Childproofing, Creative Solutions

Updated on June 27, 2012
J.L. asks from Brainerd, MN
19 answers

My son is nearly 15 months old and our daughter is due to arrive in October, so I'm really trying to get our place as "Weston"-proofed as possible. We installed the basic latches in the kitchen cabinets. He very quickly figured those out. So far I've just been trying to teach him to stay out of specific cabinets. We go through cycles where he tries hard for a few days, gives up for a few days and then slowly starts back at it again. We've been doing this for months so he's a tad persistent. He's always had a double cabinet with kid-friendly tupperware and bowls, but that doesn't satisfy his curiosity. The cabinets don't have knobs and we rent so I doubt the landlord would be OK with installing knobs. I've looked into the magnetic locks and I bet they work great but they're expensive. It looks like we'd be spending a fortune to cover all the cabinets and drawers. Oh yeah, he can now reach into drawers too. :P The best solution I can think of is to install another latch next to the first one and hope he can't figure out how to do two at the same time. Has anyone tried that??? I need to figure out something so I can nurse the new baby without hopping up to stop him from throwing oatmeal around and can shower in peace knowing he's not pulling out dad's shaving cream. Also, I'm thinking bungee cords are the best options to keep him from shoving dining chairs out and climbing onto the table???

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So What Happened?

Gating off the kitchen is just not an option. I envy people who can. I would have to get a gate that's about 14 feet long and then his play area would be cut in half. I wish I had more space to store everything that's not safe for him, but I sadly don't have much storage in general. My upper cabinets are plumb full. I think our best bet might be to put another latch along the side of the cabinet door, if it'll work that way. Then maybe get a small set of magnetic locks for the really dangerous cabinets. After 5 months of consistently teaching him to stay out, it's time to bring in the reinforcements. Of all my years of babysitting and nannying, I've never ever had a child be so persistent!

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answers from San Francisco on

I never used cabinet latches. I kept everything sharp and/or breakable up high. Do you have upper cabinets? If yes, I would just do a little rearranging. Glasses, plates, china, knives up above, plastic, pots/pans, linens/towels down below.
I kept my kitchen cleaning supplies in a pretty basket on top of the fridge, and my bathroom cleaning supplies on the top shelf of the linen closet.
I think you'll find a little creative organizing goes a long way, and it's a lot easier and more attractive than installing a bunch of extra hardware :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

LMBO! Thank you for reminding me that I did, indeed, used to have to rope my chairs to my kitchen table!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

Our oldest was an "explorer," too. He got into everything, mastered childproofing products and climbed onto tables. What I found worked best was to just put him in a Pack n Play when I needed to get something done. He was contained there and couldn't outsmart me and get into trouble. We also moved things to higher cabinets so that the items in the lower ones weren't fragile or dangerous.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

We have NO childproofing gadgets, save for those electrical plug ins.

Instead of saying "no" whenever our 16mo touches/opens/tries to get something we don't want him to - we say "Not for ChildName".

Took about a week, but it works wonders. He will push the boundaries every so often, but one "Not for ChildName", and he turns around and walks away!

Of course, we picked up the breakables, but for the most part we realized that thousands of generations survived without the cabinet locks and other stuff.

Also, I let him explore. He gets into the tupperware and pots and pans regularly. We let him. Takes 2 minutes to pick it back up, and in the meantime he's happily play cooking (kinda like daddy play-cooks).

The only thing we've considered getting are the toilet lid holder downers - because of the expense of getting toys out of the plumbing.

And congrats! We're expecting too - in about 2 weeks! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Can you gate off your kitchen? There are some great gates for wide areas--Retract-a-gate and playyards that open up to form a long wall with a gate.

WIth my son, I taught him not to sit at the table and grab at things. I told him he had to bring his own toy to play with at the table. That was something we worked on a lot and eventually he got it.

We had a problem with my son and tall counter chairs. We just got rid of them until we can make the counter a place that is safe for him.

