Stressing Out About Childproofing. Advice?

Updated on August 15, 2011
L.B. asks from New Rochelle, NY
19 answers

I live in a very small, cramped apartment that was my husband's before we got married. For years, he has been promising me we will move and then something comes up and he changes his mind. (It's cheap, btw, so it has something going for it.) Now he says we can move in February, when our baby will be 14 months. So I guess that means I should go ahead and fully childproof, but with such a small space, I don't know what to do! I have put as much stuff into a storage unit as I can, but I can't get rid of or store everything! Moms with small living spaces, please tell me how you did it. Did you make the whole place kid friendly? Or did you have to resort to a playpen or extensive gates? Locking cupboards, toilet, and covering outlets seems pretty easy. But how about...

1) Lamps... We have ALL floor lamps that can be pulled over. Get rid of them? Replace with what? Keep baby away?

2) Open shelves galore.... If it's a VERY large, sturdy bookcase, do you still have to anchor it to the wall? I would happily do it, but I need to find a handyman to do it for me, because I am afraid of just wrecking the plaster walls. What stuff did you moms anchor?

3) Window guards? When and in what situations are they necessary? We co-sleep now, so I doubt he will be getting near a window anytime soon without me knowing it.

And last of all, if you have no room for anything... fans, vacuum cleaners, stereo unit, so they are all out in easily accessible spaces, and there isn't enough closet space, what did you do? The only spot in my whole place big enough for the baby to play is my LR, so I'm concentrating on that. Even his room has only a couple square feet open space, and that's where there's a fan, humidifier, etc. nearby.

Where do I start?!

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

Featured Answers


answers from Milwaukee on

I just watch what each kid gets into and go from there. DS #1 was a climber so I anchored stuff to the wall, DD did not touch or get into anything so I did not childproof for her. DS #2 is into more so for sanity sake I put those things on the door knobs and he only has access to a few rooms. I also put the things on the kitchen cabinets so that he would not make a mess every other minute. With the floor laps and fans I have always just told them no. I have had to catch the floor lamp mid-air before, but now he has gotten it (age 2). I still have to remind him not to stick his fingers in the fan.

So do what you need to do each stage and leave the rest.



answers from Chicago on

Wow, I am going through the baby-proofing stage myself now, and like you say I am bowled by some of the big obvious things, wondering what I can really do about floor lamps and such.
Can't wait to follow up on what answers other moms come up with for you!
Good luck... :)

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Maybe I'm the wrong one to ask, but we didn't do any of those things. When a baby starts being mobile, you really have to be in view always. Then, you redirect when they get close to trouble, and you teach them the word "no".

I would check for bookcases or other obvious large things that could be pulled down, but our house has lamps, shelves, windows, etc. and baby lived among all. We never locked cupboards, or toilets, or anything else that I remember. We had gates on our stairs, but only for a short time. Soon baby learns how to climb stairs safely.

Addition: there have been several terrible window accidents in my city lately. So if your apartment is 2nd floor or higher, I would be sure your windows are secured. These accidents have involved window screens that can be pushed out by the weight of a toddler falling against them. So, depending on the placement of your windows, that is something I would be concerned about and checking for.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Here's my hindsight advice: Do a small amount of proactive childproofing like outlet covers, put cleaning solution and medications out of reach, put breakables up high or away. After that do reactive childproofing. What I mean by that is, you don't know ahead of time what no no items your child will latch onto, and which ones they won't even notice and you may or may not already have an idea of whether you can get by with discipline or whether your child is a spirited pain in the you know where. So take it as it comes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I have never childproofed my house beyond a gate at the top of the steps because we have an open stairwell. In my opinion childproofing is lazy, you should be watching your kids and teaching them what they can or cannot do.

I get that you cannot have eyes on your kid 24/7 but if you are allowing enough time for a kid to bend down the middle two tines of the fork and stuff it in a socket, you have some serious issues. Then again most people don't know you cannot connect the circuit by stuffing something in one side of an outlet but I digress.

Just watch him, and teach him not to climb the boxes, don't gnaw on the cords, and make yucky faces about cleaning stuff or move it up high.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm so happy to read all the responses because I always thought I was in the minority on this!
All I ever really did was put the plastic outlet covers on, and I kept the chemicals and cleaning supplies in a cabinet above the fridge. I also made sure the knives were out of reach.
As others have said, it's important for them to learn "no" and "don't touch." Plus being in a smaller space is actually better, it's even easier to keep an eye on him.
The only other thing I would suggest is making sure you don't have any long dangling window cords that he could get wrapped around his neck, and if you are not on the ground floor put childproof locks on the windows.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We didn't necessarily child proof our home because there were things they weren't going to be able to touch at someone else's house so we showed them what they could touch or look at versus TOUCH....

It's worked well for us...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Always use L brackets on top of your bookshelves and anchor them to the wall. Then use smaller L brackets and anchor each shelf. I have no handy man skill and was able to do it myself. I just had to learn how to find a stud...a wooden one not a man.

I have a rule, toys in the living room get time out. If you want to be constantly picking up and making the house presentable in case someone drops by then it doesn't matter but if you keep the toys in her room, or a play area, she will stay in there mostly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Each child is different so I say take it as it comes. My first child needed no child proofing at all, she never got into anything. My second child was a bit more curious about many things but in our small space it was easy to keep an eye on him. I agree that a small space may actually work to your advantage as it will be easier to monitor. Do what you think needs to be done, (ex. if he seems drawn to the outlets, put the protective covers on). Don't freak out and do all the child proofing available or you and your husband will be annoyed with it quickly. Just do what you need to.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

the only child proofing we've ever done was switching out all chemical cleaners for natural, non-toxic cleaning supplies. You really just have to watch your baby constantly and teach them what they can and can't do as you go along--if you 100% baby proof your house, your child will get a false sense of security and probably get into lots of trouble whenever you go anywhere outside of your baby-proofed home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Other moms might think I am crazy, but I dont childproof. I have 3 kids, the youngest is 17 months. The only bit of childproofing we did was to put those annoying plastic plugs in the electrical outlets, in their bedroom. Thats about it.

I'm believe that a child should be taught what they can and cannot touch. If I dont teach the kids what they can and cannot play with, who will?

What happens when a child that is always surrounded my child proofing goes to Grandma's house? Suddenly drawers can be opened and chemicals are out for them to play with? My kids know that certain things are off limits b/c they cause boo-boos.

With all that said, it also depends on the child. My first 2 werent nearly as inquisitive as my 3rd. If you think that your child would benefit from extra safe guarding, go ahead and secure whatever you think is dangerous.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Part of it, IMO, is teaching the baby. And part of it is finding out what your kid gets into. My DD is not a climber, but she'll open drawers. She has access to the tupperware in the lowest drawer, but all the others have locks. She has no access to medicines. Rather than babyproof the bathroom, we shut it. We keep her in her room with a safety knob on the inside so she can't turn it. We bought but never really used our oven lock. We did get outlet covers and stove knob covers and 3 gates. It's not pretty, but it's practical - get one of those large gates that's basically a huge playpen. You can cordon off a lot of space that way and keep baby out of the Christmas tree, the DVDs, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I did little to nothing to 'childproof' my home. My son is 3 and still alive. How? Well I watched him. I taught him. I told him what was okay and not okay. I bought no special locks or corner protectors or toilet locks. Maybe my kid wasn't the curious kind. I dunno. I do remember our tall floor-lamp falling down a few times, but it was very light-weight and no big deal. Noone was hurt. Nothing broke. I wouldn't fret or fuss if I were you. You will forsee problems once your child starts crawling. You can't predict what the kiddo will get into until then. And you don't neeed to stress and over-do it IMO.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I am also a non-babyproofer. I mean of course, to a degree, but not really. I don't use gates. Before I had kids I thought oh sure I'll use those, but honestly, they get in my way and I'd rather teach my kids how to use stairs appropriately. Both my kids were very skilled on the stairs at early ages and suffered no major injuries from it! I move stuff off of shelves and tables that can be broken or can harm the child, but I still have breakable stuff and furniture that is not anchored to the wall.

I agree that first you have to figure out what your kid is into. My son is so much into buttons...he will change the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer while they are in cycle or he will start them up. UGH! So, I popped the knob of my dishwasher and use the childrpoof settings on the other and that problem is solved. I also just taped the door to our entertainment center shut b/c he kept opening it and turning off the cable box. So, yes, this is childproofing, but I don't think you need to start out by buying a whole bunch of products and going crazy about it.

Things like vacuums, etc. are easily accessible to my kids and sometimes they go for it and others they don't. With toddlers you're more likely to see them fixate on one item for a month or so and then move onto something else. By that time whatever the previous thing was doesn't hold much allure for them, so it's "safe" now.

