Monday, July 6, 2015

Baby 101: Babyproofing

Babyproofing....how can it already be time for that?  We started the babyproofing process when C started crawling (mostly just outlet covers), and now that he's pulling up, we finished (for now) the babyproofing process this weekend.
When I say "babyproofing", I'm referring to REALLY dangerous things that could seriously injure or even kill a child (mine or a guest's), like electricity, chemicals, and heavy furniture.  As we discovered this weekend, there is still a lot of breakable stuff in our house at kid-level, it's just not stuff that will seriously injure them....so that is an ongoing process that we are correcting as we identify those issues.  However, I sleep better at night knowing that most of the MAJOR hazards in my house have been babyproofed.  

I read about 76,356 Amazon reviews on babyproofing products before making my purchases, so I consider these well researched. :)  I spent about $200-250 in total, which I consider to be well worth the peace of mind that it brings me (note that we do not have any stairs, so this did not include baby gates).  There are definitely less expensive options available, but I wanted 1) convenience for how we use our house, and 2) high quality (if we're going to go to the effort, I want it to work!)  Everything was easy and quick to install ourselves.



1.  Outlet covers

Every US household with a baby has dozens of these outlet covers, I'm sure of it.  I remember them from my old childhood, and they haven't changed much!  We use 2 different solutions to keep C's fingers out of the electrical outlets (see #2 below); we use this type for the outlets that we never use.  I'm sure that 99% of families use these on all of their outlets, but I didn't want to always question whether I remembered to put the little plastic thing back in the outlet after I finished vacuuming, so we don't use this style of outlet cover on the outlets that we routinely use (more on that below).  

This particular brand of outlet cover (Mommy's Helper) fits firmly in the outlet and takes some effort to remove.  I read a bunch of Amazon reviews of other brands in which reviewers said their baby could easily remove the plastic outlet cover, totally defeating the purpose of having them in the first place, so I went with this brand instead.  

For reference, I ordered 2 packages of 36.  Keep in mind that you only need them for the floor-level outlets, not those at counter-level in bathrooms, kitchens, etc.  I also put them in the spare outlets on power strips.


As mentioned above, I did not want to keep track of those little plastic plugs for outlets that we use regularly.  This includes outlets in which something is normally plugged in all the time (lamps, mostly), as well as outlets that don't ALWAYS have something plugged in, but I use frequently (namely, the outlet in each room that I plug the vacuum into, as well as the outlets we typically use for cell phone chargers and plugging in the laptop).  These "safe plates" are a slightly more expensive solution than the plug-style outlet covers (#1 above), but only marginally so, and totally worth it for the convenience factor (in my opinion).  You actually replace your existing electrical outlet covers/plates with these - they are super easy to install with 1 (provided) screw.  

It has a spring-loaded little door that keeps the outlet closed when not in use; when you need to use the outlet,  you just slide it to the side to expose the outlet and plug in your electrical plug.  When you pull the plug out, the little door will automatically close again due to the spring-loaded feature.  That way, you don't have to remember to put the little plastic plug back in, and you can worry a little less about baby unplugging something and trying to stick their fingers in the hole (since the plug-style outlet covers don't solve this problem - they're only installed on the outlets you're NOT using).  

So far we have been really happy with these.  We have a total of 11 of these in our house.  Keep in mind that these only work with the standard round electrical outlets; they don't work on the rectangular GFCI outlets (although those are usually at counter height).


Cabinet locks were one of the babyproofing items with the most variation among the options - there are a million different styles, including the plastic latches, the magnetic latches, the plastic sliding locks, and these.  Since our cabinets are fairly new (from a kitchen renovation 4 years ago), I did not want something that required drilling into the cabinets, which most of the latch (magnetic or plastic) style locks required.  I like the ease of the plastic sliding locks, but after trying one out I could tell that the hard plastic would scratch the surface of my white-painted cabinets over time.  

We ended up with these Kiscords cabinet locks, which are basically a white shoelace with 2 plastic sliders that lock the shoelace taut around the knobs (you have to push a button to release the plastic sliders, and there are 2 of them, which reduces the risk that your baby successfully unlocks these).  We just started using these this weekend but they seem like they are easy enough to use and definitely won't damage our cabinets, since they're a soft shoelace material.  The cord definitely isn't long enough to be a strangulation concern, in case you're worried about that.  Keep in mind that these ONLY work for round "knob" style cabinet pulls...they will not work on handles (the same company makes another product for that style of cabinet pull, although I can't attest to them since I haven't tried them).  

