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Childproofing – Thoughts, Tips and Some of the Best Products

#childproofing via @chgdiapers

Post contains affiliate links – I was not asked to write nor was I compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I’m no childproofing expert. I have, however, childproofed (that word is a minsomer, LOL) for 3 children in 4 houses, including a rental and temporary situation. I’ve tried loads of products as things have changed and new things have come on the market, and I have favorites!

There are differing opinions on childproofing. Don’t childproof, they should listen to what you say not to touch, wait & see and childproof as needed, or “childproof all teh thingz!” I am somewhat middle of the road. My mother-in-law told me that when she had her first child, she didn’t childproof a thing. She said “don’t touch the breakable things” and that was that. Then she had a second child & he was into everything! In my experience, kids are quick. Even when you have just one child and are watching them at all times, they are sneaky and a moment is all they need! When they are supposed to be napping, or when you step into the bathroom for 15 seconds, that is all it takes. Childproofing clearly doesn’t replace supervision, but when you have 2, 3 or more children, you need a backup plan!

Cabinets – You want to make sure that your cabinets with cleaning products etc. are inaccessible to your kiddos. Medicine should be kept up high and in a locked cabinet, in child resistant containers. You may also want to childproof any cabinets that contain things that are not dangerous, but messy (containers of flour anyone?) Keep in mind that some houdinis can slide their hands into the cracks and get things anyway (don’t ask me how I know this *cough*) Consider dedicating a cabinet or tote with some metal pans, spoons, plastic bowls, old measuring cups etc. your child can play with while you’re cooking.

Childproof cabinet locks via @chgdiapers 2
We have sliding cabinet locks in our laundry room that are OK. They aren’t horrible to open, but they get jammed at times, and will open if yanked hard enough. These did not work on the knobs in our rental; they popped right off.

Childproof cabinet locks via @chgdiapers 1
We have a few of the locks above, and they are OK as well. There was a learning curve to get them open but they are secure. They are not quick to open and close though, and it’s a pain to open, get what you need, close, open, put it back & close again.

These cabinet locks are what we have in our bathroom. They are OK. Not particularly easy nor difficult to open, but my kids can’t open them!

Childproof cabinet locks via @chgdiapers 3
We had some pretty decent locks installed in our old house, but you can’t always drill into cabinets. Above you can see that the cheapies we have now will either open, or break if yanked hard enough!

childproofing via @chgdiapers 3-4 childproofing via @chgdiapers 3-5
I had a very hard time with these Rhoost cabinet locks. I found them extremely difficult to open & close, and even over time, stretching them, and coming up with a method to put my thumb here, put my finger there, stretch etc., it is still very difficult for me.

One product I’ve never tried (didn’t fit in our budget) but looks very cool are the magnetic tot locks. They completely close the cabinet from your child’s access and you need a “key” to easily open them.

This looks like an easier cabinet lock than others we’ve used, but a similar concept. edit: Yep, these are my new favorites. I bought a 2-pack (silver/grey color) and they are my new favorite. Much easier to use. The “zip ties” adjust while it is unlatched, to properly fit your knobs/handles. Then to open you have to push the lock button area and a button at the bottom. Each side remains on the handle. Just make sure you leave enough slack to easily align the sides and push it closed. It’s a tiny bit flimsy feeling so we’ll see how it holds up.

Anchor your furniture: I bugged my husband to do this after reading about children dying from pulling furniture on themselves. I know I seem overprotective & annoying & he didn’t do it. We had a very close call that still gets me upset to think about. My son was in his bedroom while my husband was in the next room, and I was nursing our other son on the couch downstairs. I heard a huge crash and a scream and went sprinting up the stairs. My son had pulled all the drawers out of his dresser and it tipped over. Thank heavens the bottom drawers kept the whole thing from falling all the way over, but he got a bump on his head, and his fish tank slid off and made a huge mess (I saved the fish.) We came very close to losing our son that day. After that, I got prices to hire a childproofing company to come do it, and that was the motivation for him to get it done, hee-hee. He used sturdy “eyes” anchored into studs & solid parts of the furniture, with an industrial zip tie holding them together. He can put his entire weight on each piece of furniture and it doesn’t budge. I am still asking him to finish anchoring a few more pieces of furniture, including our TV stand. As much as he thinks there is no way for a child to pull it over on himself, I say better safe than sorry. You can also get kits to anchor furniture and to anchor TVs.

Gates: Baby gates are very useful for keeping your kiddos off the stairs and out of off-limits rooms (I elected to gate off our dining room rather than empty and/or anchor the China cabinet.) You can get pressure mounted gates or hard mounted gates (I think hard mounted are the best bet for the top of stairs), and walk over them or open them each time.

We had The First Years Everywhere Gate in our last house, and still use a few now. They are nice because you can see through them, they can’t be climbed, and they are easy to install temporarily. However, they do not close by themselves, and they are somewhat annoying to close properly each time, lining up the top and bottom with the wall mounts (when hard mounted.) The rubber ends were quickly chewed to bits, and if we leave one open, my kids mess with the adjustments and it drives me nutso, LOL. I didn’t install these, my husband did. I imagine they would probably be easier to use if installed using a level to make sure everything aligned properly.

The Summer Wood and Metal Walk-Thru Gate, Brown/Black was previously in our hallway but it’s now serving as a barrier we never open. It was nearly impossible to adjust it so that it would close properly and open fairly easily, close by itself, but still be secure. Many times, but husband and I “opened” it as we walked through, only to have it not open and instead come crashing down under us. I did a number on my foot/ankle while trying not to drop my infant son as I fell on my face once (and that’s when we finally decided to take it down!) It does look a lot nicer than other gates though.

dreambaby gate

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Dreambaby gates. We have one at the bottom of our stairs, and one in a doorway. With a couple minutes and a level, you can install them so that they close (by themselves) every time, and are easy for adults to open. They are pressure mounted, but have “cups” that stick with super sticky adhesive, to keep it in place and prevent it from shifting or being knocked over. I’ll definitely need to do a bit of sanding/painting when I take them down, but I don’t have to worry about drilling holes in trim and balusters! They are a bit more expensive but are sturdy, high quality and totally worth it. The company also sells extensions, and you can use one on each side of the gate to fill even the largest openings. I installed two of these myself in a few minutes, with 2 kidlets hanging all over me while I did it. You do have to read the instructions first. (not naming any names here or making any gender generalizations but, ya know.)

Outlets:


In our last house, we had these clear outlet covers in most electrical outlets. They were very difficult to get out, which is great to keep kids safe, but annoying for adults.

Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 2
The ones above were a bit easier to remove and we have them on outlets we don’t use often.

safe plates

Now, we have many safe plates, which easily install in place of your old electrical plates.

Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 4 Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 5 Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 6
You have to put the plug in, then slide to the side; easy for adults, not for kids. We had a similar version in our old house, which twisted vs. sliding, and they were tough to get just tight enough that they would slide back closed, but not pop the appliance out, but also wouldn’t stay open after removal. I love the safe plates because there is no danger if your child yanks out something you keep plugged in (like lamps.)

childproofing via @chgdiapers 2-2 childproofing via @chgdiapers 3-2
Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 3
Rhoost outlet covers are attractive, and look very unobtrusive, but they were too easy for my little ones to remove.

These childproofing kits contained the junky cabinet latches I mentioned above, as well as outlet covers that my 1 year old can remove. I bought them at our local home improvement store because they seemed like a good deal but, yeah…not so much.

Childproof outlet covers via @chgdiapers 1
Doors: We tried using the doorknob covers in the kit above when we were renting. Our daughter just yanked them right off. I suppose you could super glue the two pieces together if you needed to!

We have lever door locks on a few doors, but it didn’t take our little one long to learn that you could just yank really hard to open them. We removed & re-installed them upside down so you have to lift the lever, which he can’t do! Our little guy climbs anything and everything, and can unlock deadbolts, and be outside before you can flush the toilet. Double keyed deadbolts scare me because of the risk during a fire, but I’m very curious about the deadbolt locks below:

Speaking of climbing: Be aware that industrious little ones will climb anything and everything, including potties and toy baskets! We currently have no chairs in our kitchen for this reason. 😉 The childproofing company I looked up even offered an option to lash the chairs to a table!

Fire: This is slightly off topic, but make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home, as well as C02 dectectors if applicable. Ideally you’ll have one on each floor and one in each bedroom. Check them regularly, and change the batteries when you change your clocks. Make certain you have fire extinguishers as well as safety ladders if you live in a multi-story home. Check your home for fire hazards such as making sure your gas grill’s propane tank is twisted to “off” and that there is nothing near baseboard heaters.

Cooking safety: Always turn pan handles away from the edge of the stove, and don’t turn your back for a minute while you are cooking. You can also get knob covers for your stove.

Edges/corners: You can get foam cushions to cover sharp edges and corners of furniture. Rhoost makes some that are elastic & do not need to be applied with adhesive. My children would never leave these alone; our mud room bench has the “stick” on each corner and the bumpers are nowhere to be found.

Pinched fingers: There are many guards available to prevent your children from pinching their fingers in doors, including bifold closet doors. Many aren’t terribly convenient for doors that are opened/closed often.

Miscellaneous: Children can drown in very little water. Make sure that sinks, tubs and buckets are not left with water, and restrict access to toilets. This can be easier said than done when you have littles that need quick access to the potty! Keep your car doors locked and keep the windows up. Be aware of blind cords (there are many products available to wind up excess blind cords) and know that children will climb furniture to get to them.

Everything else: The world is a terrifying place for mamas! You simply can’t forsee everything. My oldest child was 21 months old, spinning & singing “ring around the rosy” when she stumbled, taking a nosedive right towards our bed, from the middle of an 8-10 foot open area. She bonked her chin on the metal bed frame, through the overhanging comforter and bed skirt, and ended up needing stitches. (I even have a video of it happening because I was recording her cute song & dance.) Who would have thought of that happening? Someone in my family actually made me feel guilty that this happened, but who in the world would think to “childproof” that?

Have you discovered any childproofing duds or winners?


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
8 Comments
  • November 14, 2014 at 10:51 pm
    Reply

    […] You may also like to read my tips on childproofing. […]

  • Megan Heald
    December 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm
    Reply

    We just had a stitches from the metal bed frame incident at our house. What did you do to child proof this?!?!

    • December 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm
      Reply

      The only thing I could think of would be to put foam with sticky tape (like the cushion guards for tables) on it. It was kind of one in a million, I’ve never heard of it happening to anyone else until your comment!

  • Keshala
    November 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm
    Reply

    Thank you, I am a newbie to all this and even though my baby isn’t anywhere close to the stage where we need to baby proofing it is something that preoccupies my mind. It was nice to have a once stop read on all the products on the market. I was just wondering, we are in a rented place and we aren’t familiar with the American system as we are from Australia but can you drill into walls to secure furniture? If not what is the best way to do it? We also have a french door that opens into our bedroom and I don’t know the best way to cordon off that area as there is one electric plate is sticking out of the wall and really needs repairing. I need a bit of help on these and was wondering if there is anyone else that had a similar situation?

    • November 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm
      Reply

      Hi Keshala, check your lease, or with your landlord/property management company to see if they will allow you to drill into walls. Most should be OK with it as you can just patch it up the same as you would a picture hanger, wall shelf anchors etc. Make sure you use a “stud finder” to drill into the wood 2x4s rather than just the drywall.

      The Dreambaby gates can fit even super wide areas with the extensions. Perhaps you could install a gate in the door jamb?

  • Sarah
    October 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm
    Reply

    We had the magnetic tot locks in our old house with first daughter. Loved them in that there was no way for her (or the dogs) to open the cabinets. You could leave them in and switch the inside so they they stayed open too. But, finding the magnetic spot could be tricky.

    We had the knob covers on our gas stove there but the dogs chewed them off!

  • Melissa
    October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm
    Reply

    I *really* like the Safety 1st ProGrade cabinet (press n pivot) and toilet locks. They are excellent quality, well thought out, easy to install and use. Apart from those baby proofing items, we covered outlets (combination of clear plugs and slider plates) and strapped our TV to its stand. Our son’s dresser has a built in safety feature that only one large drawer on each side can be open at a time. It isn’t perfect but it helps.

    The cheapest way to baby-proof a stove top is to REMOVE the knobs entirely. We keep ours in an adjacent drawer. Our 2yo knows in theory how to put them on but doesn’t understand that they have to be aligned and is not close to that stage, but we might move them anyway.

  • October 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm
    Reply

    Our kitchen cabinets have knobs instead of actual handles, which makes it super hard to find a thing to childproof them with. What has worked best is a simple hair tie wrapped around each knob 😉 My toddler has yet to figure out how to undo it (you can loop them around multiple times to get them tight!) and I’m sure lots of kids would figure it out or just break it to get in, but so far my kids have been deterred! Also, if your doorknobs are levers, there really aren’t any non-permanent childproofing solution. The Door Monkey (http://www.amazon.com/Childproof-Door-Lock-Pinch-Guard/dp/B004ECJWK4 – not an affiliate link or anything!) is AWESOME! The only issue is that the door stays slightly open, so if you’re looking for privacy or something, then this won’t work for that. But if you want a way to make sure your toddler can’t escape his room in the middle of the night, it’s super easy to use and remove (I take when we travel to my parent’s house, because I don’t want my son to get out and fall down the stars at night. I just take it off the door when I need to change clothes or something, and then put it back when it’s bed time!) It’s also great for keeping pets in certain rooms, since the crack in the door allows for air flow 🙂 At my parent’s house it’s also great for keeping the cats OUT of rooms (my little brothers used to hang from the door handles when they were little, and now none of the doors latch properly! The cats have figured out they can just push a door to open it, and will go play in my luggage. I don’t like cat hair on my stuff!) 😉

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