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Baby Proofing Products Review

Now that we’ve got a few months under our belts as a baby-proof (ish) house, I feel ready to pass on to you what items have worked and what haven’t. Keep in mind that she’s cruising – walking while holding on to furniture – but not solo walking, which means that we’ll need to do another round of tightening up, I’m sure, as she becomes more self-sufficient (read: devious and able to get into things on her own).

First, baby gates. We got the Safeway Walk-Through Gate for our top-of-stairs position.

Confession time: we have not yet installed it.

The stairs lead to the basement, which is the storage/laundry area and office. I’m almost never going up or down the stairs unless I’m carrying a baby and a basket of laundry/bag of dry goods/casserole for the freezer, and frankly I’m not looking forward to dealing with the door, which has a baby-deterring cover on it, and the safety gate at the same time. So we’re putting it off a bit while we wait for her to become independently mobile. In our defense, though, we do have the door knob covers in place which I’m sure will deter her since they take a couple of tries on my part to get it to open. As far as the gate goes, it’s the highest rated by Consumer Reports and I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews of it by parents.

We bought two other gates, one that worked and one that didn’t. The All-Clear Swing Gate is what we use across our kitchen opening, and I love it. It’s a clear but hard plastic rather than the vertical bars, so Madeleine thinks she’s looking out another window rather than languishing in a prison. We use it as a pressure gate, with a one-handed lock and release, but it comes with hardware to make it wall-mounted. As a wall-mounted gate it’s got a swing opening, but as a pressure gate you have to remove it to come and go. We may end up mounting it, since you can still carry it to another room; the hardware remains on the wall and you can remove the gate, transport it to, say, Grandma’s for the weekend, use it as a pressure gate, and then snap it back into place with the hardware when you return. Pretty nifty if you ask me, and lightweight to boot.

The gate that didn’t work for us is the Wide Spaces Swing Gate. Our media center is in a corner and I was looking for something to section off the entire area from sticky fingers. This gate has add-on pieces available so you can configure it for any area, which seemed perfect for us. I measured carefully, plotted angles, found wall studs, etc. What we didn’t count on was our wall molding and baseboards getting in the way of mounting; we couldn’t find a single spot on the wall that had a stud and was not compromised with the wall trim. So we’re in the process of sending the pieces back and teaching Maddie the word “stop”. If you’ve got flat walls and a small baseboard, though, this is a great option for awkward configurations.

The rest of the gear we’re using is small and cheap (fortunately). In the kitchen we’ve got a bounty of the swivel cabinet and drawer locks. They were relatively easy to install (I say, since I did not have to do them!), and screwed into our cabinets which are melamine – that was a concern I had. So far these work very well, are highly rated again by Consumer Reports, and have the advantage of being “turned off” instantly: the main piece swivels on its base allowing instant opening of drawers or cabinets. It’s perfect for places that don’t need to be babyproofed all the time like Grandma’s, and I like it for the times I’m doing a bake-a-thon and need to do lots of in and out of cabinets.

As far as electrical wiring goes, we’ve two main areas; surge protectors and outlets. Most of our outlets have the safe plate on them; a simple sliding mechanism keeps the outlets covered when not in use. CR recommends these over the individual socket inserts because of choking concerns. On a couple of our outlets that always have the same cords plugged in we have a different adaptor and plug cover: this one screws on over a cord, and leaves room for the bulky cords like chargers. I feel much better having those things covered when possible. For our surge protectors there’s a great power strip safety cover that snaps over the whole thing, protector and cords and all. I highly recommend these.

Other small things you don’t think about – blind winders. Our house is filled with mini-blinds and these little gadgets keep the long cords out of strangulation reach. I love that this particular style winds the blinds automatically; most don’t. And looking in the bathroom, this toilet lock is the only one I’ve found that locks itself back after each use. Which means that your guests don’t have to do it for you. With their unwashed hands.

In the kitchen we’ve installed an oven lock. But don’t ovens have their own locks, you ask? Yes, as a matter of fact they do. But on many models if you lock the oven and turn it on it assumes it’s being cleaned, and won’t allow you to unlock until the oven’s reached 600 degrees. So much for your pot roast. This lock works pretty well but with our snug-fitting kitchen we have to open the lock before we can open the drawer next to it. One Step Ahead offers a new lock designed to deal with that problem; wish they had sold it a few months ago. We do not have a lock on the refrigerator – takes a decent amount of energy to break that seal anyway – or on the dishwasher, since we use the lock provided. We tried the stove knob covers but they don’t fit our knobs and I’ve heard similar complaints from other parents. Guess we’ll just be removing the knobs if we need to. We also bought an adjustable stove guard but haven’t installed it since she’s not tall enough to reach the stove on her own. I think I’ll need it, though, since she’s already reaching for pot handles whenever I’m cooking and holding her.

We’ve bought furniture brackets to prevent large bookcases, etc., from falling over on the climbing kiddo. I have to confess that we’ve not yet installed them, but I got these over basic L brackets since you can unhook the furniture from the hardware and move it for carpet cleaning, etc. But I can’t tell you how well these work yet. And we did put foam padding and corners around the coffee table; the tape provided wore off in a matter of weeks and she was able to pull the padding off easily. But we bought some double-sided foam tape from 3M and it’s worked very well, and the foam padding’s saved her noggin on several falls. I don’t recommend the super tape, though, if it’s a coffee table that you’re really attached to, since I don’t know how easily the tape comes off.

And under the “are you kidding me?” column, we had to buy a light plate switch lock guard for Madeleine’s room. The light switch is right over her crib and she discovered the joys of standing up in the middle of the night and endlessly flipping the light on. And off. And on. And off. We had to look hard to find this, but it seems to do the trick.

So that’s what has (and hasn’t) worked for me. If you’ve got any items you can’t live without, by all means email me or post it. And if you’ve had terrible luck with something I’ve mentioned, please pass that on as well.

And speaking of, has anyone tried the toilet paper lock that’s out there? It seems like a royal pain to me, but Maddie’s begun to be interested in the paper roll.

Maybe we’re not quite done.


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