The joys of parenthood are plenty: Watching a child grow, guiding him in his journey toward adulthood, feeling proud of who your little one is turning out to be. But before you can send him off to college, you have to get him through his early years so he can survive to see his first day of kindergarten. Part of that journey will involve baby-proofing the house, which is no small task — especially when you’re busy withfeedings and 12 diaper changes a day. Read on for some tips about easy baby-proofing.
Create a plan of attack
First, decide what needs baby-proofing and what doesn’t. Chances are, you’ll be able to tackle the whole job in a weekend, so even if little Timmy isn’t tall enough to open the refrigerator yet, it’s best to go ahead and install the toddler-proof fridge door clasp now. Gather all the materials you’ll need before you get started — screwdrivers and bits, hammers and nails, specific items like the aforementioned latch — then hand off your kid to an otherwise unoccupied babysitter and get to work.
Two of the most important rooms in the house to baby-proof are the kitchen and bathroom, so focus on those areas first.
Scary but true: Accidental drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4, so the making your bathroom safe for your baby is essential. First, install a toilet lock to keep your little one from opening the lid, and then put child locks on the doors of any cabinets below the sink or otherwise accessible for your child.
A rubber or plastic guard around the bathtub faucet could help prevent bumps on the head during baths, and a non-slip mat on the floor beside the tub can help prevent falls. Place covers over all electrical outlets in case of curious fingers. Common sense will also tell you to store items like medication and scissors out of the reach of small hands and to never leave baby unattended in the tub.
Install more of those cabinet locks on all lower cabinets to keep your little guy out of the pots and pans, and of course make sure to install that latch on the refrigerator door. Beyond that, you should also install internal locking devices on all drawers — especially ones that contain sharp items like knives or graters — and move any items like toasters that could be pulled off of a counter and onto a child’s head. Consider switching from toxic cleaning products like bleach or ammonia to non-toxic, eco- and child-friendly ones like vinegar or baking soda.
If you’re able to free-up one cabinet, it can be the one cabinet your child is allowed to open. Make sure it’s far away from the oven, and fill it with items that are safe to play with, like lightweight plastic containers, rubber mixing bowls or foil pie plates. This will help entertain him and keep him out of your way — but still within sight — while you prepare meals.
Once you've baby-proofed the kitchen and the bathroom, you’re well on your way to a child-friendly home. Take care of this project while your baby is still small so you’re not chasing after him when he steals your hammer — and so you can be sure he’ll be safe when he starts to crawl.