incredible infant

headline 2011

Choosing Baby Safety Equipment:
Distinguishing the "Musts" from the "Shoulds"

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{Photo by keeping it real}
baby safety equipment 8
protecting the bravest of explorers
Yes, it's "baby safety equipment" time again. Have you made your list? Here are the babyproofing items that should be at the must-have tippy top.

You'd think that with two older girls, I would have all my babyproofing stuff already for girl No. 3. But no.

I'm confident my good ole' friends The Borrowers loot my stash after each baby. I open the "baby proofing" box, and root through the pathetic stash, wondering how in the world my kids survived to be school aged.

So here I am again. Ordering new gates, purchasing new semi-annoying cabinet stoppers, discovering new plug-ins that aren't mommy-proof. And here you are, looking over my virtual shoulder.

Well, peek away friend.

I realize that we don't all have hundreds of dollars to throw down the all-important childproofing budget hole. To help the safety-serious-yet-financially-fainthearted, I've categorized them into...
  • the "musts" (don't care where you get them, but good parenting requires them)
  • the "shoulds" (can be skipped if you absolutely have to, but skipper beware...)

I will say this, though. If you have more than 2 kids (or are easily distracted), consider the "shoulds" as musts. The more distractions you have in your home, the more distractable you are, the more important your baby-proofing is.

On the other hand, if you only have one baby and are a very diligent focused mother with one eye always on the little explorer, you may want to just purchase the "musts". Keep in mind that no matter how diligent you are, how hovering you try to be, it only takes a second for a lifetime of sorrow.

Side Note: If you prefer a physical checklist you can print, I've expanded this article into a more complete eBook called The Safest House on the Block. Click here to see this free eBook.

The Must-Haves Baby Safety Equipment
for Your Home

These are must-haves in every home with a baby. Yes, there are quite a few. So don't just start buying when he's mobile. Start early, and add to your collection along the way. Both your mind and your checkbook will be more peaceful that way.


Baby Safety Equipment: A Good Gate

Even if you live in a ranch-style home or apartment with no stairs, there will be rooms or areas you won't want your baby wandering into, so a good gate is an absolutely-must-have babyproofing purchase.

I've stopped getting frustrated when my older girls don't shut their bedroom door. Bella makes a bee-line for their room every time I set her down. She knows where those girly-girl teeny-tiny toys are stored! We bought a gate for the girls. They feel so special with their "magic gate", and I can watch Bella crawl up to watch her sisters without panic attacks.

Since gates are such a big subject, click here which gates got top marks.

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Baby Safety Equipment: A Blind Winder

The number of babies strangled every year because of dangling blind and shade cords is devastating. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission lists cords as one of the "hidden dangers" parent's don't think of. Click here to see all the blinds recalled due to infant strangulations.

There are numerous cheap-deapo blind winders out there, but if you have to manually re-wind the cord after every use, chances are you won't use it. (At least, I know I won't use it.)

We purchased an automatic blind winder like this one. It looks more like a tape-measure and will automatically retract when you push a button.


Baby Safety Equipment: Anti-Tip Anchors

If you have a climber (or potential climber) on your hands, furniture straps are a must. Whether it's a dresser or a bookshelf, attach these heavy pieces of furniture to the wall with anti-tip straps like this to prevent the furniture from tipping over.

As quickly as you can turn around, your moving baby could decide to get that toy by himself and attempt to climb up the furniture. These straps are durable and strong enough for any piece of furniture. These straps are definitely a must-have if you have "climbers" or live in an earthquake zone.

Stereos and TVs are really heavy items. The last thing you want to happen is have your infant spy that tempting remote control on top and start climbing his way to grab it. Secure your TV with these anti-slip television straps to keep your TV firmly in place. They are easy to install and are definitely a smart purchase.


Baby Safety Equipment: Fireplace Safety

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{Photo by rlr77}
The hard stone around the fireplace hearth can be very dangerous with little ones around. Its sharp edges and rough stone corners can cut, and seriously hurt a tripping child.

There are several good hearth bumper pads. The top two available are flame resistant so you don't have to remove it before using the fireplace. Both can be trimmed to get a perfect fit. This bumper pad covers the entire hearth and is cushioned for a comfortable sitting surface.