We have 8 of these, mostly in our kitchen (under-sink cabinet with cleaning products and other cabinets with breakable items near ground level), as well as the cabinets under the sinks in all of our bathrooms (more cleaning products).


Our living room has a raised fireplace hearth made of brick - full of sharp edges for C to accidentally fall on.  Luckily, we don't have any other baby-height furniture with sharp edges (our coffee table has rounded edges).  We bought this Safe Edge and Corner Cushion pack in the "coffee" color, which matches the color of our fireplace brick well.  It comes with a big roll of padded cushion for straight edges, as well as 4 "corner" padded pieces.  It adheres with peel-and-stick 3M adhesive (provided), and was easy to cut to size for our fireplace.  C has already started pulling up/climbing on the brick, so I am glad we installed this early! 


This is a problem that our parents didn't have to deal with when we were kids, since TVs were giant boxes that weighed a hundred pounds.  Now we have monstrous TVs in our homes that balance on a teeny little stand, which is sturdy enough until you have a child pulling up/climbing on the furniture.  A TV is super easy to tip over (I've caused them to teeter myself at friends' houses just bumping into their furniture!)  According to www.safekids.org, every 3 weeks a child dies from a television tipping over. Over the past 10 years, a child visited the emergency room every 45 minutes because of a TV tipping over. Per the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a TV can fall with the force of thousands of pounds. That is 10 times more powerful than being hit by a NFL lineman.  Yikes.  

If your TVs are all wall-mounted, you're fine.  However, if you have flat-screen TVs on furniture (dresser, entertainment center, etc.), you need to secure them to prevent them from tipping onto a little one.  You use the same holes that you would use to wall-mount your TV, so you don't have to drill into the back of your flat-screen TV (don't worry!)  You anchor the other end of the strap to either the piece of furniture the TV is sitting on or the wall behind the TV (we anchored our TVs to the furniture).  Again, I read Amazon reviews of several different brands of these TV anti-tip straps; there were cheaper options but reviews mentioned them being made of flimsy plastic and not being confident that they would really work in practice.  

These Safety Innovations straps had great reviews and are made of sturdy straps with metal (not plastic) brackets.  They were easy to install into the wall studs with a stud finder, an electric drill, and an electric screwdriver and came with the required hardware (including multiple sizes of bolts depending on the size of the mounting holes on the back of your TV).  We tried to wiggle our TV after installing the straps and that thing does. not. budge.


Similar with the TVs, heavy furniture is a major tipping hazard, especially furniture with drawers.  If a child opens the drawers and tries to climb them (which they will, at some point), it changes the center of gravity of the furniture and makes it easy to tip over on them, even if the piece of furniture is heavy and seems otherwise sturdy.  We opened a lower drawer on our tall dresser and were shocked how little weight we had to put on the drawer (in addition to the weight of the drawer's contents) for the entire dresser to become unstable.  

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
  • 81 percent of tip-over fatalities occur in the home.
  • 2/3 of TV and furniture tip-over fatalities involve toddlers.
  • 42 percent of tip-over fatalities occur in a bedroom.
  • Every 15 minutes someone in the U.S. is injured by furniture tip-over.
This video shows you how easily this can happen:




Ikea includes anti-tip straps with all of their furniture, which is awesome.  For all of our other furniture, we installed these anti-tip straps.  They're basically the same concept as the TV straps (#5 above) except that you drill holes in the back of your furniture, rather than use the existing TV mounting holes.  You anchor them into wall studs for a secure hold.  After installing these, Blair was able to pull on the furniture with his full body weight without the furniture so much as even rocking towards him.  

We installed a total of 6 of these in our house (3 dressers, china cabinet, TV stand, and a desk with a tall hutch - basically every piece of furniture with drawers or shelves).  Note that you need 2 straps per piece of furniture; it is confusing that it's labeled a "2-pack", because that makes you think that it would secure 2 pieces of furniture, but no - you need both straps for 1 piece of furniture.


If your house has the standard spring-style, floor-level door stops (ours does), kiddos love to pull off the white rubber ends, which can be a choking hazard.  We replaced all of our doorstops with these Mommy's Helper solid doorstops; super easy - they just screw right into the existing hole from your old doorstop.  (I'm not sure why they're called "soft" door stops, because they are solid, hard plastic - but they do the trick without creating a choking hazard).

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If you live in a 2-story house, you'll want baby gates too....but I can't recommend those since we live in a 1-story house and don't need them!


Hope this helps!



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