outlet cover basically saved our house. In summary: YAY OUTLET COVERS.

2) Blind pull covers.

These were circular white covers for wrapping up dangling strings around blinds that still SUPPOSEDLY allowed you to raise and lower the blinds. We purchased these half for the toddler, and half for our cat, who likes to chew on our blind pulls and has actually destroyed more a few of them. Could never keep them from popping open every time we went to open or close the blinds, thus requiring us to re-wind the strings back up and oh, crap, I did it backwards and you know, I’ll just mash the strings in there and close it up with brute force. Noah figured out how to disassemble them around two-and-a-half, then we lost a couple of them and now we just sort of tuck and/or toss the strings from our blinds up and hopefully out of reach, like we did before. In summary: Get these only if you agree to never, ever open or close your blinds again. Otherwise, just scotch-tape the pulls to the wall, if you have to.

3) Cabinet drawer and door locks/latches, various styles/brands.

My husband once spent an entire afternoon dutifully drilling holes for every drawer or cabinet in our kitchen that held anything vaguely dangerous. By that evening, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. had broken in half or snapped clean off. I am not exaggerating, and I don’t know if he just installed them wrong or we should have known to avoid the plastic kinds or we simply have Bizarrely Powerful Drawers or what. But these were the most annoying, flimsiest things I have ever encountered and we simply decided to reorganize our cabinets and drawers to keep knives and cleaning products out of reach. In summary: HATE, especially because the locks were fleeting, but the drill-holes are forever.

4) Baby gates.

At one point we had about five of them. All kinds, too. We had the retractable pull-out ones that basically roll completely out of sight, the tension-mounted ones that don’t require any screws or drilling to install (but ding the HELL out of your walls and paint, anyway), portable play-yard style boundary gates, and one super-fancy metal old-fashioned gate-type one that we inherited from the previous owners. In summary: That last one I mentioned was a pretty expensive gate, actually, but it also was the only one that one of my children managed to accidentally knock open. Then he fell down the stairs. Thanks, gate. The easily-moveable tension ones are great for bringing along to Grandma’s maybe less-than-ideally baby-proofed house, but once your child weighs enough they can TOTALLY knock them over if they want to. (HINT: THEY WANT TO.) The play-yard style “baby jail” is fabulous. Even if your kid will only tolerate it for five minutes at a time, it’s an INVALUABLE five minutes during which you can go to the bathroom without coming back to a bloody nose and chipped tooth. The retractable roller-type gates are a pain in the neck to open and close, and likely to baffle most adults who come into your home, but if you need to install a gate that DOESN’T include a permanent tripping-hazard even when it’s open, these are the BEST option. We will have three installed at the top and bottom of our stairs. They’re more for our dog now, but I still use them to keep the kids confined to a single floor a lot of the time.

5) Tub mat and faucet cover.

We have a giant rubber mat in the kids’ bathtub to prevent slips and falls, and a cheerful rubber frog over the pointy metal faucet in case a little head or face decided to smash into it. (This really only became a real possibility once we were bathing two kids at a time and pushing/shoving came into play.) My husband wanted to get one of those things that visually gauge the water temperature by turned red when it gets too hot, or something, but instead we went with this really cool product called “MOM OR DAD’S HAND.” Simply stick it under the running water and ta-da! Instantly sense whether or not you need to correct the temperature! In summary: It works great!

And…yeah. I think that’s it. That’s all we’ve ever purchased, even with Ezra, who has NO FEAR and even LESS SENSE. No corner table guards, no toilet locks, no bubble wrap around every hard surface that kind of juts out at toddler head-level. SO MUCH of this stuff really depends on your specific house (and your kid) and how much shifting and moving of really dangerous items you can do, but we really shunned most of the pricey plastic “solution” doohickeys and went with simply moving things higher up, or putting certain things AWAY for good (easily-toppled glass-topped endtables, for example). Household cleansers or anything possibly toxic are all up OVER our sink now, or on shelves over the washer/dryer in the completely off-limits-to-children area of our basement. Lower cabinets and drawers are full of…tupperware, or plastic measuring spoons and dish towels. Same for the bathrooms. Nothing but towels and spare tissue boxes.

