Creative Babyproofing

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  September 11, 2013 — 10 Comments

Let me just put this out there: Jack was a lot easier to deal with when he couldn’t move around. I could just plop him on a blanket, he’d sit there and play, life was good. Now he is so inquisitive and into everything and I feel like I’m on constant suicide watch. Saving him from himself is exhausting.

Alas, I just cannot bring myself to surrender quietly to turning my home into a totally babyfied environment. Grownups still live here and, actually, we pay the bills, so the place should be attractive and functional for us as well. Necessity + limitations breed creativity and I’ve spent the last several months coming up with creative ways to make our home safe and comfortable for all ages. Exhibit A: cords. Maybe all toddlers are into cords, maybe it’s just my kid, but it’s a problem. He wants to chew on them, wrap them around his neck, etc. I try to hide as many as I can behind furniture or whatever but the lamp and baby monitor in his room were really giving me a run for my money. I was so proud of myself when I came up with this solution. First, I stuck the monitor to the wall behind his crib with a command strip. He can’t reach it unless we move the crib and it can be easily removed and replaced to bring with us when we travel out of town. Next I used painter’s tape to secure the cords to the wall. Stay with me here.

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This is where the magic happens. I painted over the cords and tape with leftover paint from the walls. Jack’s no dummy and I’m sure he could spot these cords if he was really looking and of course he could go all toddler-hulk and rip them off the walls, but my suspicion that out of sight = out of mind seems to be holding true so far. Making the cords less obvious was all it took to make him forget about them.

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Next problem: old doors don’t close. Before Jack became so obsessed with toilets I used to lock him in the bathroom with me so I could shower. The only problem was that the door in our master bath not only doesn’t lock, but actually doesn’t even latch closed. So I installed a hook and screw eye on the door. I’ve since used this technique on several doors I needed to toddler-proof, like the closet where we store all of our tools and clutter. I have one on the tiny door to our attic as well but it’s within his reach and he’s figured it out.

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I’ve posted about this shelf before but it bears mentioning again. I put a big basket on the bottom shelf full of Jack’s toys and honestly he hasn’t messed with anything else on the shelf since, but just to be safe the second and third shelves are full of books (obviously unbreakable) and items stuck down with museum putty. I was so excited when I discovered this stuff. I use it to secure lamps, whatnots, etc. so that cats and babies can’t knock them down. Works like a charm.

babyproofed bookshelf

Last but not least, the baby gate. Ugh, I was so hoping to avoid them altogether but reality had other plans. Jack can and will scale those stairs at any available opportunity so they must be barricaded during all waking hours. I was happy to at least find one that was both inexpensive and on the attractive end of things. And it’s made of sustainable materials so I can pat myself on the back for that. (if you’re in the market for baby gates this is the one we own and love).

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Jack is also really into the dog’s food and water bowls. It took me weeks to figure out how to keep him away from them without blocking the dog as well, but finally I got the idea to just mount the baby gate a foot or so off the ground. Jack probably could crawl under but he doesn’t know it and I plan to keep it that way. I used to just block him out of the laundry room behind the kitchen (where we keep the dog bowls, cat litter box, etc.) but I recently started blocking him from the kitchen after he learned how to turn on the gas stove knobs and it’s a brave new world. It’s so much easier to cook without a toddler underfoot.

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I was talking to my friend Cassie the other night about how our babies have changed our lives and she repeated something she’d heard from someone else; to paraphrase: they’re not just an add-on. The entire landscape of our lives shifts to accommodate them. And for Nick and me negotiating the new normal in a post-Jack world has been fascinating, exciting, painful, frustrating, and unexpected in so many ways. We’ve had to figure out everything from how we spend our free time to who changes diapers on the weekends to a daily routine that keeps everybody fed, clean, and happy. Is having a cute house the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But it helps me keep a little bit of my identity in a world that’s dominated by sippy cups and snack times.

Do y’all have any tips for keeping some semblance of sanity in a home with small children? My number one tip is to get a dog–Juliet happily cleans up every crumb that falls to the ground. And my newest thing is to sing the clean up song while picking up Jack’s toys before naps and bedtime. I notice that he is actually more interested in them when they’re not all sitting out all the time and I’m hoping that as he gets older he’ll start joining in with putting them away.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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10 responses to Creative Babyproofing

  1. We’ve taken an “as it comes” approach to babyproofing. Ours is very into cabinets, so for the ones with dangerous items we got the magnetic type of locks by Safety First. I LOVE them because we can actually switch them off when she’s in bed or for when she gets older without going through the hassle of removal. We just try to manage and correct the other cabinets so that she’ll learn not to destroy them. In time lol. I hope. We might have to do something about bathroom garbages too – she’s worse than the dog!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

      MAGNETIC CABINET LOCKS! I’m going to have to look into those! I hate hate hate the latches we currently have. I always bruise my knuckles trying to get them open!

  2. Man, I guess it is all kids. Lucas loves cords, toilets, cabinets, knobs, dog food, and the springy door stops. The doorways to our sunroom/kitchen and kitchen/living room are both about 6 ft wide, so baby gates do nothing in our house. We just try to keep the living areas as bare as possible so we don’t have to worry. That way, if he crawls into the sunroom, I know he’s only playing with the dogs or if he crawls into the living room, he’s only playing with old cords in the cabinet on the entertainment center. Of course, this means my house isn’t nearly as cute as yours. ;)

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

      I bet your house is PLENTY cute! Baby gates are a giant pain in the ass so you’re not missing much. I’m too short to be hoisting myself up over them numerous times a day. I can’t wait until they invent baby-impermeable force fields.

  3. Fridge latch! They’re pretty cheap on Amazon but I am sure you could rig one yourself somehow. My 2 year old used to sneak away and throw eggs on the floor but now she can’t! Mwahahahaha!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Hahaha! I am literally laughing out loud at the thought of a toddler smashing eggs. Fortunately for us our freezer is on the bottom and the fridge is hard to open even for adults (it’s pretty tight against the wall, one of those old-house quirks, and it didn’t even occur to us that a model with handles on the front might be smart).

  4. I passed this on to my future sister in law. She’s 8 months pregnant with her first. I’m hoping she likes the ideas because I loved them. Though their dog is way to big and if they raised the baby gate enough for the dog then the future toddler would be able to crawl under and adults wouldn’t be able to step over it. Lol. But they have 8 or 9 cats and it would work for them!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 12, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Thanks for sharing! We are lucky that our dog is so little–she’s smaller than a cat! Speaking of cats, ours jump right over the gates like it’s no problem. I envy their agility.

  5. I just want to say how much I love reading your posts!

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