I have been meaning to sit down and write this post for a while. I completely understand that this subject is only interesting if you need to toddler-proof your house … so it’s not for everyone. That said, I learned a lot and I want to share it because it may be helpful to some of you who have a similar need in your life!
I feel I should put a quick disclaimer that I am strictly sharing my own experiences here—not trying to give safety advice on a professional level. So if you have other helpful opinions, feel free to share them in the comments! This post is about what we’ve tried and liked (and in some cases, not liked very much—haha).
Spring loaded cabinet latches – If I could, I would prefer to have these in every drawer in our home. They are more old school, but I prefer them because you don’t need anything except your finger to unlock a cabinet. And they don’t seem to wear out. We have them in our bathroom and they don’t get on my nerves in our daily life at all.
We had to do the magnetic locks in our kitchen and entry cabinet (more on that below) due to the way they are built. One thing we learned is that we couldn’t use just one type of cabinet lock all throughout our home … we had to use a combination of different things.
Magnetic locks – These came highly recommend by many of my friends, so I will be VERY curious to read your comments. But I hate them—with all my heart.
To be fair, I’d rather deal with them in my life than have Nova getting into our kitchen cabinets though, so they do the job. They are better than nothing for sure!
What I don’t love is that if you have these, your kitchen is ALWAYS baby-proofed. And you have to use a magnetic key (we keep two in our kitchen in specific places) every single time you want a spoon, a straw … or whatever. It can really slow you down.
It is something I have to remind myself many times a day that we need. And we do need them. We installed them just weeks after returning from China and Nova has become even more curious and sneaky since that time. They are a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless.
If you are about to baby-proof your entire kitchen, my advice is to try spring loaded locks first. I find them much less annoying because you don’t ever have to stop what you are doing and reach for a key.
Pro tip: If you have the time, maybe even try out both options before you buy them for your whole house. I wish I had done this before buying and installing all the locks.
Baby gate – Lucky for us, we only needed one baby gate in our home. This was not a big deal and hasn’t been annoying really at all. It blends with our stair railing and is not an eye sore like the baby gates of the olden days. If you look super closely at this photo you may be able to see that we had to add extra wood to our staircase to make the gate fit. 100% worth it, though!
I absolutely recommend one of these “fancy” baby gates that open and close, over the old school ones.
Other modifications we made:
Before we brought Nova home, we moved our bar from a cart in our dining room to elevated, closed cabinets. To be really honest, we are not storing as much liquor in our home these days (just the occasional bottle of wine that we drink immediately—LOL). So it’s nothing like the huge collection of bottles that we used to keep around. These days, we maybe have 3-4 bottles of liquor (not even that most of the time), plus all our bitters and bar tools. We keep these in an elevated shelf that has doors (next to where our rainbow glassware is). I would love to get back to making all those fancy cocktails sometime soon, but it’s just not something I’ve been focusing on as much this year. Oh, and Laura just shared a really great bar cart solution.
We moved all our glassware out of reach. We had a lot of it stored down low in our dining room before and we just moved it all up higher.
We also moved all our cacti with prickly spines into our basement area (which is Jeremy’s studio and we don’t spend time with Nova down there almost ever).
Because of our adoption “home study,” (which is just an appointment where a social worker visits your home, checks for safety and asks you 100 questions) we had it pretty well organized and cleaned. We cleaned out every closet, moved paint cans up high … things like that. Our social worker didn’t even look in the closets, but I was still so glad we had that incentive to take care of all that before bringing Nova home.
Cleaning up my office was HUGE. Before I did that there was a lot of stuff laying on the ground that wasn’t safe (it was our junk room where stuff got tossed every time we cleaned in a rush). Now having a designated spot for scissors, essential oils, tape … and the 100 other things I don’t want her to play with, has been a game changer.
Other than that we are modifying as we go. My general parenting attitude is pretty low-key. Now that I’m a mom I totally agree with the advice we received that every child is different and you don’t know what will be problematic until you know your child. For us, the MAIN thing was getting our drawers and cabinets locked because for the first month of two before we did that she was into them every day.
I let Nova use a lot of art supplies and I don’t always keep them 100% out of her reach. Like, if she really wants to get a marker … she can get one. We also let her use the grand piano anytime she wants. This is our personal preference because we want her to feel like these creative activities are fun and that she is always welcome to do them.
And on a personal note, before we brought Nova home we vowed to always care about people over things. We do have some expensive rugs, coffee tables and things like that. But we decided things are just things. This is an intentional mindset. Safety is super important, but I don’t believe you can actually prevent children from making messes and occasionally ruining things. So “letting go” in my own way helped me to be mentally ready.
I would LOVE to hear anything that has worked for you, not worked for you or helped make your home life safer or more enjoyable! xx – Elsie