Some parents opt to install locks on everything and nail anything portable to the table. Others take a more laissez faire attitude, doing just the basics first and then waiting to see what potential hazards the baby discovers and taking action at that point.
If you’re on the budget, the latter is the way to go. The first piece of useful advice is: Relax. Considering you shouldn’t be leaving your newly mobile baby alone for even a minute unless he’s in a crib or playpen, you’ll be right there to prevent accidents until you get things how you want them.
First, prioritize your babyproofing tasks, then find ways to take care of the essential ones affordably. Here’s where to start:
The most important thing you can do is to put baby gates at the tops and bottoms of your stairs. These can get pricey, but you’re looking for sturdy, not fancy. Getting them used is the best way to go; as with most baby stuff, practically new items go for peanuts.
One accident waiting to happen is for the baby to pull tall and/or wobbly furniture over on herself. To prevent such a disaster, secure cabinets, bookshelves, dressers, and other tall, heavy items to the wall using wall straps or brackets. This can be done cheaply by getting your own supplies—brackets or straps and screws—at the hardware store instead of buying the ready-made kits.
Install drawer latches on low drawers or, for a cheaper way to solve this problem, fill them with things you don’t mind the baby playing with, like Tupperware or table linens. As for the crib, put the mattress at its lowest level as soon as the baby starts pulling up on the rails, and take out any objects he can reach or step on to climb out.
Put plastic safety plugs in any outlet your baby can reach and move all electrical cords out of your baby’s grasp. The plugs are very cheap and worth the small investment.
If you have a place with a concentration of cords that can’t be moved—such as under a desk—you can install a gate around the whole area. Use play-yard pieces secured to the wall to create a barrier of any shape; these can also likely be found used for a decent price.
Window coverings and flooring
If you have long curtains that hang to the floor, you don’t have to invest in shorter ones; just hang yours high and to the side. During the hours you really want them shut, the baby will (hopefully) be in bed. Another thing to look out for are the pull-cords on window blinds. Make especially certain none of these cords are near your baby’s crib.
Nonskid pads beneath area rugs will help prevent your little one from slipping, but a cheaper option is to take the rugs up temporarily and let your baby roam barefoot.
Once you’ve got these basics set, it’s time to sit back and watch your baby explore. Wait on the babyproofing paraphernalia like foam table bumpers and toilet latches, which can add up to a hefty bill. You might find that those seem like overkill once you see your kid in action and realize how closely you are always watching. Or you might find cheaper solutions, like a latch on the bathroom door.
Will it be difficult to babyproof your house? What is your best piece of advice for parents just starting out on the mobile-baby adventure?