My Little Explorer Can Undo All Our Childproofing - Help!

Updated on August 23, 2009
J.B. asks from Nashville, TN
10 answers

Hello Moms! Ok, so my 22 month old son is now able to unlock the doors to our house and lift up the child gates - as of this week! He must have hit a growth spurt because it seemed just a week ago he couldn't reach. Well We have the plastic covers that go on the door handles that work for the most part, but he's learned that if he hangs on them a bit, they'll snap off. Also, we live in a 2 story house and have a gate at the bottom of the stairs (a wooden Kolcraft gate) and one in his room since he's now in a toddler bed. He can reach over and lift up the handles now. He's okay with stairs but I don't want him wandering around our upstairs alone - besides, I really don't want him testing out the stairs on his own either. I say 'on his own' because I have a 7 week old baby that I have to tend to as well and cannot be following my toddler's every move. What did you moms do? When is it a good age to trust him a little and let him explore the house unsupervised? Ever? Also, I liked that he was 'contained' in his room by the gate at bedtime, since I think he'd never fall asleep if he had the freedom to roam. My biggest fear is that he'll wake one night and unlock our doors and leave the house! Thanks in advance for advice and suggestions!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Wheeling on

My son hit this stage early.
For a while, doubling up on the gates (stacking two of them per door way) worked--- until he realized he could reach through the little fencing and undo them that way.

We finally ended up putting simple alarms on all the doors and windows in the house. (These cost about a dollar each and often come in multi-packs.) They simply stick on to the surface---for example, we stick one side of it on the door and the other side on the door frame-and there's a basic on/off switch.

Now we can hear when he moves from room to room in the house and we can often check on him. This is especially useful when he tries to get up in the middle of the night. An alarm goes off and one of us can get up to see what he's trying to do--- normally it's going to the bathroom--- but we've also had issues with him getting in the fridge and pantry.

Other than that, your best bet is to minimize how much you own, put simple hook and eye latches on doors that he shouldn't be using ever (such as outdoor doors, closets, etc...) and install anti-tip devices on all shelving/dressers/and climbable objects.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on


My daughter is 21 months and she knew how to get out of the gates at 14 months so we just took them all down. She knew how to get up and down the stairs and if she didn't want to walk she would crawl down. She hasn't unlocked the doors yet but that problem will be solved by locking the dead bolts on the door.

You just have to give your son a little more indepedence. As for the gate at his bed room you could always close the door and switching the lock on the outside of the door so he won't be able to get out and wonder around the house without your knowledge. Again this has worked well with my my daughter. I hope this helps.



answers from Raleigh on

We have 2 boys who are 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and I so remember those days. Our youngest is still in the crib with tent, we tried taking it down couple times but even the room roaming was 2 hours ordeal before he would fall asleep.They too could take those cheap handle covers before they turned 2, but these worked better for us
With gates, we have always used Safety 1st hands free and our oldest just now figured out how to open it. I have absolutely everything childproof . When boys play upstairs by themselves I have bathrooms locked . You can not trust boys:). One time our oldest was playing upstairs with his friend who was 7, they got playdough out of the toy closet and got it all over the carpet.Our son knew that we do not play with playdough upstairs,but boys sometimes do not think, or forget or something......:)



answers from Huntington on

My son just turned two and I also have a 4 month old, and we were in this same situation just a couple months ago. Our solution was to put a chain latch up high on the front door so he can't escape while I'm feeding the baby. We didn't have to go this far, but there are also little alarms you can buy to put on doors so you can hear if they're opened or closed (can be turned off when you know someone is coming, but then on if your son is roaming or at night).
You might want to try a different type of gate that is harder to open and put it on the door frame of his room at night. That way you don't have to worry about it being certified for the top of stairs, but it will keep him in his room.
As far as the bottom of the stairs, it probably is best that he is allowed to go up and down on his own by this point during the day. We didn't have a gate at the bottom of our stairs at all, only at the top, so he could practice going up since he was able to crawl. It has worked out well for us, and he is very good at the stairs now.