Maybe remove any extra chairs until he learns about the table?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

We did no childproofing (with the exception of anchoring heavy bookshelves to the walls, which we had done anyway). We put the poisons in the garage (locked), things we didn't want him to get into high up and just distracted him. When he wanted to play with things in the pantry - we did it together. For a while 'smells' was his favorite game - that was smelling various spices and foods in the pantry. I showered before DS woke up in the morning. If that wasn't possible, I took him into the bathroom with me. Instead of telling him no, we told him what he could do - instead of 'no climbing on the chair', I would say - climbing is for outside, let's go climb outside. You might want to consider a sling so you can wear your newborn and keep up with the toddler.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

let him play with daddy's shaving cream on occassion? my daughters pre-k always put it on the table for kids to play in and it worked at makig the table smell good=) aside from chemicals being stored up high (we did the inner locks on two cabinets with the chemicals and that worked for us) and the outlet clear plugs we didnt do anything else.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I like this question...I wonder about it all the time too.

When my daughter started to walk and open cabinets and draws, we initially tried the stick-on latches, but I grew tired of buying so many of them. And more, they became dangerous. How - the brat figured she can try and gently pull them open, and they did open for a small crack (about 2-3mm), just enough for her to put her fingers in and get them caught or pinched. No harm actually happened (thankfully!), but we immediately decided to go for a different approach.
Gates! We live in a rental apartment and had constraints with hardware mounted ones. We got a pressure mounted gate and initially fixed it in her room. She didn't like it much, but survived. But I couldn't keep her in her room the whole day, and so, we got another gate for the kitchen (hoorah!), and switched the gate on her door, to our room's door. This way - the kitchen and our room were out of access, and she had free access to her room.
Right now, she'll be 2 in 3-4 months, and am wondering how and when do I start doing away with all these gadgets, and get her to understand discipline totally. That's an entirely another question... <sigh>!!
Good luck to you! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I do home child care so am required by licensing to have all sorts of mechanisms to lock every blasted thing up. But this is for safety when one person is caring for several children at once. I get that.

I can tell you that gates are heaven sent. If you are going to be there for a long time, ask your landlord about the hardware mounted gates instead of the pressure ones. The pressures ones REALLY can destroy a doorway. The hardware ones will put a few holes in that can be much more easily fixed later. Containment can be your friend for your own peace of mind as you cook (opening the oven with 2 small children playing about the home...or consider having to hop in the shower, while something is in the oven maybe?? I dunno??)

The other thing is the magnetic locks you spoke of. They can be spendy, but if you prioritize and combine items in cabinets, you would not need so many. Do like others said...set the kitchen and bathrooms up so towels and things are down low, so if your children do get thru the simple cheap tot locks, its not the end of the world, just some cleaning up.

Then get a few magnetic locks for areas like under the sink where the garbage and cleaning supplies are. If you have a cabinet filled with plastic wraps and tin foils and baggies (wraps have very sharp edges, etc) use the mag locks. The magnetic locks I recommend are the "Safety 1st Tot Lok" sets. They run about $10-$12 for a set of 2 locks with one key. Don't lose your keys! You can buy extras!

They really can offer some peace of mind. When my own daughter was little (until she was 3 years old) I did not do home daycare, so we only had a few of the push down locks (mostly so she would not open where the garbage was to allow the dog free reign, and the one where the cat and dog food was kept....I think they had deals going!!!). But after I started daycare, the rules were easier to follow with these magnetic locks. I am able to keep my household items exactly where I want them to be (rather than moving them all to up high places, etc). I just flip the locks to their "locked" position every morning during my workday, then to "unlocked" at night and on weekends for my family time (no small kids of my own so no worries after hours). Also, we have no knobs on any of our cabinets anywhere in the house (and we had a cabinet maker pal add tons of built ins for my daycare room and in other places in the home so I can put my job away after hours and no one needs to look at it! Plus he did a lot of barter deals with hubby over the years...he got car mechanic and snowmobile mechanic work..we got lovely cabinets and a cedar chest!)

As far as things like the table. Just repetition and learning. Who wants bungee cords all over. Besides those can ruin your chairs just by rubbing against them. The other stuff is more about sharp items and poison items to me.

Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

-Gates (try using the pressure ones so you don't have to install hardware)
-put all chemicals up above where he can't reach
-don't leave anything dangerous in cabinets that are down below like
under the sink etc. I moved everything just to be safe. It worked & was
not a big deal.
-I, also, taught him not to touch/play with certain things explaining
the harm in can cause. I explain injury & hospital to him. ;)
-Can you try to take a shower when he is till asleep? If not, for now you
could bring a playpen into the bathroom (they even have ones w/a mesh
covering....they call it a tent) while you quickly shower?
-put certain loose foods (like the oatmeal) up high where he can't reach it
-you can put dangerous kitchen tools up higher out of his reach but where
you can see/reach them
-when they are this young you can proof most things then as he gets
older you can teach him not to touch or get into things. The development
will be there at that time.
-maybe try using 2 latches per cabinet
-move scissors & knives where he can't reach them

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Instead of containing your stuff, can you contain/ exclude your kid?
How about a sturdy gate on the kitchen.
In a pinch, we can put ours in the stroller or in the crib or his highchair and give him a game with lights and buttons, put on a video, or some crayons and paper. Set the containment device outside or even in the bathroom, so you can keep an eye on him when you shower.
The only real way to shower in peace is when he has other adult supervision.

By all means try the bungee cords. They didn't work for us. In fact they proved more of a hazard than the chairs and climbing would. He tugged on the legs of the chairs and managed to upend them, then would tug on the slack of the bungee cords, and try to clothesline himself, or swing on it. We keep the dining table clear of stuff so its less attractive, but climbing on it alone is incentive enough. Hope this was somewhat helpful.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Little ones don't need to be in the kitchen unsupervised, and since you can't gate the kitchen off get a gated enclosure that keeps him inside (even if it cuts off some of his play area) where he can play with things that are safe and not get to anything else. Especially if you want to be able to nurse your baby without worrying what he is up to or have him climbing on the table. Buy extensions if you need to make it bigger, remember, your second child can use it later on as well. Something like this:

At 15 months his days of exploration and persistence are far from over, best to keep him safe, you can't undo an accident. My 3 year old still stretches and reaches up on the kitchen island, not seeing anything but pulling down whatever he can grab hold of so we keep it pretty bare when not in use, you have years of prevention ahead of you between your son and your new baby. Splurge on safety now because the impulse control won't be coming soon.



answers from Philadelphia on

Those latches usually don't work well. When we had the triplets we fixed the entire kitchen with one thing.... a gate! There are pressure gates so they won't have to be installed with holes, and there are longer pressure gates for wider doorways. The Tall Gate worked great for us. Put outlet covers on everything, wires wrapped and behind furniture, gates and the top and bottom of stairs and on the kitchen and any other rooms. If doors and entry doors are easy for him to open they have alarms you can put on them. I just put one on one of my son's doors for night time since he's too big for a gate.They're cheap enough $8-14 for a twin pack. They have latches for doors you can put up high to keep him out of the bathroom or your bedroom.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets



answers from Madison on

I would only recommend at least asking if you can install knobs. When we rented, we did and it wasn't a problem at all. Then, good old fashioned rubber bands to keep them close work well.

Congrats on #2!



answers from Raleigh on

Yep gate would be the answer!!!!!!!! If you have an open floor plan , they sell some that mount to the wall and are very long(a friend of mine has one that goes from one wall in her living room to the other)



answers from Providence on

I don't believe in it... if the same products could be used for your "child proofing" as for dog proofing (same gate, different name), then you shouldn't do it.



answers from Minneapolis on

I bungeed my dining chairs together when my stinker was little. Worked like a charm. I remember feeling so victorious for outsmarting an 18 month old, when I came up with that one.

No guess on the cabinets, we were able to use a gate at our place.



answers from Washington DC on

The cabinets - do you have the inside latches you need to push with your thumb or are they the ones that go around the handles? If you have the thumb ones, consider more than one per drawer and not next to each other. I would invest in magnetic ones for odd-shaped or important (knife drawer) ones. Anywhere you can put a hook up high you might also consider that. They also make latches for fridges and stoves and glass front cabinets that are easy to install but hard to get off. We put a door knob cover on the inside of DD's door so she can't get out.

The other thing is, sometimes you just need to work really hard at teaching them not to get into stuff. My SD popped the stove knob covers off as soon as they were installed so she had to learn stove = hot. Good luck!

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