Baby Proofing: Where Do I Start?

Updated on October 20, 2011
S.T. asks from Denver, CO
19 answers

OK, so I know I'm probably already behind. But my boy is almost 11 months. He's not crawling (forward) yet, just backwards, and rolls a lot. And kind of scootches and reaches and lunges forward. He's really close to crawling and he's starting to pull himself up onto things. So far All we've done is get the outlet covers for our family room, which is where we always have him. I don't want to be the paranoid first time mom that goes crazy baby-proofing. (I've already wasted enough money on stuff I thought I had to have!) But I of course want to keep him safe. I looked at Baby and their baby-proofing checklist is crazy long. My finger got tired of scrolling down on my mouse before I reached the bottom. What did all you moms do? What are the must-have baby-proofing items? We have a small townhouse. We do have stairs. I was planning on getting gates for the top and bottom of the stairs, and probably getting safety latches for all the cupboards under the sinks. Did you do all the drawer things? The door handle things? I'm getting stressed out thinking about it! The baby safety class I took while pregnant even suggested taking away the dog's water bowl because it's a drowning hazard.

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So What Happened?

Thanks moms. My first thought when standing, awe-stricken, in the "baby safety" aisle at our local Babies R Us was, "wow. do you really need all of this stuff if you just watch your child?" :) I thought I was being a bad mom because I didn't think we needed all of it. Glad to hear others have survived with little to no proofing (dog water bowl and all!) We've started "no" with the outlets. He is really drawn to those. Right now he thinks it's a fun game to hear mom say "no" so he just reaches over and over again to see my reaction. Reach. "no" . . Reach, "Hudson. NO", Reach, "NO" ... Reach, smile... "Mommy said NO" Sigh. Hopefully that will pass.

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answers from Richmond on

Start with the word 'no'... discipline works better than baby proofing... baby proofing just gives them more of a challenge; telling the NO teaches them not to do it, period.

LOL @ drowning in the dog water bowl... I just tried it, didn't die, but made a huge mess, and now my dog thinks I'm crazy!! ;)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We didn't do the latches on the doors. We just moved all of the stuff we didn't want him into into higher cabinets that he couldn't reach.

You will want to block off the dog's food and water.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We did nothing. Other than watch the baby - which seems the most important thing. We have a single floor home - I would have put in a baby gate if we had stairs. We did not do outlet covers - we did not issue pointy metallic objects to my son at that age and (try it) - even a one year old finger will NOT fit in the outlet. We do not keep poison at floor level - but mostly we taught my son the word poison and what Mr Yuk looks like. We do have our bookshelves anchored to the wall - but that is just a generally good idea. By the time he was old enough to reach the stove - he was old enough to understand hot and no.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I watched them when they became mobile. If I could not teach them something was off limits only then did I baby proof. As it is I only put a gate at the top of our open stairs. Those little buggers don't seem to have good balance for the longest time.

Okay just caught the water bowl thing. I challenge anyone here to find me even one case of a baby drowning in a water bowl!!! I double dog dare you!!

Rachel your dog already thought you were crazy, this time he took a picture so he would have proof. :p

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We just locked the lower cabinets with cleaning products and put outlet covers on the wall sockets. Honestly we could have not covered the outlets but it was cheaper to buy the latches with the covers as a set. Go figure. We also secured furniture to the walls.

I agree with Jo about the water bowl thing. What utter nonsense unless you are watering with a horse trough. For goodness sake. Our little one is almost 10 months old and nearly walking so he very, very mobile. He joyfully flings the dog water bowl with about two cups of water all over the dining room, himself and the Pug. Neither the baby nor the Pug has drowned yet and truthfully I don't even get a flutter of concern. In fact next time I am thinking about tossing some soap into the bowl to help wash the dog.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

We had gates on the stairs, just at the top. They didn't stay there long because she quickly learned to navigate steps safely. That's really all we did. I would check for anything that could fall if he is pulling up on it - bookcases or anything else heavy. These could be secured to the wall. Move things that are obvious poisons or dangers. BTW - For a child to electrocute themself with a power outlet, they would have to stick something metal in BOTH sides of the outlet at the same time... Oh, and they will eat the cat/dog food and splash in the water, so you might want to move those.

But mostly, at this stage, accept that you won't hardly have time to sit down all day. You will be following him around to be sure he is not getting into trouble! This is when I lost the last 5 lbs of baby weight!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You might want to pick up the dog dishes only because kids see the dogs eating/drinking out of them and try to imitate - it's just kind of gross to see your child eating dog food or drinking from the dog's water dish! I would not necessarily get the door handle things for all the doors, but I would put one on the bathroom door which should always remain closed until baby is old enough not to play in the bathroom. Children can fall into the toilet while trying to reach the water and drown. I would only really put safety latches on the cupboards/drawers that have dangerous items like forks, knives, etc. I always had a cupboard and a drawer in my kitchen with lids and plastics that the children were allowed to play in. That way they are less interested in the ones that are latched. You should also walk around the house looking for hanging cords, like for window blinds or drapes. Make sure that they are secured at the top and bottom so your child cannot wrap the cords around their necks. One other thing would be to get the corner covers that you can put on the corners of tables. That's all I can think of for now. They say you should yourself crawl around the house and see it from the level of your child so you can see exactly what they see and then take care of any dangerous conditions.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I honestly did not BUT I am always around my kids... They are never alone in the kitchen or bathroom. I just put things up higher that theey cant have.. i would say get down on your hands and knees and if their is something out of the ordinary (table legs for a wobbly table, outlets, drawers) i babyproofed at the lever my kids were at... i hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