If your child turns out to be a climber, then yeah, nail that bookcase to the wall, but just wait and see. Of course you'll be with them or in the next room but they can climb in a second and that thing will come tumbling down...but if your kiddo has no interest in it except for tossing all the books to the floor, don't worry about it.

Anyway, this is a long answer for basically saying, don't stress, wait and then see what the big issues are!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My child-proofing is more about making sure that drawers don't have chokeable items towards the front and that no baby is ever alone long enough to ransack those drawers. I believe children need to learn what they can and can't do. I don't put cleaners or medicines in reach of baby. But no baby should be left alone often enough to hit the toilet more than once or twice. If they are bent on it for awhile we'll put a gate in the bathroom doorway.

I don't believe in keeping lamps, coffee tables, and lots of furniture out in the open around babies. I'd maybe put a few things in storage or make sure they are in your bedroom if needed. But I honestly believe that the more child-proofing people do the more of a false sense of security they get. No parent should be sleeping while the child is awake and no child should be out of site at this age.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I lived in a TINY 700 sq feet apartment with 2 children for 4 YEARS! 3rd floor too, not easy.

So, we did use childproof gates to keep them out of the kitchen. I still childproofed sockets and put locks on cabinet doors. Window guards, yes, do it. Anchor the bookcase, do it or at least move the bookcase into your bedroom or something very out of the way. my nephew pulled tv on him and had to go to the hospital, not good.

Floor lamps, get rid of them, or put them behind a couch or something where baby can't reach. They aren't really dangerous, but annoying as anything when constantly being knocked over.

Breakables, glass, tools, medications, and cleaners all need to be put up high. Some children are okay with bot getting into all the cabinets. I have plenty friend who had no need to childproof lock those. But I did, so just gage your child.

Basically what we did, was put everything dangerous or heavy in our bedroom. We co-slept as well, but aside from sleeping baby never came into our bedroom since it wasn't as childproofed as the main living area.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We all want to keep our children safe, however, I think your going way overboard.

I made sure the chemicals and medicines were out of reach. There is a lock on the door leading to the basement. We shortened the long cords to the blinds. We removed the lock on the bathroom door after my daughter locked herself in the bathroom. That's all the child proofing I did. My in-laws put up a safety gate on the stairs and removed some expensive glass items from the coffee and end tables. I watched my children, I thought them what they could and could not play with or touch.

1. I would leave the floor lamps.
2. I would anchor the bookcase.
3. Window guards, I have a 2 story house. I didn't use them.

You can never 100% child proof your home. If you see something that may be a issue for your individual child then take appropriate precautions.

I don't think my parents ever did any child proofing, and we turned out just fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Congrats on your baby and your impending move. You don't have to do everything, and might not have to do anything much. Not all children develop at the same rate, not all are grabby. our is a mover and a grabber. He rolled over at 2.5 WEEKS, army crawled backwards at 6 months, got a very fast crawl at 7 months, stood unsupported at 8 months, and will be walking by himself any day now, but enough about us.

We keep the doors closed, an gated off the living room. he's got free reign in there. We keep his playpen in the living room. All the toys are in there. he'll go in andout of it all the time on his own, if we have to step away to the bathroom or the kitchen, we put him in the playpen and close the door securing him.

we've taken away all tchoctkes in that area, put plug covers in, made the lamps inaccessible by hiding them behind sofas or other heavy furniture.

I'd say don't do anything drastic, especially as the end is in sight. Good luck.



answers from New York on

Babyproof, but don't go "nuts". It's actually much better for the kiddo if you teach her what she can/cannot touch! There's nothing wrong with saying "no touch" and moving her away from something.

Things to definitely do:
- Outlet plugs
- Tuck cords away (bundle them and hide them)
- Sharp edges (coffee table, etc) covered
- Cabinet locks on any cabinets she can reach that have dangerous items in them (especially under your sinks). We used the "U-shaped" ones from Babies R Us- they were great and easy to open as an adult!
- Depending on how tall she is, drawer locks

You already know this, but don't leave her unattended! If you need to go to the bathroom, shower, answer the phone etc either take her with you or put her in the crib/ pack-and-play. You co-sleep, so it may be time to invest in a pack-and-play!

Just know, too, she will figure out the ONE thing you didn't think of... don't feel guilty about it. Remember that all kids get bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes, but they learn from them and so do we!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions