September 16, 2009,
B.L. asks from Sand Springs, OK on September 15, 2009
2 Year Old Opening Baby-gates and Doors
My activity 2 year old has just learned to open the walk-thru baby gates and door knobs. My problem is how to keep him safely OUT of rooms I don't want him in. Yesterday he let himself into the bathroom and put ALL the toilet paper in the bowl and flushed -- you know the result! Then he got into the other bathroom and applied an entire tube of lotion on his hair, "I wash me!" he proudly told me. Today his hair is VERY soft. He also likes to brush his own teeth with as much toothpaste as he can get (no he doesn't swollow, but spits in, or near, the sink) and likes to try different toothbrushes, never his own. My 1 year old like to splash in the toilet bowl and enjoys turning the bathtub water on and off, usually just on! He can only reach the cold at the point, so its not as much a safety issues as wasteful, but toilets are yucky no matter how much I clean!
I have tried taking the mystery and intrigue out of the bathroom by giving the little ones more access to it, but that only created more messes. In recent months the rule has been no babies in the restroom without an adult. So the gate went back up.
The restrooms need to stay accessable to the older children to eliminate accidents. I need to give the my attention to the other children at times and let these two sweeties play in the house on their own. Everything has been just fine until my precious one learned to open the doors AND gates. Any suggestions on how to keep my house AND kids safe with a 2 year old who knows how to open gates and doors?
J.F. answers from Fayetteville on September 16, 2009
It sounds like my house. The door knobs covers work for some but not at my home. I had trouble getting the door open by my 2 year old was able to get them open within 3 minutes of being installed. I have a baby gate that will adjust to several size doors that when you want to remove it you push a button over and then pull it up. I have trouble getting it removed and this is the only thing that have saved us. It has two rubber feet on each side (top and bottom) and if I also want to keep the dogs out of the room I can pull it up high enough to keep them and Emerson out of the room and can climb over if I need too. My six year old niece can climb over it without any problems.
A.L. answers from Oklahoma City on September 16, 2009
Of course, there are newer things on the market now. My son is 23. He could open or climb over baby gates. I installed screen doors with hardware cloth (that tough kind of wire) on the doors that I needed to deny him access to. It worked!
A.M. answers from Oklahoma City on September 16, 2009
Definitely the First Years Hands Free gate. You step on the pedal and push. It is awesome. I also like that you can leave it open if it is just you in the house and want to walk freely in and out if needed. Too heavy for little ones to step on. You can most likely find one on Craigslist.
Must get the doorknob covers that require more pressure to turn. Will be fine for older ones.
S.J. answers from Tulsa on September 16, 2009
The only thing I can think of is putting a hook and eye latch high on the outside of the bathroom door, but since you have the older kids, they would just have to get you every time they need to go to the bathroom, which might be a pain. Or depending on how old the older ones are, maybe they could reach the latch but the younger one can't? One caveat: make sure the older kids know there will be severe consequences if they use the latch to lock a sibling IN the bathroom. That is not funny (some kids freak out if locked in a bathroom or small room) and can be dangerous.
S.N. answers from Oklahoma City on September 16, 2009
DOORLOCKS! Door locks are wonderful things. You can put a hook and eye lock on the doors you want to keep the babies out of that are low enough down the they can't reach but the older children can. You can also get chain locks, those work just as well. It looks tacky, but it cuts down on mess and keeps anyone from swimming in the potty, flushing your cell phone, or decorating the bathroom in toilet paper and toothpaste. My darling soon to be three year old is the master at these games, but not the chain lock that keeps him away from where he doesn't belong, lol. I totally understand your frustration, my son was scaling his child gates at about eighteen months. Then it was getting into everything he could in the bathroom, the refrigerator, etc. I would give the locks a try. They're an effective 'no' and safe when you're distracted.
S.H. answers from Huntsville on September 15, 2009
I'm not sure exactly what type of gates you have, but you could try The First Years Hands Free gate. Even if your 2 year old learns HOW you open this gate, he (hopefully) doesn't weigh enough to do it himself. The gate has a foot pedal that has to be pressed down hard to release the gate. My daughter is 3 1/2 and knows HOW to do it, just doesn't weigh enough yet!
I don't know how old your other kids are, but of course you'd have to make sure they can open these gates. They are the best gates ever! (In my opinion!)
For the door knobs, Safety 1st (and I'm sure other brands) make door knob covers where you either have to squeeze to grip the door knob, or stick your fingers through little holds to grab the door knob. My daughter can't master those yet either!
R.E. answers from Tulsa on September 16, 2009
I saw what Kelly W. wrote and wanted to second that. I have a 25-month-old and a 7-month-old, and the 25-monther has been very good abou not going into our office (where the computer, cat food bowls, and litter box are) because I told him firmly again and again "no go in office." If he went in, I'd tell him no and take him out; if he went in intentionally (you know, when they look directly at you and do something), then I would swat him a couple times, say "no!" and/or put him in his room for a little while. When he'd pause at the door, say "no?" and walk past, I'd tell him "good job!" or "that's right! No go in office!" in a cheerful voice. And now I can trust him with the door open. He also doesn't go into our bedroom because I repeatedly tell him "not without Mommy or Daddy." So it can be done with older kids and without expensive gadgetry. It sounds like you've had your fill of mess and frustration, though, and I sympathize! Good luck!
K.W. answers from Tuscaloosa on September 16, 2009
B., please forgive my lack of people skills in this response. My intention is absolutely meant to be helpful, not insulting...that said, here is my advice: I have 3 children (girl, age 9; boy age 7: and girl almost 3) and I have NEVER had to install a baby gate or waste money on different products to figure out which worked. Instead of child-proofing your house, try house-proofing your children. If you can train a dog to sit, shake, and roll over, then you can certainly teach a child what they are and are not allowed to do. First, carve out a specific time (which is definitely the hardest part of this task for me) and use this time to set up the scenario that you are trying to avoid. When your child(ren) attempt to open the gate, if you choose to keep the gate, then get down to their level and use your "mom voice" (not a happy sing-song voice) and tell the child "YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED WITHOUT MOMMY! DO NOT OPEN THE GATE!" Do this repeatedly every day for just a few minutes at a time. USE TREATS to encourage. If you are a mom that doesn't use candy (I use M&M's sometimes--one at a time and a bag lasts FOREVER!), you can also use the childs favorite crackers or raisins or strawberries. Reward, reward, reward, with showers of praise when your child walks past the gate without trying to break in. You will only have to put a few days into this before it becomes a habit for your child to seek your approval when avoiding what you want them to avoid. I assure you, this process is very successful in teaching any child over the age of 1 for almost any scenario. If you use corporal punishment (aka spanking) in your home, you can also use a small dowdle-rod to deter unwanted behavior. A small "pop" on the hand or back of the leg to give them a sensory reaction. **I do not mean hard enough to hurt, just enough to associate their negative behavior with a negative response...and a positive response (praise or treat) for the positive behavior. Once the lesson is taught and learned, your job as a mom will be so much less stressful overall.
M.H. answers from Birmingham on September 16, 2009
3 possible ideas - 1. Use a regular baby gate that doesn't open if the other children are big enough to climb over it. 2. Use the door knob covers, again if your other kids' hands are big enough to open it 3. Put a hook and eye on the bathroom door - low enogh for the other kids but out of reach for the 2 year old.