Whether you’ve got a little one on the way or your once immobile babe is now rolling, crawling, or taking her first steps, there’s no wrong time to start childproofing.
The important thing is that you’re thorough about it.
A modern home presents tons of hazards for little kids — especially ones looking to explore and discover the big world around them.
Are you about to hop on the childproofing train? Here are 8 areas you’ll want to cover
Stairs and off-limits areas.
If you’ve got stairs — going up or down — then you’ll want to block those off with a baby gate. The permanently affixed ones are usually best here, as they can’t be knocked over by a dog or willful toddler, but if you’re renting and can’t ding up your wall too much, a temporary one will work too. You might want to add an extra safeguard just in case though.
Ovens and appliances.
Any appliances within reach will also need to be childproofed. On ovens, you can use oven locks, which use either a sliding mechanism or button to secure the oven door. You’ll also need covers for any temperature dials or control knobs that are exposed. If your dishwasher, fridge, or trash compactor is accessible, you’ll also need locks for these as well.
Doorknob covers are a must when your child is little — especially on doors that lead outside or into dangerous areas like bathrooms, basements, or utility rooms. You might also consider them on pantries and closets where food and trash cans are stored.
As soon as your little one is even slightly mobile, it’s time to cover up those electrical outlets — particularly ones that are floor-level. There are a number of different inserts you can use to cover up open outlets or, in the event the outlet is rarely used, you can also install a full plate to cover the holes entirely. These just require a few screws and can be removed easily anytime.
Corners and edges
If you’ve got furniture with sharp edges or corners, these areas will need to be covered as well. For corners, consider a stick-on foam corner guard. On longer areas, there are foam bumpers you can purchase that can be cut to size. Make sure you tend to any tables, chairs, media consoles, shelves, and anything else that your child may come in contact with when crawling, pulling up or learning to walk. The more coverage, the better.
Drawers and cabinets.
Your next step is to childproof any drawers or cabinets your child may be able to get into. At first, this might mean lower kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and drawers on coffee tables and media centers. As they get taller and more agile on their feet, you’ll want to get those higher-up drawers, too — especially ones where scissors, knives, and other tools might be located. Take extra care to close off any cabinets with cleaning supplies or chemicals — no matter how out of reach they might seem today. For drawers and cabinets, latches and sliding locks work well.
Pools and yards
If you’ve got a pool, you’ll need a fully enclosed gate or fence around it, including any hot tubs or spas that might be attached. You’ll also want to ensure your yard is fully fenced and gated. If you have hazardous plants or trees your little one might be tempted by, consider gating those off as well.
Cords, plugs, and blind strings
These are commonly overlooked areas, but they pose a real temptation for curious little ones. Long plugs and cords should be tucked away behind furniture where prying hands can’t reach, while long blind strings and curtain tassels should be removed or tied high off the ground. These pose a strangulation hazard and are extremely dangerous to little ones.
Hardware stores and even general stores like Walmart and Target typically have all kinds of options for childproofing your home. When in doubt, try the housewares or baby sections.
Pro Tips for Childproofing
Your best bet when childproofing is to think like your little one. Get on your hands and knees and scope out what items are eye level. What can they reach, open, or touch?
Keep in mind that children grow extremely fast (at a time when you’re not sleeping much), so childproofing ahead of time is usually best. If there’s something you see that your kid may reach in 6 months to a year, go ahead and childproof it. Chances are, they’ll surpass your expectations and find a way into it much sooner than you think!
Finally, check and re-check. Have your spouse or a loved one survey the situation. Have you covered all your bases? Are all potential hazards hidden away or removed? This is one case where it’s always better to be safe than sorry.