Baby-Proofing with Flair Baby-Proofing with Flair

Bringing a new baby home involves more changes than we can address here - and we're not talking about diaper changes. You will be sleep-deprived, and you will probably not be seeing any first-run movies until there's Shrek Part 22.

But here, we're concerned with the effect of Baby on your home's décor. Baby décor means baby-proofing first and foremost.

You may think the many other changes in your life should take precedence, but indeed decorating for Baby means more than choosing pale yellow wall paper with bunnies on it. The decorating choices you make can mean the difference between the safety of Baby's first years and disaster. Start decorating by baby-proofing your home then you can worry about the finer details of baby décor like what crib to buy or mural to paint on the walls.

First, take a tour of your house from toddler-level - literally. Get down on your hands and knees (or have your spouse or friend do this if your pregnant belly prevents this). Go through the entire house this way, watching for sharp edges, small objects that could look delicious to a baby, and other hazards that you need to baby-proof.

Then, clear off any surfaces that are below your chest level. Sure, you could wait and clear off the surfaces as Baby grows and begins toddling, then walking, but once you have a one-year-old, you're not going to have time to worry about baby-proofing. You'll be too busy running after the baby to clear off surfaces.

This doesn't have to mean your home will suddenly be bare as a bad hotel room. Instead of having small, lightweight, breakable knick-knacks on low shelves, put the heavy books on those shelves, and stack them in tightly so that they can't be moved by curious little hands.

You can also have decorative pillows on the bottom shelves, or scattered on the floor. These will also help to cushion Baby's falls when she starts investigating that walking idea.

One of those low shelves will be the perfect spot for keeping Baby's toys, so that Baby can pull them out to play with, and you can shove them back onto the shelf without bending and straightening a hundred times. This will also act as a way to get the idea of putting toys away into Baby's head early.

While you are baby-proofing is also an excellent time to organize your entryway, with a hook high on the wall for your keys, and beside a peg to hold your purse. Or better, invest in a ready-made shelf and peg system that you can easily put up with a few screws, making sure it's higher than Baby will be able to reach. This can be especially helpful, as you'll always know there's a place where you can quickly stow anything you don't want Baby handling before you get a chance to put it away.

Once everything is organized and looking spruce, go through each room and do the following to ensure that your home is baby-proof.

  • Put slip-proof mats under throw rugs and door mats.
  • Install a chain at the top of exterior doors to prevent Baby from running off to join the circus.
  • Have you ever heard of a toilet lid lock? Now you have.
  • Install rubber stoppers at the top of all your doors, including closet doors. These will prevent the door from shutting all the way, and therefore will protect Baby's little fingers.
  • Install plug covers on any exposed electrical outlets.
  • Install magnetic cabinet and drawer locks, which will foil Baby's attempts to open every cabinet in the kitchen.
  • Rubber bumpers on sharp corners of furniture such as your coffee table might not be the height of baby décor, but is a necessary part of baby-proofing any home.

Most, if not all, of these items can be found in any hardware store, and they aren't expensive. And now is the time to make over your home for Baby, not six months from now, when you'll be so busy and exhausted you won't even remember where the hardware store is, never mind be able to find your way there.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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