Toddler Proofing 101
The moment that Jane and Emma could scoot their little butts across the floor, Hershey and I began scurrying to find ways to keep them safe from the perils that they would inevitably get themselves into. I’m not kidding when I tell you that everywhere we looked became a dangerous slip and slide into injury. Look in the kitchen and the place that was once my very favorite place to be became the scariest place in the house, where little hands could find spices, poisons, and sharp objects. Bathroom? More poison, slippery surfaces, and pools of water. And forget the master bedroom. Seriously, I wish that they would forget that it exists.
In an effort to keep our little explorers safe, we began following them around and relying on Amazon Prime to get us what we needed for toddler proofing our home quickly and at the right price. Each time they were in something that they shouldn’t be, I logged into my account, did a quick keyword search, and 2 days later our home was a safer place for curious little hands. It’s important to look at your home through the eyes of a toddler in an attempt to be proactive. What would interest them? What could they potentially get into? Here’s a breakdown of how we got ‘er done.
There is SO MUCH for littles to get into in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it is also where busy and hungry families spend a LOT of time. It was important to me that it be a child friendly place, while ALSO ensuring that all of my pots and pans stay where I put them for quick dinners. When I looked around, I saw so much potential for the girls to get hurt. First, we invested in a fridge that had the freezer drawer and double-door refrigerator. It’s impossible for the girls to get the drawer open, and they can’t reach anything in the fridge. HOLLER! Next, we installed magnetic cabinet locks. They are hidden, so they don’t muck up the facade of our beautiful, new cabinetry, and when the girls get bigger it’s a simple unscrew job that will take 5 minutes and you’ll never know they were there. For drawers, I needed something quick, because after installing all of the magnets, Hershey was D-O-N-E, so I simply placed strap locks on the outside of the drawers, and was even able to use the extras in other rooms. We also hid the garbage can under the sink, since our original Simple Human garbage can was constantly being explored. Under the sink it’s “out of sight, out of mind”, but they can still get to it when it’s time to throw something out (I took the magnetic lock off of just that door). Win. Finally, my babies LOVE to play with the stove. Go figure. I placed knob covers on the lighters, but I’m still searching for the perfect stove top guard, AND a lock for the oven door. I would also love to find a way to keep them out of my warming drawer where I keep all of my cookie sheets, but that’s low on my list of priorities. The biggest issue that I have with that is that they use the handle as a step to see what’s ON the stove. I’m just waiting for one of them to singe their eyebrows off one of these days…
Because we bought a fairly small home with no real play room, our living room has become the play room. Therefore, it has to serve double-duty. It must be simultaneously toddler-friendly AND adult-friendly. I need to be able to pick up and put away toys after the girls go to bed and still have a space where I can hang out and watch TV. That being said, we opted for a TV stand with sliding doors that we could lock if we needed to, but could also hide toys in when the girls go to sleep. We went cheap so that if we didn’t LOVE it, we could junk it when the girls get bigger. It also needed to be somewhat HIGH so that Jane and Emma couldn’t reach the TV or pull anything down onto their heads, and the wires needed a place to hide. I installed a strap lock to keep the door with the cable box and DVD player in it CLOSED. We also moved our beautiful solid wood coffee table into the man cave for now, and purchased a cushion-top storage ottoman from Wayfair. It houses our blankey collection and the girls’ Etch-a-Sketches, and when they fly off of the couch and hit that, they bounce. Score. Before we purchased the ottoman, we used corner cushions on every pointy, head-level corner, including on our dining room table. Additionally, since we have a split level home, there are lots of stairs for the ladies to tumble down and climb, so I purchased a gate for each stair opening. We have since removed the gates going up to the top floor, as the ladies have learned how to independently go up and down the stairs, and they play very nicely upstairs by themselves (and sometimes even together!) while I’m cooking or folding laundry now, so we wanted to give them the independence to do so. We left the gate on leading from the kitchen to the lower level of the house, since I don’t think that they need to be playing in the litter box, laundry room, or man cave. Which leads me to my next point.
Jane and Emma have become very independent, and in an effort to encourage that independence, we allow them to choose where they play during the day. If they want to wander upstairs to their rooms, that’s allowed. For that to happen, we had to kiddie proof big time up there. First, I purchased door handle locks for the linen closet, bathroom, our bedroom, and their closet doors. The only places that they can get into are their own bedrooms. I then purchased pinch guards for their doors, as well as hinge pin door stops. The girls LOOOOOVE to slam the doors and then FLING them open as hard as possible. I found early on that those door stops near the floor become fun and DANGEROUS toys for little curious babies, so since they have successfully slammed holes into each of their walls from flinging the doors wide open, I installed hinge pin door stops on the top hinge. They can’t get to them, and they also can no longer crash the doors up against the walls. They also can no longer pinch their fingers, slam their sister’s head in the door, OR close the door with them on the inside of the room while I’m downstairs. Since the doors can’t close, I can hear EVERYTHING that goes on up there, and intercept fights or respond to ouchies easily and quickly. I also put out crayons and coloring books, wedged drawers that clothes are in shut using old burp cloths (very technical, I know, but worth it to save my sanity when they have unfolded everything that I spent so long folding for the 73rd time), and put baby clothes, extra blankies, and dress up clothes in low drawers that they can reach. They’ve slammed their fingers a couple of times, but they learned quickly after that not to put their fingies in there anymore! I also intend on installing a furniture strap for Emma’s tall dresser, because I found them both standing in the bottom drawer of the dresser once and I don’t want to find them UNDER the dresser next time. I won’t be posting any pics of the girls’ rooms this time, as we are in the process of FINALLY working on making them into little girl rooms, and I’ll have a tour post coming up before the end of the summer!
Now, this obviously doesn’t solve every problem. It’s just the tip of the iceberg-that-sunk-Titanic. Last week, Jane fell down the stairs and smacked her forehead so hard that she had a golf ball sized goose egg within seconds of landing, and yesterday morning they were playing on the couch with Daddy and Jane grabbed Emma and they both FLEW off of the couch and landed on their heads, with Hershey LITERALLY sitting right there. We can’t save them from EVERY boo-boo, but at least we can save them from SOME of the more obvious and preventable ones. I also hide all cords, and buy STOCK in outlet covers, which I also throw a Ziploc bag full of into our suitcase when we travel for those outlets away from home. When it comes to their safety, I will spare NO expense to make sure that my girls are safe. They are brave, independent, and curious, but as toddlers, they are also blissfully unaware of danger and will just throw their bodies around like they’ve got an extra body to spare. We want to foster their independence without saying “NO” a million kajillion times a day. If they try to get into something and can’t they will usually move on. Of course we are starting to attempt to rationalize with them (“Emma, remember when you fell off of the couch yesterday? Remember how much that hurt? Maybe you should sit on your heiney.” “It hurt so much I needed a CHOOPIE Mommy!” “Right, so let’s sit down.” “Needed a CHOOPIE Mommy!” Okay, thank you Captain Repeat, now SIT THE EFF DOWN!!!), but as long as they are toddlers, they are always going to ACT like toddlers, so I’ll continue to follow them around and try to nix the ouchies before they start.
How do you keep your most precious cargo safe in your home? I’d love to hear some new ideas (especially if you have any magic problem solver for that DANG stove??!).
To the right you will find links to the items that WE purchased and use every day. Some are pictured above, but if you have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me. I research everything very thoroughly before I purchase anything, so I stand by my endorsements of these products, or I wouldn’t be referring them!
I hope that you are having a great week everyone!