As baby #3 hits the 6-month mark, I’m beginning my household baby-proofing again (or at least getting myself back on track after some time slacking)! This go-around I’ve got my list ready. Here’s a sneak-peak into my trade secrets as the mom of a very creative, strong-willed toddler.
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1. Kitchen Cabinet Locks
Nothing can start a day on the wrong foot like the sound of crashing dishes first thing in the morning. Littles ones love noise and imitating mommy cooking, but constantly picking up dirty plates and cups off the kitchen floor is a headache. For my sanity sake, I reserved them one cabinet with kid-safe Tupperware and a few old pots and pans they could use at their leisure. All other cabinets I secured!
First, I used the rubber band-around-the-handles trick, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t going to cut it with my Houdini. Next, I tried the traditional safety catches where you open the cabinet then push down on a small piece of plastic, but these broke easily with frequent cupboard door pulling and slamming. After some research into a better system, I found these awesome Munchkin Xtraguard Dual Action Multi Use Latches. These are some very strong latches. They’ve held up nicely to several years on daily use. You can conveniently release them from either side. The adhesive has held up for several years on our kitchen cabinets. The only down side is they don’t work well securing closet doors (the adhesive didn’t stick well to the walls plus our strong toddler seemed to get more leverage with the bigger doors and could pop the latches with some good tugs). Most of these latches are still intact on our cabinets so I’ll be checking to make sure the adhesive is still good and maybe adding a few more to some bathroom cabinets.
2. Refrigerator Locks
I decided I needed a refrigerator lock when I found my little busy body in the fridge taking out the eggs to “fix breakfast.” After cleaning up broken eggs off the floor, I began to look for options for a side-by-side refrigerator freezer. I found this Safety First Side by Side Cabinet Lock that works like zip strips. It is cumbersome at first. And you cannot access the fridge in a hurry very well (but since when is getting to food an emergency!). It held up well for a year! Unfortunately, a spirited 7-year-old boy yanked too hard on the doors and broke the lock. So, I’m on the hunt for something tougher! Comment with ideas you’ve tried and I’ll post a review once they’ve been thoroughly tested by my crew!
* If you have a top mount double door refrigerator/ freezer see the Multi Use Latches above
3. Electrical Outlets
In the past, I’ve used the plastic outlet covers (I even tried fancy ones with a special release I couldn’t even figure out). They meet basic safety standards including most foster and adoption home studies. However, I was informed by a trusted electrician they can cause damage to your electrical outlets by stretching out the receptacle. I’ve recently installed Wonderkid Self-closing Outlet Covers that provide protection, but are designed to only accept the plug. They are very easy to install. Just screw these in place of your old outlet covers.
4. Door Alarms
For fire safety reasons, you should avoid door locks that prevent anyone from getting out of a room or building. Most locks are now designed to prevent entry, but not exit from a room. Anyone considering fostering or adopting will find this on their safety audit. So, what’s a desperate parent to do? GE Personal Security Door/Window Alarms are a handy alternative for parents of escape artists. We use a magnetic system that rings a tone similar to a door bell if anyone open the outside doors. These can also be used on bedroom doors if you have a child who tends to wander at night.
5. Toilet Locks
I never thought in my wildest dreams a toilet lock would be necessary. But once I witnessed a lovey get dunked and watched my 1 year old almost fall in the toilet after it, I realized I had to find one quickly! I looked at the latch style first, but found most adhesives did not stick well to porcelain. I came across Safety First Push Button Toilet Lock. It mounts directly to the toilet seat bolts so no adhesive necessary. I found it secure and easily removed once this phase ended in our home (thank goodness!). The push button feature was really easy to use. I could even release it one handed while holding a baby!
6. Medication Boxes
My kids love the taste of children’s acetaminophen and all those yummy tasting kid vitamins and supplements. It’s great they’ve made it easier to get them to take otherwise unpleasant medications, but it comes with a big safety risk. I first heard about medication boxes when we started preparing our home for foster care. We were told we needed to lock up all prescription medications in a lock box secured with a combination or key. I started to search for different options, but most medication boxes were very small and expensive. My husband suggested using a tool box with a padlock. It worked great! Here is a nice Stanley Toolbox on Amazon. It is much more spacious than the average medication box so you can add over-the-counter medications and supplements too.
7. Sliding Doors
When we purchased our 1960’s style home a few years ago, I quickly noticed all the sliding wooden closet doors. Ugh…Childhood memories of sore, smashed fingers started dancing through my head! I set out on mission avoid-traumatic-hand-injuries. First I had my husband go through and place tracks on the bottom of the doors to prevent them from swinging. It helped prevent the doors from falling off the upper tracks. but did not help the pinched fingers issues. Once our adventurer started walking (and closing doors), I simply remove the closet doors all together. Problem solved! I kept the closet floors clear and put all important items on the closet shelf. A creative friend added a curtain rod and curtains to her closets for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
For outdoor sliding doors, the most effective (and inexpensive) way I’ve encountered to keep kids from slamming them shut on limbs is to use a dowel rod or other strong stick in the door track to keep them from opening it. Unfortunately, I doubt that method would meet fire safety requirements for foster and adoptive parents. I would love to hear your unique ideas for this issue so please comment at the end!
8. Baby Gates for Doorways and Stairways
Baby gates are a popular item on baby registries and for very good reasons! I have used many different types to both contain and deter toddlers. My favorite gate with a swinging door is the Dream Baby Extra Tall Auto Close Security Gate. It is nice and strong (I’m currently using one to pin up my 95lb dog). The door is convenient so you don’t have to constantly climb over or remove it to get through. I liked the extra tall feature too since my ornery toddler was very tall and agile at an early age. You can also buy extensions in various sizes if you have a slightly larger doorway or hallway you want to block.
If you are looking for an inexpensive option, the Evenflo Position and lock Pressure Mounted Wooden Gate works well for spaces you don’t need to enter and exit very often during the day. Pressure mounted gates in general take some work to get positioned right, but this one does a good job holding tight even with strong toddlers pushing and pulling on it all day. My mom used one to block her upstairs when grandkids visited. It held out well with frequent use.
Rooms with large entry ways can be particular difficult to block off. I found most pressure gate systems simply did not hold up to kids pushing and pulling on them in large entryways. I started looking around for other ideas and found Northstates Superyard Playard at a local baby resale shop. These are individual panels you can attach to each other to make a long line or a playard. I found a second set of 6 panels and used them in various lengths to block off certain areas of my living room such as the fireplace. I also used them as an outdoor playard to contain my small puppy. They are very versatile and clean easily. I’ve kept all 12 panels and plan to get them out soon!
9. Knife and Scissor Storage
I think every mom experiences that huge lump-in-the-throat feeling when she realizes little Tommy or Susie is running around with scissors in hand! Somehow little mischief-makers seem to sense the danger and run straight for it. My own experience with kids running sharp objects has landed me in an urgent care with a child getting stitches (how dare I drop my guard long enough to use the restroom!). After that rather unpleasant incident with an unknown sharp object, I decided I need to do more than simply move the knife block farther back on the kitchen counter.
I started by sorting my knives and scissors into two stacks: ones I use almost daily and ones I only use occasionally. I put the “occasional use” stack in a knife block and placed in a locked storage cabinet with my cleaning supplies. The “daily use” stack I placed in another knife block in an upper cupboard where I could get them down without a stool. I also added a Multi-Use Latch to the cupboard. The combination of keeping them out of sight and out of easy access did the trick for my ornery little one.
If there are any more concerning safety issues with knifes in your household, find a way to lock them up with a padlock. It is a little more inconvenient, but totally worth the peace of mind!
10. Cleaning Products Storage
A few years ago my husband came across a metal storage cabinets on a local selling wall. I quickly claimed one for my painting, cleaning and other household products I wanted to keep away from the kids (I even lock-up most liquid soaps). I keep a small caddy in it with my essential cleaning sprays and paper towels for convenient, quick access. It is not most attractive cabinet, but it’s in my laundry room so no one sees it anyway. Another option is to use a locking office cabinet or file cabinet. Especially for foster and adoptive parents, it is important to padlock all cleaning, painting, lawn treatment, and other possibly toxic products instead of just using a latched cabinet. Another option is to have only non-toxic products in your household. Keep in mind that you will still want to store them in latched cupboard to avoid unnecessary messes!
Well, that’s it for now! I hope this post was helpful for you in baby-proofing. I would love to hear your feedback! Please post comments and suggestions you have tried to keep your busy little ones safe.