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08 Baby Proofing General Issues


This article is from the Baby Proofing FAQ, by Sandra Smith, sandra@cs.toronto.edu with numerous contributions by others.

08 Baby Proofing General Issues

From: Susanne Gilliam

In my book, by **far** the best latches are the Gerber single piece units
sold thru the Perfectly Safe catalog (1-800-837-kids). We have 2 children,
and have lived in 2 different houses, own at least 50 latches of at least 4
or 5 different manufacturer, and will now only buy the Gerber ones. There
are two reasons. The first one is that most latches are two pieces, and when
mounting them, you **must** mount them aligned, or they won't work. Most
allow some adjustment in one piece, or both, to make it so you don't have to
mount them perfectly. The problem is that over time, the screws holding the
pieces loosen the tiniest amount, and let the piece move ever so slightly.
They are usually designed such that the slip makes it easier to get the
drawer or cabinet open by simply yanking on it hard enough. Of course, you
can reposition and retighten the latch, but if your child gets in even
once, it can be disasterous, dangerous, or just plain annoying, depending
on what is in the drawer/cabinet.
The Gerber one piece latches are different (Perfectly Safe carries both
one and two piece latches by Gerber). They are a strong plastic hook
sort of shape, with a spring. If you think of an ordinary kitchen
cabinet, you would mount the piece on the door. When you swing it closed,
the "hook" catches on the inside of the facing of the cabinet. Due to the
shape of the hook, it basically closes without problem. But, it won't
open. To open it, you push down on the latch, against the pressure of
the spring. There are a few places they won't work, particularly on
drawers that simply have a flat, solid surface above them (some center
front desk drawers are like this, among others), but we use them
everywhere we can. If you can put the latch out of reach (like high on
a tall kitchen cabinet), that is best.
Kids differ a lot in how much they will fiddle with your childproofing.
The "average" child will make a few attempts, then give it up, and they
quickly learn what is latched and what isn't. Other kids, however, have
a strong drive to overcome obstacles, and they will drive the childproofing
methods to their limits. In cases like that, two latches will help.
Some people use toilet latches to keep the lid down. I used a wait and
see attitude; since neither of my kids ever showed the slightest
inclination to mess with them, I haven't used the toilet latches. My
kids also did not mess with the outlet covers more than a few times each,
so I use the "standard" ones that simply push in to the outlet. There
are more sophisticated ones available, but they are more expensive and
harder for the parent to get at the plug when needed. (By the way, when
we travel, we always take a long a baggie of outlet caps for whereever
we spend time -- hotel rooms, Grandmother's house, etc.) If you can
run electrical cords behind furniture, do so. If you can't, see if you
can put some of the cord under the furniture itself, to make it so
a tug on one end of the cord doesn't bring the object tumbling down.
For example, a table lamp on a living room end table can have the
cord run under one of the feet for the table. In addition, you can
get what amount to plastic "C" clamps; they are used for lamps, etc --
you can use the clamp to hold the cord tight against the edge of
the table so that the child cannot pull on the rest of the cord, and
have the item tumble down on them. These are not exactly beautiful,
but they are very effective for places where there are no other choices.
Padding edges are another debatable case. In both our houses, we
have had a fireplace hearth raised 1 brick high, with the sharp edges
just waiting to dent a baby head. We used a wait and see attitude with
that too, and never had to do anything. However, you can make your own
thick padding with an old towel, duct tape, and padding, or you can
buy a variety of paddings. At some point, every child grows too large
to waltz under the dining table the way they do at the beginning, but
I never felt that was worth doing much about -- you watch them, try
to stop them, and they learn fast.
Baby gates are an obvious class of stuff that probably needs no
When you start to give the baby baths in a full sized tub, you can get
"spout guards" to protect the child from bumping into it. You can also
get things that cover the knob(s) that can prevent a bad burn, should
the child pull on the faucet (accidentally, or on purpose). And, of
course, you need a non-skid mat or non-skid stickers on the bottom
of the tub. No matter how you try, kids always wind up standing in
the tub.
There are all manner of specialty things, from latches for 'fridges,
microwaves, and ovens, to guards for the front of a stove, to VCR
locks (keeps the child from pushing in fingers, pizzas, blocks, and
oatmeal). Whether or not you need them depends on your child, yourself,
and your house. A locking file cabinet can be a great addition to your
house -- it may not look good, but a metal one can be used to lock up
cleaners and other dangerous objects.
I really recommend the Perfectly Safe catalog. You can scan thru the
catalog and learn a lot.
Sometimes creativity and a few supplies are all you need. If you have
a vertical "stack" of drawers with handles, you can run a broomstick
down thru them; by the time the child can get past it, you may not
need it anymore. We have a sort of free standing wet bar with sides
that swing out to reveal a collection of glassware, etc, and my
daughter **loved** to open it and throw the stuff around. There was
no obvious way to use a commercial latch of any kind to secure it,
but it finally occurred to me that I could jam a matchstick in the
hinge, and she hasn't figured it out yet (she is 19 months).
And so it goes...a parent's work is never done! Hope all this is
helpful. If you have any specific questions, let me know, and I'll
do my best.


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