We’ve probably done more than our fair share of “no, no, no-ing” and setting boundaries VERY EARLY about what could be opened and what was off-limits. Yes, I expect my children to understand and respond to “no” and my tone of voice, reinforced by being RIGHT THERE to pull them back and gently correct them many, many times before the concept “clicked.” They are NEVER left alone in the bathroom or tub, and there are only now, after much trial and error and OH CRAP, a couple of rooms where I feel comfortable letting them roam completely free and semi-unsupervised. (Their bedrooms, basically.)

And yes, both of my kids bonked their heads, tripped on the stairs, fell off the furniture and gotten the occasional bloody lip or nose. (Not gonna lie. Mostly Ezra.) We keep ice packs and a very well-stocked first-aid kit in the house. Those are definitely must-haves. They’ve been black and blue and red and swollen and still occasionally manage to make me feel like a complete MORON for missing an obvious injury-waiting-to-happen. (This Christmas. Ezra + a stocking + one of those metal Pottery Barn stocking holders + BAM, HEAD, FACE.) They’ve occasionally gotten ahold of something they shouldn’t, like…scissors that were accidentally left out, or a bottle of spray cleaner that got put in the wrong cabinet. We have *knock on wood* never had to rush to the doctor or emergency room after a household accident. (Those are reserved for encounters with escalators at Barnes & Noble. YAY.)

Do your best to remove or modify the most obvious of dangers — the things that could be REALLY BAD, and you’ll know what these are, really — but recognize that a certain amount of bumps and falls are a completely okay and normal part of growing up. Cover up outlets, bolt tall furniture to walls, move sharp or toxic items far out of reach, keep dangerous appliances like shredders, toasters and blenders unplugged. (And if your doors lock from the inside, make sure you keep a key or lock-picker thing on the top of every doorframe. GOOD GOD, MY CHILDREN ARE EVIL.) Those rubber puzzle-like play mats are a nice temporary and moveable/adaptable solution for keeping hardwood floors semi-padded for swan dives off of furniture, though in our experience, 1) they will ALWAYS land six inches to the right of the covered part of the floor no matter what you do, and 2) our dog had a hard time distinguishing between “floor mat” and “outside potty area.”

But they really DO LEARN. They learn about gravity and why listening to Mama is important and what words like “hot” or “dangerous” really mean. Eventually. Feel free to improvise all you want in the meantime. But I promise, you won’t have to live in a house with empty bottom shelves and non-Feng-Shui’d higher shelves full of clutter, retrieving steak knives from a plastic tub on top of the refrigerator forever.

If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Isabel


    January 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I followed the “paranoid-approach” to baby-proofing and hired a child-proofing carpenter to come to my apartment. However, I didn’t let him upsell me everything in his toolkit.

    The one area I found to be a particularly great investment was that he installed lots of high quality/ sturdy latches on cabinets (which didn’t break at all) and affixed tall and heavy furniture to walls. I have an active child who demonstrated that temperament very early on and having those things done gave me comfort as far as that went.

  • Olivia

    January 24, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Let’s see…we went with outlet covers, but don’t plug every outlet because they are a pain to take out. And my daughter is super interested in plugging in the vacuum cord so I’m just teaching her how to do it correctly.

    Hated those cabinet locks that require drilling. I couldn’t get the first on I did to even latch right, so we went with one that sticks on the outside. It basicall tethers the door to the cabinet. Somewhat useful in the early months, but she can totally take them off now. Fortunately, out 1950s kitchen cabinets have the awesome handles that latch tight and you have to press a button to open like a car door. So that helps.

    Bought 2 fancy, tension baby gates for about $35 each and they’ve actually been helpful. One is currently blocking access to a book shelf in the office and the other the litter box (from both toddler and dog).