answers from Nashville on

Your little explorer sounds challenging. He is seeing how things are put together and figuring them out. You may have to install locks higher up on all the doors that only adults can reach, when you are out of sight. Alarm system may not be a bad idea either.they don't have to be expensive to work! You can also get alarms with sensors. Good luck.



answers from Louisville on

Your son is old enough to know what he can and can not touch around the house. He is old enough to know he can't leave the house without permission. He should know not to go in the street. My daughter is 2 and has had free rain with no problems.



answers from Fayetteville on

As far as the outside doors go, invest in a chain lock that he can't reach. So be it if he opens it and squishes his hand once. He'll learn.
My son was a very strong, curious little one as well. He once flipped his legs out of his crib and slid down the side. I would never have believed it, but I saw it with my own eyes! LOL
You can always use a big piece of furniture like a short book shelf to block any stairs or door that you want him to stay away from until you find a stronger gate. Just make sure to turn the shelving side away from him so he can't climb.
Sorry to say, but watching him like a hawk is the only way to ensure his safety. Good luck, I know how trying it is!



answers from Raleigh on

we had to put locks on the tops of our doors where he couldn't reach after my son escaped and walked a 1/4 mile up the highway (while I rocked my colic infant to sleep). He was safetly returned by the fire dept after calling 911...and we had a dead bolt and the crappy safety forst door handle covers, but he got right past them. for our sliding door, we put a tension rod out of reach to keep it locked. if he is opening inside doors, make sure you take extreme measures to lock up the exterior doors, you know what is inside your home, but not what is outside it! Take it from me, that was the longest 20 minutes of my life waiting to get him back...hopeing I would! Also, try lifting thr baby gates up a few inches so they are higher and he can't reach right over them, but not so high that he can slip under. nothing worked for us, and with an infant and an escape artist and 2 flights of stairs, we finially had to put a lock on the outside of his door... not safe in case of a fire, but i think it is the same as a baby gate as far as locking him in his room. i would rather risk him being locked in his room in the rare event of a fire then falling down the stairs in the inevitable chance that he gets out in the middle of the night. good luck though, i know what your going through and nothing seems to work, and what does seems extreme!



answers from Washington DC on

Yes, watch him closely and maybe invest in new and different gates (maybe something requiring two hand operations). However, don't underestimate the power of discipline! In my line of work we talk about the Three E's - Engineering, Education, and Enforcement.

Engineering - gates!
Education - Teach him to hold the railing, to not play at the top of stairs, to not touch chemicals, etc.
Enforcement - Punish him for disobeying

I don't know you, and clearly you teach your child safety rules, but now may be the time to really lay down the law. "DO NOT go downstairs without Mommy!" and have consequences. Up to now, gates have worked. Now you need to focus on internalizing these rules for him.

Keep in mind, if he is this adept at 22 months, he may soon climb over gates making them less safe. So, you may want to let him open the ones he can, but leave them up to prevent accidental trips and falls in case he is playing at the top of the stairs.

Also, do what I call "Round 2" babyproofing. Move things higher (chemicals and medicines) and install better higher locks on outside doors and dangerous closets.

Good luck!



answers from Raleigh on

Hey J.,
I guess my son was around 2 years old when he started exploring more. I guess it was around this age that we let him go at will a little more around the house. We have a house full of stairs, and we gated for a while, but found that he discovered his limits by learning on his own. Our gates have been down for a long time now. Sure he took a spill once or twice on the stairs, but if it happens, he will learn quickly to hold the hand rail, take small steps, etc. We never put safety devices on doors or anything like that- just made sure power exposed power outlets were covered, any dangerous chemicals were put up, etc. Get down on his level and look around. Anything that is questionable should be removed.
I would also turn on a baby monitor and listen downstairs while he was upstairs. Put it in a central place- like a hallway- where everything can be heard. As for leaving the house- do you have deadbolts on your house doors? Or do you have a screen/glass door with locks? Lock them all! The deadbolts are out of reach usually, and my soon to be 3 year old still hasn't figured out how to unlock the glass door lock. Take care!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches