We’re in it. That mildly mind-wrecking moment when the tiniest human among us is making daily work of investigating every nook and cranny in our apartment and identifying for us yet another potentially hazardous corner in what we’d previously considered a fairly safe space. Babies!
In most homes, baby proofing is a thing that needs to be done to keep kids safe, but also to keep parents sane. It’s exhausting to bring a baby into a space where there are a million breakable or choke-able or otherwise dangerous items within easy reach.
No surprise, there are a great many products on the market to help you in your baby proofing mission. There are locks and latches and gates and gadgets, all designed to make a space designed without babies in mind to work slightly better with them in it. Some of these items are helpful. Socket covers, for instance, felt like a wise idea for curious tiny fingers. We found a discarded baby gate on the street and for a brief time when she was a baby, we experimented with barring Faye from the kitchen entirely. Our makeshift rubber banding of cabinet doors together when Faye was little worked out just fine, but we’re admittedly a bit more distracted this time around and so we’ve gotten a set of magnetic cabinet locks, which function perfectly well if not flawlessly.
Others of these items are less helpful. Our bed, if the mattress is slightly akimbo, reveals sharp corners. After a few dicey weeks of Silas pulling himself up onto the bed frame on precisely the most dangerous spot, we invested in a set of silicone corners. Two weeks after that, they’d all been pulled off. I still haven’t figured out a way to re-stick the suckers. We’ve been padding the corners with the edges of our blanket instead. Win some, lose some.
In my experience, most baby proofing measures mean at least a bit of discomfort or inconvenience on the part of the parent—whether you have an arsenal of baby-proofing gadgets in use or not. With that in mind, we’ve tried to rely as little as possible on gadgets and in general we’ve been able to find baby proofing solutions that require little expense and little in the way of single-use measures that we’ll be stuck with once our baby proofing days are over. A caveat: Individual spaces and individual kids will mean that everyone’s baby proofing journey looks a little different. With Faye, the timing of her mobility, the timing of the hottest radiator months, and her general interest in other things, meant we got away without investing in radiator covers. For Silas, who will be learning to walk just as the heat kicks on, we might well have to consider getting those radiators covered up or otherwise more securely cordoned off.
Here are a few rules of thumb for folks hoping to baby proof without buying up the entirety of the baby proofing aisle at the nearest big box store:
Clear the decks: I already have a tendency to keep surfaces in our house spare, but I’ve upped the ante a bit with little guys around. I’ve put jewelry into drawers instead of leaving it out. I’ve moved potted plants onto high, unreachable windowsills. In the kids room, I’ve cleared off Silas’s preferred shelf so that he’s not repeatedly strewing the room with small wooden dolls. Just a few simple shakers and a set of bowls has proved as much fun for him and less tedious for me.
Move the furniture: It’s not always a possibility, but sometimes a hazardous corner or a troublesome spot can be best baby proofed by simply getting obscured. Shift a dresser a few inches to one side and cover up an outlet, for instance. Move a bed a foot and make a lamp impossible to knock over. Turn a crate around to face the wall and every pair of shoes can no longer be licked by a small human.
Get creative: Beyond the single-use gadgetry there are also perfectly acceptable makeshift solutions. In our apartment we’ve used metal clamps from the hardware store to prevent the sliding closet door from getting opened. We’ve rigged some string to prevent a closest door with a lever handle from getting opened. We’ve rubber banded cabinet doors. We’ve used a series of mug hooks to keep wires secured to the underside of a desk. All of this stuff we already owned; all of it has been easy to remove (and replace).
Go without for a little while: This is never my most popular bit of advice, but as we have in nearly every aspect of our life in a tiny apartment, we’ve found there are cases when just living without something for awhile has been the easiest and most cost-effective solution. James is without his own bedside lamp for the moment, for instance, because Silas is determined to maul it every chance he has and there’s nowhere for it to live but a low table. It’ll stay tucked into the closet for a few months until he’s old enough to ignore or until we’re impatient enough to find a different solution. And so it goes.
What about you guys? Genius solutions of your own that you’re dying to share? Baby proofing challenges?