    We put foam padding around the coffee table edge and one side table. These were sort of helpful she she was first learning to stand and walk, but eventually she started pulling it off and it left sticky stuff that is impossible to get off. Not sure we’ll do this one again.

  • AJU5's Mom

    January 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I have used rubber bands and rope to keep cabinets closed (rope for our cabinets that don’t have knobs next to each other). It worked just as well as anything else, and it was easy to remove when we needed in.
    We have done some outlet covers – but only in the areas where the kids will be tempted.
    Oh, and we just close doors for most everything else!

  • Stephanie

    January 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

    We live in a split-level home with stairs everywhere! There was no way we were going to spend a thousand dollars to baby-gate every stairway (because that would have resulted in 9 gates). Instead, we have a baby gate at the bottom of the steps in the “play room” (repurposed living room). It still took us forever to install it, until our friends came to stay with us. They have a little boy who is MUCh faster than our daughter. It has been a godsend, because we can keep it closed without having to run after her ALL the time. The other place we have the baby gate is at the top of the stairs. We were lucky in that 90% of the kitchen cabinets were already baby-proofed when we moved in, although my smart little engineer of a toddler has already figured out how to open some of them. But, like Amy said, we never leave her unattended and we tell her firmly “no, we don’t do that.”

  • MS

    January 24, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for your perspective on this topic Amy! This is one area of parenthood/child rearing that seems to have gotten totally insanely out of control. Would be easier to bubble wrap the children than child proof your home to prevent every single injury. So, thanks for putting the “common sense” approach out there!

  • Daisy

    January 24, 2011 at 11:52 am

    A family I nannied for had a magnetic system for kitchen/bathroom cabinets and drawers (a quick Amazon search shows it was probably the TotLoc system). It was AMAZING. It worked like a charm through 3 kids, never broke and didn’t pinch any fingers. They had “opening” keys stuck to the top of the fridge, the kitchen sink, the medicine cabinet and you just grabbed one, waved it in front of the door, and poof it was open. Nothing on the outside – it was great.

  • Jessicawp

    January 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    We took a pretty minimal approach to babyproofing for our now two year old. Kitchen cabinets and the pantry were rearranged, but we do use some basic cabinet latches. We got the same kind the daycare uses since I figure they know about that sort of stuff. The outlet covers have almost all disappeared by now and I just loop and tuck the cords to the window blinds around a plastic cleat drilled into the inside of the window frame.

    We ended up with three different baby gates: a tension mounted one with pet door to the hallway with the cat litter box, one at the bottom of the stairs and a portable tension mounted one for upstairs that we would put in the hallway whenever we were upstairs.

    We also got rid of our pointy edged glass topped coffee table and got a leather storage ottoman instead. Soft corners and extra storage are awesome. We placed some nic-nacs and books in glass door cabinets with cabinet locks, but that was more so the stuff would be left alone than because it was dangerous.

  • S

    January 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    We went very basic and then kept an eye on our daughter to see what she was unsafely interested in. In the end, this is what we wound up with : (1) magnetic latches in a couple of the kitchen cabinets; (2) foam edging for a glass tv stand and the futon corners; (3) some plastic outlet covers (both the cheap-o kind and the more complex kind, just because that is what was handed down to us); (4) gates at the top and bottom of the stairs; (5) a plastic sliding latch through the handles of the bottom of our china cabinet; (6) and in the nursery, we have a rectangular plastic cover over the power strip for the lamp, monitor, etc. Otherwise, all the other safety gadgets that seem so compelling weren’t necessary for our kid. We moved the poisonous and/or breakable stuff to higher shelves, and so far it’s been fine. She’s 2, so maybe we’ll wind up securing some of our bookshelves to the walls, but so far she’s not really a climber, so we’ll see.

  • Susan

    January 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    There’s one area you didn’t mention here that I’ve been worrying over lately. I was at home sick one day recently and saw a TERRIFYING segment on the Today show or GMA. It was about keeping medicine away from toddlers. I won’t relate the god-awful thing that prompted this segment, but I am now planning to move all medicines somewhere impossible to reach. My toddler hasn’t climbed to upper cabinet level yet, but apparently some can/do — and that’s where a lot of folks store their medicine. Perhaps I could attach a baby-proof latch to my “medicine cabinet.”

  • Brooke

    January 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Yes, you really, really should anchor your tall furniture to the walls. Because the shelves can be very appealing to a climber, and the bookshelf can tip over if they get high enough.

    Also, pressure mount gate at the top of the stairs= BAD IDEA. My son knocked it out and fell down the (tile!) stairs to my mom’s basement. He only went as far as the landing, Thank God, but he was really, really bruised for a very long time. I almost think not having a gate would have been better, since I don’t think he would have gotten as close to the edge.

  • Kirstie

    January 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Susan – definitely move it up high! Even “child-proof” caps on medicine bottles aren’t stopping the more determined little monkeys. At 2 1/2 my brother was able to get up from a nap, get to the bathroom and on top of the counter to the medicine cabinet, unscrew a bottle of a medication my mom had for me (I was 5? 6?) and guzzle it down, all in the five minutes it took my mom to flip laundry from washer to dryer in the basement during his “nap”. (My poor mother had two monkey children – we climbed EVERYTHING.) He had to have his stomach pumped and it really scared the crud out of my mother. I’m sure the evil ingenuity of my brother doesn’t happen every day … but still, something to consider!

  • Rachael

    January 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Oooh the cleaning products in one of the little cupboards over a sink made me wince, because I instantly visualized reaching in there and getting Windex in my eye or something. It would happen to me if it as at all possible, trust me!

    (Also I’m dealing with becoming a child care home provider, and chemicals + over a food prep area = bad).

    But I can definitely vouch for the magnetic locks someone else mentioned! YES! Mine are amazing NO DRILL ones. AMAZING. By KidCo. Did I mention they’re AMAZING!?

  • Hannah

    January 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    There are lots and lots of plastic doohickeys out there to protect your baby, but the best babyproofing is common sense. Medicines and cleaners up high, obviously breakable and irreplaceable knick-knacks, ditto.

    Nothing replaces your attention, and teaching your little one to avoid risk. Remember, you can’t babyproof the whole world… far better to teach your baby how to behave in a safe manner in all kinds of environments.

  • pogita

    January 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    We did some basic baby proofing, but what I really want to share is my in-law’s idea of baby proofing. They called us before our first visit to the “farm” to tell us that they had very carefully baby-proofed the house and yard. When we arrived there was an open bottle of varnish on the front porch. We opened the door to find the very steep stairs to the basement ungated with a chainsaw (!!!) balanced on the top step. All the outlets had covers including the one that had the drywall removed all around it so that if one wanted, one could just reach into the wall and touch the bare wires. I wonder what the house was like before baby-proofing. Needless to say the little man was VERY well-supervised during our visit…..

  • Karen

    January 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I have nothing to add except that I’m so excited about how common sense these responses are. My neighbor is a “bubble wrap your child” sort of person and she commented to me the other day that I seem so “relaxed” with my daughter and it was the most AWESOME compliment. But, I did put a toilet lock on the throne. I’m just not interested in fishing toys out. 🙂 And here’s another one – I didn’t put locks on my drawers and the other day my daughter came walking out of the bathroom clutching several tampons and panty liners. AWESOME!!

  • J

    January 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    this reminded me of a question that was posted not too long ago about a woman not wanting to bring her children to her mother’s because it wasn’t childproofed. my only 2cents is ask your parents what they did for you when you were a child. we were all raised in a time that didn’t have 90% of the childproof gear that’s out now, and yet we all made it to adulthood.