all we did was outlet covers, portable safety gates and i latched the cabinets under the sink where the chemicals for cleaning are....granted we have no coffee table anymore because it was rectangle and glass....but we didnt do all that stuff and our kids are fine now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have a daycare home, so much of mine is required stuff, but when my own daughter was little, it was not a daycare home (until she was 3 years old). For cabinet locks I love the magnetic ones. PITA to install, but you can put anything in those cabinets and can set them on "unlock" for when its not needed (like the morning rush and baby is not in the bathroom, etc)I wouldn't use on drawers...but cabinets with cleaners, baggies, etc if they are not up high. We actually had a large large dog at that time, so had gates to keep him and his 160 pound muddy feet in the kitchen/entry we just did the gates when we cooked or wanted the child out of the kitchen (rather than the drawer and cabinet locks). We had the magnetic ones on the few cabinets in the bathroom as we had no where else in there to put cleaners, medicines and shampoos, etc.

Gates at the steps. I love the anchored/mounted wooden looking ones that you unlatch and walk thru (one handed). I HATE plastic gates and pressure mounted ones even more as they ruin walls. My best defense was gates!

As others said, watch for things that need anchoring, put collectables up higher, be careful with plants (even if not poisonous, the dirt mess is awful to clean up!).

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

We have an 11 month old and this is what we use: Outlet covers in any outlets that he can get to, baby gates to the kitchen entrances (easier than putting safety latches on all cupboards, stove, etc.). We keep the bathroom door shut, so we don't worry about a toilet lock etc. We have recently bought drawer/cupboard locks for his dresser because he can know open them easily since they are on rollers (he is a climber and I an worried that he will figure out how to climb the drawers). Other than that, you just have to make sure that things are out of his reach. We don't keep anything on our end tables in the living room and the bottom two shelves in our bookshelf are his stuff not ours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think its a matter of your child's disposition and your own. Our DS is one, he's been an active baby from the start. Long before he was walking, he would climb up the sofa, stand on the window sills, hold onto the window gates, and pull the face off the window airconditioning unit (you see, active).
We secured the TV to the wall, put latches on the trash cabinet and cleaning supply cabinet, and corner protectors on the end tables and coffee table.

He likes opening and closing drawers, cupboards, doors, and fiddling with light switches. He has worked out that the doorknob is how to open doors, and is desperate to work them himself. He can open and close the toilet seat, and has even found his way into the bathtub and worked the taps. The dog water bowl is a big favorite of his for splashing, overturning, and spilling.

We'll re-evaluate whether more baby proofing is in order in a few months time when he gains height, strength, and even more resolve. Hopefully, he'll also gain some restraint, after many rounds of "no" and re-direction.

Good luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

The only things I've baby proofed are the outlet covers, and latches on the cabinets. My older one never messed with the drawers in the kitchen or bathrooms so we never needed locks or latches for those. My youngest just turned a year old and still those are the only things we have baby proofed. Oh, we do have one of those covers on our basement doorknob so the kids can't open it and go flying down the stairs. I just keep bathroom doors closed all day so the baby can't get in there and any other room I don't want her in.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We dont have stairs but the gates are a great idea. The only thing we have is the outlet covers. The others are silly in my eyes. I only use/make all natural cleaners so I dont have to hid those from my boys. We just tell them no and move them away from the "dangerous" areas. They have to learn boundaries.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would do the gates on stairs, hook on cabinets and get the lock for the fridge.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

We put outside locks ( around the handles) on the one cupboard under the sink where the cleaners are. A lock over the bathroom handle to keep out of the bathroom and that's it.

If you go with gates get the one that is mounted to the wall they are so much better!! But we stopped using gates because it was more of a hazard my kids trying to climb over the gate than teaching them about steps. I didn't move anything higher or close up any other cupboard doors or drawers. The bottom drawer was filled with things they could play with and even though I got tired of picking up pans they pulled out it kept them entertained while cooking. The cords I did try to hide behind or under things.. but pretty much taught them that they are owies and not to touch them. I guess I feel the sooner (younger) they learn what they can and can't touch the sooner they loose interest with it and wont mess with it. Yes it can be a stressful and annoying time, but once you start to unproof the house they become so interested in it and your back to square one.

Good luck!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Use L-brackets and attach the bookshelves to the walls in the studs. That way if he starts climbing they can't fall over on him, also attach each shelf to the actual case using L-brackets too. I just use 4 of the much smaller ones under each shelf. That is the most important one other that keeping the bathroom door sealed with a door knob protector. A woman came up to me when my daughter was a newborn and told me of her 18 month old son drowning in the toilet. So keep all water and spigots out of reach by keeping that door sealed so he can't get in until he's potty trained.



answers from Miami on

Please don't feel behind. stores are about marketing. while i believe in babyproofing, much of it is intuitive based on your lifestyle and style of parenting:

We focused on corners and sharp edges on tables...and also ensuring things like knives and scissors not in easy reach. The other thing is hot drinks ... to keep hands distance away on the coffee table.

hth. jilly



answers from Denver on

I am on baby #4 and have not baby proofed yet. I had better luck with teaching them what they can and cannot do. Two of my kids were able to pull the baby plugs guards out of the outlet, one was able to open the gate all before they were walking, another one was able to get out of his crib by the age of one. Now, I am not suggesting you not be safe, I just found that each kid has their thing. Some of them will not leave the stairs alone, so obviously get a gate, others just keep digging in the cupboards so baby proof the cupboard that has dangerous items in it.

In short, logic works best, and really how much is he alone and not monitored by you. My guess is pretty much never. Just get what you need as you need it.

Good luck!

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