I have two children. My oldest did not prepare me for my youngest. My daughter didn’t feel the need to really start walking around until 18 months old. She just sat, peacefully playing with whatever toys were nearby, while my home remained relatively unchanged. Even as she got older and became what I described as a “threenager” she still never toppled a table. She never threw her food to the ground. She didn’t stick a toy into a wall socket, and she didn’t try to scale a bookcase.
I’m assuming you’re picking up what I’m throwing out there. My second child is as energetic as he is freakishly smart. I call him (lovingly, of course) my little velociraptor. He is constantly testing the electric fences designed to keep him contained (metaphorically speaking). He has boundless energy, and sometimes he makes loud noises that sound just like we’re living inside a prehistoric jungle canopy. He has schooled me in the art of babyproofing.
There are babyproofing basics that everyone knows about, like doorknob covers, cabinetry hooks and baby gates at the bottom and top of stairs. But this list of tips is for parents of velociraptors. This is for babies that look at a plastic protector plug in an electrical socket, chuckle, and flick it onto the floor with their pointer finger (true story).
Face it, sometimes the plugs aren’t enough. If you’re going the route of traditional plastic plugs, and you have a toddler with the dexterity of a professional cat burglar, you get what you pay for. My son can remove the cheaper plugs with no problems, but the more expensive plugs made from thicker plastic are harder for him to remove. I have also shifted furniture into odd locations to block particularly attractive electrical outlets, and the open space behind the table under the tv (where there is a veritable Disney World of wiring) is covered with a large piece of cardboard, duct taped to the legs of the table.
Bolt Your Furniture to the Wall
If you find yourself pondering, “I wonder if he/she/they will climb on that,” the answer is always yes. Large furniture purchases automatically come with kits to affix them to the wall, but it’s usually with a small plastic piece that screws into the wall and a zip tie. For heavier pieces, you should spring for a metal L-bracket and some screws that mean business
Hide the Books
Bookshelves were made for toppling, and books were made for ripping. Create a safe room and put them inside it, and barricade the door. I tried the small bungee cords designed to help keep books in place, and my toddler laughed, dismantled the bungee cord, and then shot it across the room like a giant rubber band. Okay, maybe I’m embellishing a bit. But the bungee cord didn’t work, hiding the books in the back office did.
Toilet Brushes and Plungers
When babyproofing my bathroom, I was diligent about hooks that prevented my son from prying open cabinets or drawers full of toiletries and cleaning products that might harm him. What didn’t I think about? I didn’t think about the toilet brush and plunger located next to the toilet. I forgot until the day came when my small beloved tried to use the toilet scrubber as a giant hairbrush. Now these cleaning implements live in a bucket in the garage, and thankfully, he hasn’t figured out how to get that door open yet.
Prop the Cushions and Enjoy Standing
My son loves to smear a mouthful of banana all over the sectional in the living room. He also likes to run on it, like an upholstered toddler superhighway. He likes to jump up and down on it. Many times my daughter and I have saved him from going over the back, on his head and onto the concrete slab floor below. Therefore, the cushions stay propped up, permanently. We flip all of them upright, and he has a small, short ledge to sit and play on, but the height from which he can fall to the ground is mitigated, and the banana smearing is at a minimum. Sure, I’m exceeding the hourly stand goal for my Apple watch, but we’ve sustained zero falling head injuries so far, and I’m counting that as a win.
Cover the Hard Edges Under Tables
Do yourself a favor and peer under your tables. Lurking underneath your desk or dining table are likely very sharp, very easy-to-reach corners. Cover those bad boys. Pad them. Duct tape them. Do whatever you have to do, because, inevitably, your toddler is going to stand up underneath said table, and bleeding from the scalp is a situation everyone would like to avoid.
It may seem as if I’m complaining about my son. On the contrary. I find his ability to master childproofing contraptions, or to do gymnastics on the hardest of surfaces and still come out relatively unscathed, superhuman. He’s bright and funny and will throw down his noise-making cars and run to give me impromptu hugs that melt me completely. But I do think that the world sold parents a bill of goods with the idea that we could babyproof our homes and still keep them looking/feeling relatively the same as they did pre-children. This isn’t true.
Toddler years don’t last forever. Maybe we have to prop a piece of furniture in a weird place, duct tape hard edges under our antique dining room table or barricade books into closets or guest rooms. Babyproofing is a small price to pay for having these hilarious, ingenious small humans in our homes.