  • HereWeGoAJen

    January 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I did baby proofing as you go. Whenever she got into something, I proofed that something. Of course, you have to be super vigilant for a few weeks while you see what they are going to get into, but that way I didn’t miss anything.

  • JCF

    January 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the ideas! I’ll have to check out those magnetic cabinet locks. In our experience, it depends so much upon the layout of the house and the child in question. In our current apartment, we ONLY have lower cabinets in the kitchen, so we gated off the kitchen, since that works for our particular kitchen shape. We are about to move, and we won’t be able to gate off the kitchen in the new place (kitchen isn’t really a separate room, but open to the whole main living area).

    Also, we didn’t have to childproof much when we just had one kid, because we could keep an eye on him so well. Once we had two mobile kids, things changed. One person can’t possibly keep track of two running kid all the time, so we had to babyproof.

    One thing I will stress though is to anchor heavy furniture to the walls. We had it done in the last place we lived, and had yet to do it when we first moved here. One morning, my son managed to pull the dresser in his room over. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, but I still can get sick to my stomach thinking about what COULD have been.

  • Jasmine

    January 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Not babyproofing per se but here’s an anecdote – my friend once mentioned that when he was a small toddler he kept knocking his head into things, so his parents made him wear a cap at all times so the visor takes most of the impact…

  • Courtney

    January 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    We did some basic babyproofing, too. We have cabinet locks on the bathroom cabinet and the cabinet under the kitchen sink, where the cleaners and whatnot are. We do have a toilet lock, because our son J liked to stick his hands in the bowl and splash them around. We got these non-ugly corner protectors from Rhoost: We also have a rubber band holding some kitchen cabinets together, but only because we don’t want J pulling out our pots and pans all the time. Oh, and outlet covers.

    Otherwise we watch him and direct him, and he’s really learned quickly. J will actually come over and point out when we’ve left the toilet seat open or left the remotes on the coffee table (we don’t like him to mess with them).

  • Julie

    January 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    1) Toilet lock on the downstairs toilet, since that’s the one that gets left open when not in use so company can see if it’s occupied, and because downstairs is the area where the least-supervised play happens. Upstairs I just close the doors to the bathrooms if I’m leaving him on his own. The whole thing is more about not finding a full roll of toilet paper stuffed into the toilet than about concerns for his safety at this point though.

    2) Gates at the top and bottom of our one stairway. Top of the stairs is wall mounted latching gate, and is getting a lot of use now that he’s sleeping in a big kid bed – I close it whenever he’s sleeping to keep him from stumbling down the stairs half asleep. (I usually leave his bedroom door ajar so I can hear him when he gets up.) Pressure mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs that we used until he was fairly reliable on the stairs.

    3) Outlet covers in all of the easily accessible outlets. Which I try to keep installed at all times, but our friends who visit with their laptops are horrible about putting back.

    4) Latches on a few key cabinets in the kitchen – mainly under the sink to keep him out of the trash and soaps, and the lazy susan that has the glass jars. Other than that, I just rearranged drawers to keep the more dangerous stuff out of reach. I liked these because they were really sturdy (haven’t broken one yet) and not too fiddly to install – the metal end just loops around a screw, so you don’t have to worry about getting them lined up exactly when you drill the holes, you can easily put the screw further in or out as needed.

    Others things to consider – I have been very thankful that our stove has the knobs above the stove instead of on the front. If you have front knobs, you may consider removing them when not in use, or getting covers for them. My little boy is fascinated with fiddling with the washer, so if I didn’t have a door that closes to the laundry room I’d have to figure out how to baby-proof that, as much to keep my laundry from being switched from cold to hot water in the middle of a cycle as anything else.

    Other than that I go for a common sense approach – bumps, bruises, etc are part of childhood. Cuts, burns, poisoning or drowning hazards I take much more seriously.

