Planning for your first child can feel like a part-time job. Not only do you need to consider the many, many financial aspects of having children, but you need to figure out what your baby needs and how to acquire these items. This often means setting up a registry at your favorite baby store, figuring out if you can borrow any baby gear from friends or purchasing it cheaply yourself, and shopping for adorable baby clothes you may or may not need. Preparing for a new baby may seem like a labor of love, but one thing is for sure. All these tasks can eat up your energy and resources â€” at a time when you wish you could relax.
Fortunately, thereâ€™s one parenting chore that can wait awhile â€” even several months after your baby comes home. Babyproofing is definitely a â€śmust,â€ť but it shouldnâ€™t be your top priority since your baby will be mostly immobile for the first few months of their life.
Before we dive into the best ways to babyproof in a stylish way, itâ€™s important to underscore what babyproofing is and why itâ€™s so important.
Babyproofing, which is also called â€śchildproofingâ€ť sometimes, is the act of altering your residence to prevent babies and children from hurting themselves at home.
While you may believe that babyproofing isnâ€™t necessary or that itâ€™s an act undertaken only by â€śhelicopter parents,â€ť you may be surprised to find out just how common household injuries are in young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages 19 and younger. Some of these injuries are the result of traffic accidents, playground accidents, and sports, but many others can and do happen at home.
While you should check your home for all potential hazards that could lead to the injury of your child, there are some babyproofing tips that apply to almost every home. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers a â€śchildproofing checklistâ€ť that includes the most important components of your residence that need to be updated or altered to prevent injury.
As you start babyproofing your home to protect your little one, check these items off your list first:
This is not an all-inclusive list and you may need to babyproof additional components of your home. Because each home is different, experts suggest you walk through each room of your house to look for potential hazards that could cause injury or death. Not only that, but you should get on the floor and crawl around to see what your baby might be able to reach once they start crawling and walking. What you find at a small childâ€™s eye level may surprise you.
One of the biggest worries of new parents is how to protect their child without ruining their homeâ€™s aesthetic. This is especially true for parents who love decorating their home stylishly and hate the idea of having bulky padding all over the place.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to childproof stylishly â€” or without altering the look of your space at all. If youâ€™re looking for ways to babyproof without turning your living areas into boring and featureless padded rooms, consider these expert tips:
Bill Brooner, an Advanced Certified Professional Childproofer and the founder of Baby Proofing Montgomery, said you can avoid changing the look of your kitchen and bathrooms by installing cabinet and drawer locks that operate discreetly on the inside. Fortunately, you can find plenty of door and cabinet locks that fit the bill in big box baby stores and online.
Heather Schisler, a mother of three and the blogger behind PassionforSavings.com, said that she and her husband swear by magnetic door locks that go inside the cabinets and canâ€™t be seen from the outside. â€śThese are easy to open and they can be turned off as your kids get older,â€ť she said. â€śBest of all, they canâ€™t be seen from the outside so they donâ€™t take away from the beauty of your home.â€ť
No matter the color of your furniture and the interior details of your home, Brooner said you can purchase padding to match. This typically means buying coordinating padding materials to protect furniture with sharp corners (coffee tables, end tables, etc.), fireplaces, and rough room transitions in your home. You can find bumper pads and furniture padding in all colors online or in baby supply stores.
If youâ€™re in the market for miniblinds, consider buying cordless blinds that provide shade and a contemporary look while eliminating the choking hazards that come with cords. Some cordless miniblinds operate with a remote while others allow you to open and close the blinds with a wand instead.
Brooner said that you can hire a professional to custom cut and provide plexiglass products to provide safety barriers on staircases, decks, and balconies where railings have wide spaces that can pose a hazard. â€śThese materials are transparent, so you can see through them and they do not impede on the view,â€ť he said.
The cheapest baby gates are often made of bright white or tan plastic that doesnâ€™t coordinate with any home, but you can get a more stylish look if you purchase gates that match your woodwork or trim. Brooner said that a childproofing professional can also paint your gate mounts to match your gates and your interior decor.
While it may be too late to plan the interior of your home around kids, Schisler said buying furniture that isnâ€™t a natural hazard for little ones can make a lot of sense. For example, you could choose coffee and end tables with rounded corners instead of sharp edges.
Schisler said she and her husband learned this lesson the hard way when they purchased a mirrored glass end table several years ago.
