For new and prospective parents, baby proofing the home can be one of the most daunting tasks you face. There are so many different aspects to think of and consider. Virtually every room in your house requires something, and you can almost see the dollar signs piling up as you try to figure out how best to keep your precious child safe.
As a parent of four adventurous children (including a set of mischievous twins) I can certainly relate to that stress. Fortunately, with a little work, creative thinking, and a few things already around your house baby proofing your home doesn’t have to be terribly expensive.
Continue reading for our complete guide to keeping your baby safe while sticking to your budget.
Rearrange What You Can
One of the best ways to baby proof your home doesn’t require any money at all. Rather than investing the time and money on expensive cabinet and drawer locks that usually break easily after only a few weeks or even days of use, the simpler way to baby proof your kitchen, bathroom, and any other room in your home is to do some rearranging.
Most families keep things like dish soap and cleaners under the sink. Move these into higher cabinets, and put things that baby can’t harm themselves with like lighter pots and pans, plastic storage containers, or larger cooking spoons in the lower drawers.
For other rooms in the house, pack way dangerous or easily broken for a year or two, or move them to higher display shelves or locked curio/display cabinets until your child is old enough to understand “no”.
Use What You Have On Hand
There are many cheap alternatives to the expensive baby proofing products out there, many of which you probably have on hand. Here is a list of some of my favorites:
1) Cut a slit in tennis balls and use them as sharp corner covers. They also work very well as doorknob covers for most household doorknobs.
2) For sharp edges of coffee tables, cut a slit in a pool noodle instead of buying the expensive edge covers.
3) Instead of clunky, hard-to-remove cabinet locks, use elastic hair bands to hold the two doors closed.
4) For larger doors that you want to keep from slamming shut, place a washcloth over the top of the door. It’s an excellent way to keep your child’s fingers from getting accidentally slammed in a doorway.
5) For the early movement ages, a few strips of Velcro can help keep knick-knacks, remotes, and other items in their places.
6) Many homes have bedroom and bathroom doors that lock from the inside. These usually come with a small key in case someone accidentally locks themselves inside. Instead of buying baby gates, using these door locks and keeping the key with you is a free alternative.
Create a Safe Space
Consider making your child’s room or one other room in your home a completely safe space for your baby.
Go over the room with a fine-toothed comb:
- Remove any heavy furniture,
- Cover electrical outlets,
- Fill the room with toys and activities that are safe for baby.
Put a baby gate across the door, and place your child in this room whenever you need a few minutes for yourself. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing your child is safe while you cook a meal, or take a shower, and gives your child the pleasure of having a space where they can roam and play freely.
Buy What You Have To – Used
Baby proofing materials like baby gates, furniture brackets, outlet plugs, high chairs, play yards and more can usually be found at yard sales, thrift stores, and on Craigslist. These items are usually very low cost, and in some cases even for free.
Ask other parents that you know for any items they’re no longer using, or for any extras that they might be able give you. Most store-bought baby proofing materials come in bulk packages that often contain more than a single family can use.
Do It Yourself
There are some things that it may be cheaper and more convenient to make yourself, if you have the correct tools and materials.
Baby gates, for example, are often made to one standard size, and it can be difficult to find a gate that will fit narrower or wider doorways or hallways. In these instances, consider making one yourself as an alternative to placing an expensive special order.
One of my favorite do-it-yourself baby gates is this one made from some simple, strong, PVC piping. It easily swings open and closed, but unlike store-bought gates, it’s strong enough that a toddler won’t be able to collapse it with their weight like most pressure-mounted gates. This gate also works well for pets, as it doesn’t have the mesh-like material that they can scratch up or climb easily.
There Is No Substitute for Supervision
There is no better baby proofing than keeping your eyes and ears on your child. Even the best store-bought safety latches and doorknob covers aren’t foolproof.
Keeping a close eye on your child wherever they happen to be is naturally the best way to keep them safe.
Begin setting boundaries for you child early, and reinforce these boundaries as they get older. This will allow your children to learn what is safe and unsafe earlier. Having you close by while they play also provides a sense of security for your child, as well as additional opportunities for bonding as your little ones grow and begin to develop their curiosities and personality. That being said…
Accept that Bumps and Bruises Will Happen
No matter how hard you might try, or how attentive you might be you cannot keep your eyes on your child every second of every day. Accidents are bound to happen, and your child is going to end up with some cuts and scrapes, bumps and bruises as they grow and explore our world.
As painful as it might be to think of, getting the occasional minor injury can be a good thing for your child. It lets them know that some things are dangerous, but it also teaches them that it’s okay to get hurt.
Falling down and getting a scraped knee can teach a valuable lesson about picking themselves up and continuing on with their day. A little scrape isn’t going to ruin them for life. While it is important to make sure that you take care of the big dangers, and that you’re there to pick them up and give comfort when minor injuries do happen, a simple fall isn’t going to be the end of the world.