You can install countless babyproofing gadgets and locks on every door, drawer, nook and cranny in your home (or hire a babyproofing service to do it for you), or you can save a bundle with a few clever DIY tricks that make your home safer for your child. Babyproof your cabinets, babyproof your fireplace, create an awesome DIY child-proof door knob, and more with these cheap and easy babyproofing hacks.
When to Start Babyproofing
As your little one gets close to crawling, it's time to babyproof their environment. To start, get on the floor and look at the surroundings from a baby's perspective. See what's tempting to grab and pull, what's at eye level, and what could injure them. Then, put away fragile items, move cords, secure furniture that could fall over, and put padding on sharp edges.
Every few months, and when your child reaches a new milestone (like walking), evaluate your home for additional babyproofing needs. As they grow taller, the danger zones will increase. Try these budget-friendly safety tricks you can easily do yourself:
1. Secure stairways: The railings on staircases or landings on upper floors may look narrow, but they're big enough for kids' limbs (or heads!) to get stuck. Secure clear plastic or fabric to the railings to deter kids from playing with them.
2. Hide cleaning products: Plastic bins with lids and latches that baby can't open are a safer place for cleaning products than under your kitchen sink. If you can store them on a high shelf or out of sight in a cabinet as well, that's even better.
3. Corral cords: Cut a slit down an empty paper towel roll or piece of pipe insulation and thread multiple wires through it to keep them from becoming tangled in your tot's curious hands. You can also use zip ties to pull together cords and then tuck them far away from baby's reach.
4. Cover outlets: Put adhesive bandages or duct tape over electrical outlets if you don't have plastic covers (this trick also works great at hotels and other people's houses!). Avoid cartoon varieties of bandages that will attract little ones' attention.
5. Block off the fireplace: Babyproof a fireplace without sacrificing aesthetics too much by covering the opening with a piece of magnetic chalkboard (we love the one above from Sassy Wife/Classy Life). The chalkboard blocks off the fireplace and give little ones a surface on which to draw with chalk and play with magnets (choose large magnets that don't pose a choking hazard).
6. Place dishtowels out of reach: Nix the dishtowel hanging off your oven door handle. Kids can pull down on it and open a hot oven or bonk themselves with the heavy door. Move towels to a higher shelf or windowsill, or put them on command hooks out of baby's reach.
7. Use a toilet paper tube tester: There's no need to purchase a choke tester. Anything that can fit into an empty toilet paper tube is small enough for your baby to choke on. Keep all those wee things in tall cabinets.
8. Create a TP protector: Babies love to unroll toilet paper as much as pets do. Keep your TP intact and out of baby's hands and mouth with a two-liter soda bottle! Cut off the top and bottom of the bottle and cut a slit down the remaining center piece. Use tape to cover sharp, raw edges and slide the container over your toilet roll to cover it. See the tutorial at My Frugal Baby Tips.
9. Protect with pool noodles: These summertime staples can be used for everything from door stoppers to crib-rail covers that prevent tots from rolling out of bed. They're also good for wrapping around sharp edges, like around the fireplace, to minimize bumps and scrapes.
10. Pad corners with tennis balls: Tennis balls can soften sharp corners where a pool noodle doesn't fit. Cut a few small slices into the ball's core so you can wedge it over items like table corners. It may not look pretty, but this hack is pretty temporary. Before you know it, your toddler will be steady enough that you no longer feel the need to protect every corner in your home.
11. Shorten pull cords: Use clothespins or twist ties to shorten and hold up pull cords on curtains and blinds to remove this strangulation risk from your home. Command hooks are also handy for keeping cords out of reach.
12. Sock it to knobs: To keep little hands from turning door knobs, cover them with a spare sock and wrap a hair tie or rubber band around the base to hold the sock in place. An adult can still squeeze and turn the handle, but a child won't be able to.
13. Band together on horizontal cabinets: Attach hair ties or rubber bands to keep paired cabinet doors closed. Just loop the tie around the handles and your baby will only be able to open the doors slightly.
14. Get a handle on vertical drawers: Slide a yardstick or tension rod (or another long, thin object) through the handles of horizontally stacked drawers, rather than spending time and money on individual locks.
—Whitney C. Harris
featured photo: iStock