This version just covers the outside sides and corners, and so is a little less expensive. Whichever cover you choose, if you have a fireplace that sticks out in your living room, a cover is a good investment for the years ahead.

If you have doors on your fireplace, a door guard like this one will prevent your baby from opening them up to see what's inside. A cooling fireplace can provide just as many injuries as a burning fireplace! If you don't have a door covering your fireplace, you'll need to purchase a strong hearthgate.

Finally, if you have a fireplace, a nearby fire extinguisher is a MUST. This fire extinguisher by First Alert isn't clunky and is easily hidden near the fireplace for emergencies.


Baby Safety Equipment: Corner Edge Bumpers

You can cover the corners of your endtables and coffee tables with corner and side guards like these. One-size-fits all because you cut the foam to fit your particular table exactly. If you have a thicker table to cover, consider these jumbo corner guards as well.

Also a good buy, try a padded bumper shield for your coffee table. The bumper is stretched to fit your table, so you'll need to do some measuring. It will even fit around round tables (if you measure correctly). It may sag in the middle if the measurements are off too much. If you purchase it and it doesn't seem to fit, you can either return it or cut it and sew it smaller for a custom fit. Once you get a good fit, however, it does a great job and will last a long time.


Baby Safety Equipment: Outlet Covers

For used outlets with cords, you can purchase a cover that will prevent your baby from unplugging the cord and messing with the outlet. They are best for high-traffic areas where you will be plugging and un-plugging items frequently.

These spring-loaded covers are another smart buy. The outlet is constantly covered until you slide over the cover to plug something in. I love the 100% hassle-free protection. I never have to worry the holes are exposed. (Good Tip: Buy 25 in the multi-pack and save over $18)

My newest discovery in resolving my hatred for outlet covers was these pressure-sensitive covers. They balance hassle-free with finger-protection really well.

Last, but not least, you can cheaply buy covers that are simply inserted into the holes, like caps. These outlet covers are inexpensive and relatively easy to use.

I say relatively because they take some manipulating to take them out. These are best reserved for low-traffic outlets. I like to keep a handful in a drawer in case an outlet is exposed by unplugging or moving furniture.


Baby Safety Equipment: Childproof Latches for Cabinets and Drawers

Drawer latches are also a must-have for childproofing your home. They will prevent your growing infant from reaching intact drawers with sharp or small items stored inside. Ideal for the kitchen, bathroom, or home office. You can also use these on filing cabinet drawers. I prefer these adhesive drawer locks. I don't have to screw into my cabinets (permanently damaging them) in order to use them and their easy to use.

Lower cabinets should always have childproof latches on them. Choose childproof latches that won't allow your little one to get even a hand inside. (Which eliminates those latches like these.)

To avoid any kind of drilling, you can use latches that attach to the outside of the cabinet doors, like this one. (Actually, that example could also be used on appliances, toilets, or other cabinets that don't have knobs.)

If you don't like how those look, consider these magnetic adhesive locks. They are much smaller and less intrusive, but just as effective (just don't loose the key!). They also don't require any holes to be drilled into your cabinets.

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{Photo by Inferis}

Baby Safety Equipment: Railing Net

Stair and railing nets are also a must if your railing spindles are further than 2.5 to 3 inches apart. KidKushion's netting is perfect for regular or irregular railings for stairways and lofts. It's flexible enough to bend around the banister, but strong enough to hold up to your baby's pounding.

This product would also work for outdoor deck railings, though you may have to purchase more than one. It comes in a 16 foot roll.


Baby Safety Equipment: Bathtub Safety Items

Bathtime is always exciting for a growing baby. Keep it safe by using some of these little accessories.

The Should-Haves Baby Safety Equipment
for Your Home

First, let me add a strong disclaimer. These are not "oh goody I'm off the hook" shoulds. These are "oh goody I can purchase these along the way" shoulds. See the difference? They are still important aspects of baby proofing. They are just not as urgent as the ones above.

