Baby-Proofing Your Home (Stylishly): 6-18 Months

Jasmine: We started babyproofing our home when Dylan started crawling early, around 6 or 7 months. When I started researching babyproofing, I was completely intimidated by the recommended number of areas in the house that we had to look into.

Andrew: I’ve never been a real fan of baby-proofing, and feel that the best ‘baby-proof’ is simply to keep a good eye on your children whenever they are playing. Also, honestly, I’m kinda lazy because there’s just way too many things to baby-proof if you want to start – all the cabinets, cupboards, sockets, doors, table corners (thankfully all our tables are either round, too high for Dylan to reach, or made of light material).

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Jasmine: It helped that we already believed in the Montessori philosophy of setting up a “prepared environment”, which basically advocates setting up a safe space for the child to learn through free exploration and sensory stimulation. Reggio Emilia takes this idea one step further, believing that the environment is the “third teacher” (first is parents, second teachers, or atelieristas as they are known) and the space, materials, and even lighting should be natural and welcoming to promote open-ended play. Thus, we decided we wanted the house to be first and foremost a baby-friendly environment rather than a baby-proofed environment.

Let’s face it, we can never have a 100% baby-proof house as baby will always find a new way to get into potential trouble, but we can try to ensure that some safety fundamentals are in place while creating a baby-friendly home environment where baby can still explore and learn. Baby-proofing is a work-in-progress that we will have to constantly revise as Dylan gets older and smarter, but these are some of our basic baby-proofing measures:

1. Box up electrical appliances/ cords

Andrew: Dylan has a great fascination especially with laptop wires and he would always come to me when I am doing work to drag the wires, or pull out the wire and worse – put it in his mouth!

Jasmine: We bought these boxes from Blue Lounge for areas with high electrical appliance density. Not only do they keep the cords and wires safely away from baby, the house looks instantly neater.

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No more messy wires!

2. Socket covers

Jasmine: This is a must, because we had seen Dylan poking his little fingers into the sockets on quite a number of occasions.

The first thing you can do is to move heavy furniture to block the sockets if they are infrequently used.  Do ensure that the furniture is sturdy enough that it won’t fall down on baby, which was the case when Agnes pulled herself up on my mum’s telephone table and the whole thing (glass cups, telephone and all) came crashing down on her!

Our two sets of sockets in our nursery are blocked by the mirrored dresser and armchair. This used to be Dyl’s favourite hiding corner but we have since moved the dresser to block the sockets behind it. (Andrew: This little boy just LOVES that corner so much. There were occasions where I’d just find him, sitting there, staring at his reflection in the corner and smiling to himself!)

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Just an excuse to show a cute photo! Dino-hat from Adeline.

If barricading sockets with furniture isn’t feasible, we got our socket covers quite cheaply from Ikea. Choose ones that are white and flat so that it draws minimal attention.

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We also tried to hide them where possible, for example in Dylan’s play area in the living room, where we have draped the curtain and then wedged two cushions in front of the socket:

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Andrew: Of course, even with socket covers, that doesn’t negate the need to watch over him. There were times where I’ve seen him tugging at the socket covers, trying to remove them. You would notice that for Dearie, baby-proofing is not just functional, it must be done in style… if it were me, I’d just dump something in front of the sockets like boxes or a stack of books to cover them. After all, that’d achieve the purpose right? (Jasmine: Not really, that would draw baby’s attention to the exact spot we want him to avoid.)

3. Use drawer latches or keep dangerous things in boxes

Jasmine: Dyl loves exploring cupboards and drawers and rummaging through all the contents. He’s not being naughty; exploring is a baby’s job and that’s how they learn about the world around them.

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Andrew: His favourite cabinet right now is our tupperware cabinet, which is just located at floor level. He’d open it and spend a while just taking out each tupperware, opening it up and throwing them all over the floor. In fact, he’s doing that right now as I type this – so much for watching over him… He has so much fun doing all these activities that sometimes I wonder how much I should restrict him…

Jasmine: We should honour the child’s impulse and curiosity while setting boundaries on acceptable areas and things to play with.  So that is the one kitchen cabinet we have identified as being ok for Dylan to play in.

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I thought it would be good for learning but I didn’t know it would be this educational! Dilly stacked five boxes for the first time- the most he’s ever stacked up till now is two!

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Okay clever baby, you’ve earned your license to play with the boxes all you want!

For the other cabinets, we wanted to get drawer latches but most of the ones in stores (Mothercare, Homefix, Ikea) needed to be drilled into the drawers, which I neither had the time nor energy for. (Andrew: Neither do I… I’m not really the handiman sort.)

Instead, what we did was to store all toxic substances (detergent etc) on high shelves. The lower kitchen cupboards are now just full of safer, lighter items like floormats, plastic boxes etc.

In addition, I also box up all potentially dangerous items or small electrical parts so that they’re even harder for Dylan to access. Right now they’re just in simple lidded boxes but I probably will have to switch to boxes with more difficult clasps once Dylan wises up to my ways.

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Andrew: Such baby-proofing is also an excuse for Dearie to sort out my electricals for me, because I used to just leave all my various chargers and devices all around the place. She’s nagged me nonstop to do it, but I’ve always given the excuse that it’s in the most convenient (Jasmine: and unsightly) place for me… I guess now she can pack them all up, in the name of baby-proofing…

4. Fan covers

Jasmine: Similar to the socket covers, when Dylan started pulling himself up, we had to rescue him a few times from sticking his fingers inside the fan when the blades were spinning.

Thankfully, we found this fan cover (this was the last piece) a couple months back at Spring Maternity, after a fruitless search at NTUC. It was quite expensive at  $11 but it does the job of protecting Dylan’s fingers. The bug is actually a pocket for air freshener but that is quite an unnecessary frill.

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Andrew: To me, this was the most essential and useful piece of baby-proofing. We have quite a few fans around the house. Dyls gets so active and sweaty during the day, so we tend to turn on the fan to keep him cool. Things which move tend to attract him a lot, so he has on many occasions walked towards the fan and almost stuck his finger in. I wonder though if that brightly coloured bug in the middle has the reverse effect of ‘attracting’ him to the fan, even more!

Although I did say that the best baby-proofing is to keep watch on the baby, I am on the lookout currently for a good safety gate to barricade the kitchen from Dylan. We have an open-concept kitchen, i.e. no door to the kitchen, hence there’s nothing to latch the gate on to. Still on the hunt! (Jasmine: actually I have already identified a retractable safety gate which matches our decor. The problem is that we need something to latch it on to, which means replacing our current open bar counter with a kitchen counter with built-in storage to prevent Dilly from going through. And if you must know, I have already gotten a quote for the new kitchen counter. Just waiting for your approval :p)

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