  • Amanda (ak)

    January 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    We had almost this exact same approach.  We bought outlet covers which has proven to be a wise decision.  We also purchased the cabinet locks, all of which broke immediately–they were the magnetic/plastic kind.  We rubber banded our lower cabinets in the kitchen and that has worked fine.  We have a two story house and have thus far only put a gate at the top of the stairs–a retractable one.  And like you, there was a lot of NO NO NO but he got the point.  My son is now 2.5ish and I think all of that was sufficient.  

  • J

    January 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Heads up — those puzzle mats are not safe! They contain formamides. Belgium have already banned them, with more countries to follow.

    A lot of babies love to chew on them too which..ugh. Better just to throw them out, in my opinion.

    … And yeah, I agree, baby proofing really does depend on the kid. My son crawled right up to those plastic outlet covers as I was putting them on (he was 10 months) and pulled them right out — they were regular Safety 1st ones from B R US. He learned how to open ”child safe” pill bottles when he was 12 months, turning me gray when a bunch of Advil suddenly spilled out over the floor, yet cabinet locks have totally thwarted him 🙂

  • Dani

    January 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    We really went the common sense route. We secured tall shelves because we do have a climber and put in outlet covers. That’s really about it. I rearranged the kitchen so that the only thing they can get into is tupperware and pots. I try to keep the door shut to the bathrooms and we keep the medicine in a high cabinet in our master bath.
    Our old house had four sets of stairs with various landings and doorways so we pretty much skipped gates on the stairs. We were very careful with both the kids. Taught them to go down the steps on their bellies and as a result, I really never worried about them on the steps. I just monitered and corrected them as needed.

  • Jessie

    January 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    We went pretty basic: cabinet locks in the kitchen where there are knives and glass dishes and bathroom cabinets and outlet covers. The only baby gate we had was for our guest bathroom door, to keep our toddler out of the cats litter and the animals food when he was a crawler and sticking everything in his mouth. We put toilet latches on, but it was more for the safety of our electronics then anything else (he threw in a remote, a wireless laptop mouse and an xbox controller within a 3 day period). We got a lockbox to put our medicines in, there were some really scary things that happened to people we know that made us realise that a medicine cabinet or child proofed cabinet latch is not enough. It may sound a bit extreme, but I am not willing to risk it. We each have a key on our key ring for it, and keep it locked under sink as an added precaution.

  • Becky

    January 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I’d really like to emphasize the importance of securing furniture to the walls. We’ve got a climber, and walked into her room one day to find her standing in the middle of her top dresser drawer. It would have tipped over if not secured to the stud in the wall. Other than that we’ve gone for the outlet covers that twist to use, and moved everything hazardous up out of reach.

  • Ginger

    January 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    My son pulled the outlet covers out within seconds of them going in–so we ended up using furniture to cover most of the outlets and plating over the remaining few. We have a gate at the top of the stairs (our living room is upstairs), and into the dining room/kitchen. Two key things for us have been securing the flatscreen tv to the entertainment center, and that to the wall (we have a climber and a shaker–he loves to rattle stuff) & I found these great little inserts for doors that keep him from closing his fingers in the hinge side–which he did approximately 9 times before we found these things. Other than that? We watch him, and try to move stuff we really don’t want him to get his hands on.

  • lesliele

    January 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Just wanted to mention that you can use pipe insulation and string to babyproof the edges of things… and it doesn’t leave the sticky residue. And it’s only $1.29 for a big looooooooooong piece. 🙂 Very easy!

  • kari Weber

    January 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    In addition to some of the things already mentioned (we didn’t do too much baby proofing either) One easy thing I did to keep kids from closing the doors on their fingers, or latching or locking the door on accident… throw a hand towel over the top of the door, near the hinge.  Not a kitchen towel, but a bathroom hand towel… nice and fluffy.  Not only can the kid not close the door all the way, but it is easy to remove when you DO want to close the door… and it is free!

  • Stephanie

    January 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I can’t believe that no one has mentioned sliding door outlet covers. These things are the bomb!! We used those lame plugs that we couldn’t get out (and kept breaking nails) but of course the kids could pluck them out no problem. These are obviously more expensive than little plastic plugs, but kids can’t figure out how to get hurt, you have open access to use them freely (without breaking nails or moving furniture) and they are not totally ugly like some childproofing solutions.

  • aps

    January 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    My husband built a beautiful mounted gate for  for our wide stairs for $62. He used oak bannister railing, oak dowels and a latch and hinges that were meant for an outside gate for a fenced yard. It’s really convenient to open and close and the baby can’t reach the latch to open it. We moved the garbage can into the pantry, the dog food and water into the garage. We switched to non toxic cleansers and that’s pretty much it.

  • wallydraigle

    January 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I had the same experience with cabinet locks. Safety First, I shake my fist at you!!!

    The worst part is that I didn’t have a drill at the time, so I did it all with a screwdriver and a bunch of pointy screws.

    I have made no other attempts at babyproofing, other than to move things that could maim or kill onto high, high shelves, preferably out of reach. The bonus is that it gives me peace of mind when we go other places. My kids live in a home where they have to be careful about certain stuff, and where they can’t touch or play with certain things. So when we go to non-baby-friendly places, they do pretty well. The toddler is a complete rule-follower, but I think the baby (now an early toddler, actually) will give us a run for our money. Still, I imagine outings would be a lot more stressful if our kids weren’t accustomed to being told “no” and being redirected all the time.

  • wallydraigle

    January 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Whoops. That was supposed to say, “out of sight,” not, “out of reach.”

    Also! Who decided it was a great idea to plug up electrocution hazards with choking hazards. We must have really loose sockets or something because our outlet covers come out if you just look at them hard enough. Thankfully, neither child has any interest whatsoever in the plugs, so for now I’m just keeping a very close eye on the baby. If she starts eying them up, I’ll buy some of the fancy ones that require extra work and more ambitious parenting than I currently practice.

  • Jasmine Baby Lamp

    January 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    […] The Common-Sense Approach to Baby-Proofing | Alphamom . at the top and bottom of the stairs; (5) a plastic sliding latch through the handles of the bottom of our china cabinet; (6) and in the nursery, we have a rectangular plastic cover over the power strip for the lamp monitor, etc. Jasmine Jan 24 at 09:44 pm Reply. Not babyproofing per se but here's an anecdote – my friend once mentioned that when he was a small toddler he kept knocking his head into things, so his parents made him wear a cap at all times so the . […]

  • Megan

    January 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Our approach to babyproofing is pretty similar – not a lot of gadgetry. However, I second, third and fourth the warning to keep a spare key outside every door! We didn’t realize that our son had figured out how to latch the deadbolt on our backdoor, until this weekend when I ran outside for a second to throw something in the recycling bin (also it was 10 degrees). I went to run back in, and found the door locked. And my son standing there looking at me, all proud of himself. Fortunately, my husband was in the house and came when I knocked, but it could have been bad for both of us.

    Also – the hot water bath indicator things don’t work that well. We have a couple ducks that contain such indicators, and they pretty much say hot all the time now, after months of use and a trip to the tropics. Trust me, our house is not a dangerous temperature…

  • Tara

    January 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    We basically took the same approach as Amy and so far, so good. But my question to all you experienced mamas is when does all the “hot” and “dangerous” and “no, no”-ing start to click? I’ve got a 13 month old (who has been walking since 9.5 months, sigh) and while I’m sure we’ve still got a long way to go, I’d like to set my sights on an approximate goal! Right now, he just looks at me and continues heading right for whatever semi-dangerous thing he’s about to grab.

  • Lesley

    January 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    The only room we’ve gone all out in is his bedroom. Furniture bolted to the wall and every drawer has a clasp (plastic and on with adhesive) because I can SO EASILY picture Eli using open drawers as a climbing apparatus.