Again, the more distractions you have in your home (work, other children, etc) or the more distractable you are (SQUIRREL!), the more urgent these "shoulds" become. I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to stop those "tragic moments" ahead of time. Take this seriously, it's worth it.


Baby Safety Equipment: Electrical Wires

Elena seems drawn to power strips like a moth to flame. It must be all those interesting cords. Protect your baby's interests by covering up those plug-ins completely. A power strip cover like this one will cover the entire power strip, and even allow you to hang it on the wall for further removal from temptation.

You can even remove most of your entertainment wires by keeping them tucked away with a cord controller like this one for your entertainment system and wire guards for lamps, speakers, and extension cords.


Baby Safety Equipment: Non-Skid Backing for Rugs

I have a love-hate relationship with those non-skid sheets for rugs. I love them, because for the first few days they actually work. I hate them because after 4 days they're all bunched up, folded over and a annoying mess. This non-skid is a commercial product by StopDirt actually does the job. It can be used on carpet or hard floors. It comes in a big package (2" x 4") but you can cut it to match any size rug you have.


Baby Safety Equipment: Appliance Childproof Locks

When looking for a refrigerator latch, search for one that's easy for you to open, but too difficult for your growing baby. It should seem sturdy and lock automatically after you shut the fridge door. This fridge lock is a good choice. It meets all those requirements, and doesn't stand out too much on the fridge.

If your freezer is at the bottom of your fridge and pulls out like a drawer, you'll need a lock to secure it from unwanted exploration (and dangerous falls). The same can be said for low microwaves or dishwashers.

You need a multi-purpose appliance latch like this one is a good choice. You could use it for your fridge as well, but it is harder to open than the Parental Units version above. I would use this model for those appliances you may not be using as often.

The oven lock is another important part of childproofing your home. If your toddling infant decides to pull on the handle and open it, he could seriously burn himself, or even tip the oven over when he attempted to crawl up on the door. An oven lock like this one is heat resistant and will make opening easy for you, and impossible for him.

A final smart safety accessory for your kitchen is a stove shield. These shields sit around the edge of your stove, preventing your toddling infant from touching the hot stovetop. This stove shield is adjustable to fit stoves 24 - 36 inches wide. It's heat resistant and comes off easily when no longer needed.

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Baby Safety Equipment: Window Guards

A good window guard should be extremely sturdy. It should allow fresh air to come in, but keep baby out. The best known window guard is the Guardian Angel Window Guard. You will need to measure your window to determine which guard will fit the best.

If the guard is just too expensive, try using a window stopper that attaches to the glass and keeps the window (or door) from opening to wide and allowing your child to slip through.

If you just can't afford to purchase window guard right now, just keep the window closed or only open the window 1-2 inches (and instruct older kids to keep them that way).


Baby Safety Equipment: Door Knob Covers

These covers are listed as "should" because technically you have a little time before you have to worry about your baby touching the doorknobs. However, once your baby is walking and can reach the knob, these will need to be moved to the "must" category.

Preventing entry into a room (or closet) is often the best, easiest, and cost-efficient way to babyproof. If your door uses a standard knob to open, a simple knob cover (like this one) should suffice. If your doors use a lever to open and close, you'll need a latch that looks like this.

Click here for more specific information on keeping your baby's bedroom safe.


Baby Safety Equipment: Toilet Seat Lock

The toilet seat is perhaps the most interesting thing in the bathroom to your baby (besides the toilet paper). Sadly, many babies die every year due to toilet drownings. A curious child may open the lid and peer inside, leaning so far forward that he falls in and cannot right himself. It is a severe tragedy.

Some parents complain that it is difficult to find a good lock because toilets come in such a wide range of designs. However, most people seem to like this toilet lock, so I would start there.

When your baby becomes a toddler and starts to potty train you may wish to consider installing a soft close toilet seat like one from Toto toilets as that can prevent serious finger accidents.

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It may look like a lot, but these items will protect your baby for years to come. Of course, don't forget those baby gates!

If you'd like to see these suggestions laid out in an easy-checklist format, request a free copy of "The Safest Home on the Block".

These are the most important baby safety equipment items out there. Consider them as an important investment you will make in the years of growth and exploration still ahead of you.

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