â€śIt only lasted in our home about two weeks before my 18-month-old pulled up on it and flipped it over and glass shattered everywhere,â€ť she said. Obviously, they went with something more kid-friendly the second time around so they could prevent injury.
â€śKeeping kids in mind as you make purchasing decisions helps make a home that you can live in and still love,â€ť said Schisler.
Schisler said that, when her kids were little, she was worried they would escape their home and end up in the road or the yard. As a result, she purchased door guards â€” but not the ugly childproofed door knob covers that most people buy. Schisler opted for metal door guards that matched the interior of her home while making it impossible for children to open doors from the inside. (Door guards are those metal, interior latches you find on the inside of hotel rooms. When closed, door guards only allow you to open doors a few inches.)
Buying electrical outlet plugs that match your outlets can ensure they blend in and donâ€™t stand out. You can also purchase â€śself-closingâ€ť outlet covers that close automatically when nothing is plugged in to protect against electrical hazards for children and pets. These protect children against electrical hazards while maintaining the look of a regular electrical outlet.
Todayâ€™s modern flat screen televisions can be top heavy and dangerous if placed on the top of a television stand, but you can easily mount your television on the wall where it wonâ€™t tip over. However, you should still use professional cord covers that hide cords from your television, cable box, and DVD player so your child canâ€™t reach them. Fortunately, you can buy wooden cord organizers that can match the decor of your home.
You donâ€™t have to rearrange your room or move heavy furniture out of common areas where your baby plays to protect them against tipping furniture. Instead, anchor your furniture to wooden studs in your wall so it cannot be pulled over no matter what. You can do this with professional furniture mounting supplies and furniture wall straps.
Anchoring your furniture will protect your baby without changing the look of your home at all.
Like most purchases related to kids, babyproofing can cost a little or a lot. According to the experts, how much youâ€™ll pay depends on a wide range of factors, including:
A home with several staircases may come with considerably higher costs to babyproof since you would likely want to place gates at each one, for example. Likewise, a home without stairs wouldnâ€™t require any gates or any associated costs to babyproof staircase railings or landings.
Arvey Levinsohn, a Certified Professional Childproofer who works for A&H Childproofers in the Chicago area, said that cost also depends on the parents and their personal preferences. For example, some parents may want their entire home protected just in case, while others may only want to childproof a few bedrooms and living areas where their child spends the most time.
Levinsohn said that confining your child to certain areas of your home is one of the best ways to save money on babyproofing. â€śThat way, you can keep an eye on them and youâ€™re not overspending to babyproof rooms you may not actually use.â€ť
If you want to come up with an estimate on the costs of babyproofing your home, there are two ways to go about it, the first of which is the do-it-yourself method. Walk through each room of your home and make a list of items that need protection including furniture, staircases, electrical outlets, cords and more. Also note how many baby gates youâ€™ll need, since they are often one of the most expensive components of any babyproofing strategy.
From there, you can shop around for pricing. Tally up everything you need to buy from outlet covers to furniture anchors, taking into account your personal style preferences and your favorite brands.
While the do-it-yourself method for childproofing will inevitably save you money, it will also require an investment of time. Obviously, it could take days or even weeks to figure out which babyproofing supplies you need, shop around for materials that match your personal style, then install it all yourself.
If you feel like you need some help, you do have the option of hiring a professional childproofer. These companies will come out to your home and inspect your property for potential hazards you should eliminate. They will also provide you with a list of childproofing â€śmustsâ€ť for your home, along with an estimate of how much it would cost for professional childproofing. Many childproofing companies will even do an estimate for free, and some who do charge for an estimate will deduct the estimate cost from your bill if you wind up using their services.
If youâ€™re wondering how much a professional babyproofing company will charge for their services, itâ€™s difficult to come up with a concrete estimate. What youâ€™ll pay depends on your needs, how much of your home you want protected, and the unique characteristics of your property. As a result, service costs vary widely, and whatâ€™s affordable for you will depend on your budget.
Professional childproofer Peter Kerin of Foresight Childproofing in Minnesota said pricing can also depend on the fixtures you select. â€śThere are wonderful gates that are $200, but you can get the same quality for $50,â€ť he said. â€śHow much youâ€™ll pay depends on your style as much as anything else.â€ť
Childproofing your home is the best way to protect your infant or toddler from injuries that are likely preventable. Preparing your home in this way may not come cheap, but itâ€™s possible it could save you from a lifetime of regret.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to babyproof your home in a way thatâ€™s both helpful and stylish. And if all else fails, call in the professionals to help.
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