Safety First!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  June 6, 2012 — 3 Comments

Nick and I have been working little by little over the past few weeks to address some nagging safety issues in the nursery. I’m not typically the type of person to stress about this sort of thing a whole lot. I regularly open boxes improperly, walk barefoot outside, and precariously perch upon furniture to acquire things out of my reach. I’m really living on the edge over here.

Of course the responsibility of keeping a new little person alive and well has me paying a bit more attention to safety these days. I use a stepladder now. And I started noticing safety hazards left and right in the nursery. So I talked Nick into making a little trip with me to Lowe’s to gather supplies.

Safety hazard #1: the crib. The dangers here are numerous. It’s practically a minefield of infant disaster.

Problem numero uno is the cats. They think we got the crib for them. Sorry to burst your bubbles, Sheila and Pistachio, but cribs are for baby humans, not adorable cats.

I intentionally let them have open access to the crib for the first few weeks it was set up because I have learned the hard way that cats are a lot like teenagers. If you tell them to stay away from something they only want to explore it more, so I decided to let them thoroughly investigate the crib before taking any action. Now the time has come to kick them out and I’ve got a simple solution: tin foil. Cats hate the way it feels and sounds when they step on it, so it’s an easy way to train them to stay away. The foil’s been in there a week now and neither cat has gone anywhere near it. After another week or so I’ll take it out, wash the sheets, and wait a few days to see if any evidence of cat-napping appears. If this fails I’ll move onto a combination tin foil + spray bottle + crazy pregnant lady yelling at cats approach.

Problem numero dos with the crib is this electrical outlet. The cover has been missing for a long time. I think it fell off one day when I was using this room as an office and I never got around to putting it back on and it just sort of disappeared. No matter, because I’d be wanting to cover the actual outlet holes anyway.

You may have noticed in the very first picture above that one of the things Nick and I bought on our big supplies-gathering trip was a flat outlet cover. We realized when we tried to install it, though, that in order for it to fit properly we needed to actually remove the socket, requiring some electrical work that we were just not really up for. So I ordered one of these from Amazon instead. It was under $5, arrived quickly, and was a breeze to install.

It’s pretty hard for me to slide the socket cover over with my fingers, so I feel confident that even big strong someday-toddler Jack won’t be able to get the holes exposed and still have a free hand to stick anything in there. See how it works, though? You slide the cover over to plug something in, then as soon as you remove it the cover snaps back to the left. Of course, we won’t have anything plugged in there for now, since it’s practically in his crib, but it’s nice to know that the outlet will still be there if we rearrange the room someday.

Problem numero tres with the crib, which I mentioned in this post: it’s not level.

It’s common in houses as old as ours for the floors to slope, sometimes significantly. I didn’t want my little guy to be constantly sleeping on an incline, though, so I grabbed this perfectly-sized piece of wood from our supply closet and stuck it under the two lowest legs.

Now the crib was perfectly level, but I was totally not digging the geeky pale wood that was not at all hidden by my crib skirt.

It was an easy solution, though. I used some wood stain I already had on hand (Minwax’s Dark Walnut) to darken it up a bit, making it much more able to blend into the floor/skirt/darkness beneath the crib.

See? Hardly noticeable from above. Unlike the tin foil, which would probably draw some questions from those not in-the-know about feline warfare.

With all the crib issues addressed, it was time to move on to safety hazard #2: the dresser. We’ve got a changing pad on it now so it can double as a changing table.

It actually has straps that you’re supposed to buckle over the baby, but I see those being more cat toy than safety feature for now. I’m sure they’ll come in handy when I’ve got a wriggly two year old on my hands but I’m pretty sure a newborn is not going to roll over those sloped sides. Besides, aren’t you supposed to never leave baby unattended anyway? I just tucked the straps underneath and out of the way for now.

Even though the grippy surface on the bottom of the changing pad has me pretty convinced it’s not going anywhere, I decided it couldn’t hurt to put this next safety feature to use: a strap that attaches to the back of the dresser to keep the pad from falling off.

I just had Nick put a screw through the hole into the solid wood dresser top and ta-da, mission accomplished. That was easy enough.

While we were addressing dresser issues I also had Nick coat all the drawer slides with a thin layer of vaseline. They used to stick so stubbornly that it would sometimes take both hands and pulling from various angles just to get a drawer open. Not ideal when you’re trying to change/dress a baby lying atop the dresser you’re tugging on so violently. Now the drawers slide easily in and out with just one hand. Much better.

Safety hazard #3: there are two doors into this room, and neither one latches properly. Imagine me working on some craft or DIY project in here. I finally get fed up with my animal entourage traipsing all over my stuff and beg Nick to get them out. He ushers them all into the living room and I’ve finally got a pet-free space to work when BAM one firm push of the paw and they’re all back in full force. So annoying. It was obviously not annoying enough for me to ever do anything about it, though, until I realized that a perfectly good naptime could be ruined by a curious cat or devoted dachshund. I decided quickly that the dated doorknobs must be the culprit and picked out two new ones for Nick to install.

The latching problem wasn’t solved by the new doorknobs, though. After a few days of thinking on it and a bit of googling I realized that the strike plates had been incorrectly installed by the previous owners. I drilled new holes to move the strike plates up to meet the latch, and in the case of this door even used my drill to chisel out a bit of wood at the top of the hole in the doorjamb. Fixing the indentation that the strike plate sits in was a little beyond my skill level, though, so it’s a little wonky. Okay with me because now when I shut the door it stays closed and in a house with three pets that is golden.

Safety hazard #4 was not so much a hazard as a list of things that could be improved. That bisque-colored outlet cover was totally making my eye twitch, so it had to go. Also, we’ve got gas cooking and heat but no carbon monoxide detectors in the house. Since tiny lungs are particularly sensitive to this sort of thing we decided the nursery was as good a place as any for a CO detector. Note that there’s already a smoke alarm in here. We tested it since it was here when we bought the place and it seems to be in good working order.

Since CO doesn’t rise like smoke, we installed the detector just above my eye level in an inconspicuous spot to the side of the fireplace. If you actually use your fireplace they say you shouldn’t install your detector this close, I guess because it would lead to false alarms, but since our fireplaces are coal-burning and we never ever use them it seemed fine to me. I also switched out the outlet cover, but not the socket itself, I’m too lazy for that, and added a nightlight that I can turn on if needed.

We put another nightlight with an on/off switch near the crib and this continuous-on light behind the rocking chair. I figure this way I can get through diaper changes and nighttime feedings in the dark and even turn on the two extra nightlights for a little extra illumination without the eye-opening glow of a lamp or the overhead light.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling safer already with all these little projects knocked out of the way. My wonderful friends threw me a baby shower this weekend and we got two more pieces of safety gear: a sound monitor and a crib movement monitor that detects whether baby has stopped breathing (thanks, Lauren and Cassie!) so we’ll be getting those set up over the next week or two, as well. All the while I’m washing and organizing teeny tiny clothes, blankets, and other various paraphernalia. Can you believe that my due date is a month from today? I can hardly contain myself. Ever since I learned that babies born as early as 37 weeks are considered full-term I’ve been hoping that maybe he’ll be ready to come out and meet the world a little sooner than expected. I’m certainly ready psychologically! Logistically, not so much, but you know. That’s only because I’m a little neurotic about wanting to have everything organized.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


3 responses to Safety First!

  1. I’m so excited for you…! You’re going to make such a great mom. :) (p.s. I love your blog.. keep the posts coming!!!)

  2. Wow!!! Only a month!! You are doing a great job checking everything out and making things as safe as possible.

  3. Great post – you are so clever and I love the way you write!

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