  • Julie Greene

    January 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    We experienced something similar to the ‘stocking + super heavy stocking holder’ falling down when my 3yo barely touched his stocking. I bought a 4pk of simple hooks from Bed, Bath & Beyond that slide over the edge of the mantel. It gave me a lot more room for displaying Christmas decorations (that’s the only spot in the house safe for breakables) and they hold a lot more weight. Well worth the $20!

  • Wallydraigle

    January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    @Tara: My approach is to let them hurt themselves, so long as it isn’t going to be a traumatic injury. I’ve said, ‘Don’t touch; hot!” to my kids as they reached for a hot dish (uncomfortably warm to me, so not actually capable of real burning), and then let them touch it. Natural consequences seem to have a more profound impact on them than anything I say or do. I let them touch the hot dish so that when they go for something truly dangerous, and I say, “Don’t touch; hot!” they’ll believe me and stay away.

  • Aweik

    January 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    We ended up gating off the living and dining room and babyproofing that area, then the kids had a safe place to play, it kept them away from the stairs and kitchen, and I didn’t have to watch them like a hawk when they were in there. I also babyproofed their rooms. Babyproofing consisted of outlet covers – the ones that cover up things that are plugged into the outlets were a lifesaver, my girls looooooved to pull cords out! – foam around the coffee table’s sharp metal edges, and plastic thingies that kept their dresser drawers from opening. By the time they could open their drawers/reach the doorknobs/open the gates they were old enough to know how to navigate the stairs/not climb up dressers/not chin up on the oven door.

    I agree with the previous poster that mentioned that the geography of the home has a lot to do with how you babyproof – our living and dining room make up about half of our downstairs so the kids have a large area in which to play safely. This might not work for everyone.

  • Susan

    January 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    We did the outlet covers (the obnoxious kind that you have to use two hands to get out – they aren’t goin’ anywhere!), pipe insulation on our tiled hearth edge, a baby gate to contain the child in the kitchen/tv room, and a toilet lock (like a previous poster, for the safety of our cell phones, cameras and remote controls). We also got a couple covers for outlets where plugs stay plugged in and one for the power strip for the TV/DVD/Directv box. The one thing we added that hasn’t been mentioned are door knob covers – we have them on our hall closets (one has cleaning supplies up high and the other has medicine up high), the hall bathroom, and on the inside of our toddler’s bedroom door, so he can’t get out and roam the house at night.

    We moved the cat food and litter boxes into the laundry room (we have a big laundry room so they’re not right next to each other) and DH cut a hole in the door so the cats could get in but not the toddler.

  • Damaris @Kitchen Corners

    February 1, 2011 at 2:21 am

    How timely. I just uploaded a video of my baby girl proving that our kitchen is not baby proof. I swear, she can figure it out so fast. Sometimes I think it’s a waste of money.

  • Jeff

    March 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    We tried the pipe insulation, BUT he loved to chew on it while he was teething and after a bit noticed small chunks missing. Thankfully nothing happened, but if he had been able to rip a bigger piece off, then it could have been a really bad choking hazard. So, the pipe insulation is gone.

  • Lisa

    October 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I’m pretty low-key about se things with my kid, and he is 16 months and I haven’t child proofed a thing:) I am going to get the drawer and cabinet locks now though because I’m REEEEALLLY sick of constantly cleaning up every thing he is quickly pulling out. I’m sick of it, did I mention that? Anyway, bought the plastic ones, didn’t know I had to screw them in. I’ll be returning them and getting the magnetic ones. Also, our house came with a wooden slat that separates the living room from the kitchen- previous owner had it for her dog- really nice and u just slide the board down in between the slats and it stays:) I wish I had one for my bathroom so that when I’m trying to get ready he is not pulling out things from the sink cupboard and hanging on my legs. But cabinet locks should take care of that. The rest of the stuff- I moved a coffee table to garage for a while and keep doors shut and try to watch him

  • […] are good observers and use common sense. Every parent out there needs to remember that part of safety involves modeling safe living skills and patiently teaching the little ones in our care those […]

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