Em’s top tips for babyproofing
Before The Boy could crawl I was seriously annoyed by all of the people that told me
“Enjoy it because once he’s on the move it’s going to be difficult”.
My precious boy found it so frustrating to be stuck in one place – I wanted him to be able to move for his own sanity
Once he could crawl however I learned that people weren’t wrong – nowhere in the house seems to be off limits and his curiosity has lead to too many dangerous situations than I like to remember.
Babyproofing has been key to keep him safe and to keep me sane from constantly chasing him away from dangerous edges and doors. Here are my top five tips for babyproofing your house, and the three common things that I haven’t done – and why!
Installing stairgates was the first thing we did to babyproof – at the top and bottom of all of our stairs. We have both a fancy pants BabyDan one for opposite the front door (I wanted it to look nice) and some Mothercare own brand ones (Blockit). The Mothercare own brand is definitely better – when the door is swung by an inquisitive child they shut rather than locking at the hinge end and still being open at the latch.
As many people with older houses may find, we struggled with the stairs being much wider at the top than the bottom and also from the walls not being strong enough to manage the force of the gates being moved. Our solution: Add a wooden block to one side – It will bridge the gap and help the gate to be more secure.
It might seem a bit extra to get a rug just for your baby but we found that The Boy and his playmates really struggled on our wooden floors whilst learning to crawl. It was hard to balance and when inevitably they fell they hit their face on the hard surface. We were lucky enough to be given a large Persian rug from my parents but before that, we bought (and returned) some rugs from Anthropologie and The Rugs Warehouse.
3. Magnetic door catches
As our downstairs living room, kitchen and conservatory are all open plan its hard to separate The Boy from the wonders that lie in our kitchen cupboard and drawers. Having just paid a small fortune to have the kitchen professionally painted we were very reluctant to childproof the kitchen units however after one too many trapped fingers we realised we had no choice. Luckily I found magnetic door catches on Amazon. These sit on the inside of the cupboards and drawers and are unlocked using a separate magnet. The great thing about these is that they are invisible from the outside. Unfortunately, this is also their downfall – without a lot of trial and error it’s impossible to work out where to put the magnet to unlock them. We have ended up putting stickers on the drawers and cupboard to show where the magnet is – not ideal but better than ruining the paintwork with stick-on locks.
4. Anti-tip furniture straps
Like most people in the UK, we have an abundance of Ikea including the ubiquitous Ikea chest of drawers in The Boy’s room. Securing this to the wall was my number one babyproofing priority – there are far too many stories of where children have been seriously injured or worse from IKEA dressers. We found the BabyDan straps easy to use and relatively unobtrusive.
Doors are a relatively new obsession in our house. The Boy particularly loves investigating door hinges. We chose to use these fun door stops to stop The Boy being able to move the doors because of their fun shape and simplicity but to be honest a Poundland door wedge would do the same job.
Controversially there are a few babyproofing things I chose not to do. Here are the main three.
1. Plug socket covers
I am shocked that these are even sold for UK plug sockets. They have been proven to be unnecessary due to the design of our plug sockets and in fact to be more dangerous than sockets without. This is backed by the NHS, Department for Education and the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturing Association. In other geographies such as the US where plugs are not earthed in the same way they may be of use, but in the UK they should not be used at all.
2. Corner edge protectors
Logically corner edge protectors seem to make sense. Noone wants their precious baby to hit their head on a sharp corner however we chose not to use them for table edges or other corners because I think that using them would give a false sense of security and would stop The Boy from learning how to assess risk. Sure enough after a few egg-sized bumps he has become adept at ducking under or going over obstacles.
3. Playpen / Room divider
I actually did a lot of research into buying a playpen or room divider, especially as we have two steps in the middle of our living room (see picture of The Boy on his way up said steps). The benefits of having a pen “baby jail” or room divider is to provide a safe place to put The Boy and being able to protect him from falling down the stairs. However, I decided these were outweighed by the downsides. Firstly, as with the corner edge protectors, I worried that having something in place to protect him was just delaying him being able to learn how to manage the steps safely. At some point, he would have to learn! Secondly, a playpen would stop The Boy from exploring his surroundings, for example, learning to stand by pulling up on the sofa or coffee table, or through exploring household objects like books himself.
So there you go! Nearly 1000 words on babyproofing – I’m almost embarrassed!