Childproofing Your House – The Frugal Way

by A Guest Writer · 16 comments

in A Frugal Family

This is a guest post from Emma, of Baby-Log. If you enjoy it, why not subscribe to her feed?

There comes a point in any mom’s life when she knows – the house must be childproofed. But how do you get it right and keep the costs to the minimum? Looking back, I can say – if I had to do it over again, here is what I’d do:

Think first
The best tip I can give you – think first, buy locks second. The most common mistake people make is that they go to the shops to see what kind of locks are available and end up buying a stack of inconvenient, awful looking, irritating devices that make life so much harder – and they don’t even need half of them.

Make a list

You already know what areas in your house need childproofing, so it is easy enough to walk through those and make a list of all the cupboards, cabinets and other items that need to be locked. That list will keep you from buying locks that you don’t need “just in case”, because you will know exactly the number and the kind of locks you are looking for. It will spare you the confusion and the time wasted wondering through supermarket aisles.

Do you really have to lock it?

Some cabinets can be childproofed by simply putting all the dangerous things such as household cleaners on a higher shelf, so that you won’t have to lock them. Another idea is to relocate the medicines/bug sprays/detergents/acids/poisonous substances of all sorts to just one cupboard that you can put a lock on.

Choose your battles

Sometimes it is much cheaper and easier to childproof a door to a room than render harmless every hazard in it. Let’s take the bathroom, for example. To childproof that whole room, you would need to put anti-scald devices on all the faucets and shower heads, locks on the medicine cabinets, lock on the hot tub and locks on the toilets. Instead, use a door knob cover to prevent access to bathroom, problem solved and it only costs a dollar.

Don’t buy all of them at once

Get just one lock of each kind, come home, install and use for a couple of days. If you like it, go back and buy more of the same kind. I have tried 6 types of different locks for the same drawer and only one really did the job, meaning was safe and easy enough to open and close.

Follow the Golden Rule of Childproofing

There are many different kinds of locks, some do the job better, some worse, and some of the locks are not childproof – they are in fact adult-proof. It happened many times that I had to struggle with a lock and there even was a particular one I cut open with scissors because there was no other way. The golden rule of childproofing says – if the parent can’t open the lock easily, get rid of it.

Return the locks that didn’t work for you

Don’t throw the receipts away! Save the original packaging. You will find that many locks prove to be difficult to open, fiddly, unsafe for the child and not suitable for many other reasons. Collect them all and take them back with the packaging and a receipt, get a refund.

This is a great list of ideas! I particularly like the idea to choose your battles, and restrict access to a whole area. What are your best frugal childproofing techniques?


1 Greg Brave November 20, 2008

What a great article! I liked the initial approach to the childproofing problem. One thing I would like to add – don’t forget to childproof the power outlets of the house, and all power appliances should be also out of child’s reach.

Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

Greg Brave´s last blog post..Go Extreme but Stay Safe

2 Kelly November 20, 2008

Great post. I am just getting ready to child-proof my home! Not looking forward to it…cost wise and it means my baby is growing up!

Kelly´s last blog post..It Was Bound to Happen

3 Jen November 20, 2008

Use foam pipe insulation to cover the edge of your fireplace and table edges/corners. You can probably get away with buying 1 or 2 packages total ($3 a piece) instead of spending $10-20 per table/fireplace for the fancy foam edge cover things.

4 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins November 20, 2008

Oh man I am in the midst of childproofing myself! And it is not fun.

We have definitely taken the “block off whole rooms” approach. Right now the kitchen, bathroom, and older boys rooms are completely blocked off.

Here is something we have done in the living room that works well – we use our furniture to our advantage. For example, our TV cords and plugs and stuff hang down and there was about a 4 foot gap between the TV shelf and the floor. I repainted an old vintage trunk, filled it with out cds and dvds, and put it in front of all those cords. Reesy can’t even budge that thing and it looks way better than the bundled cords!

Lucie @ Unconventional Origins´s last blog post..Inspired Projects – Paper Planes to Decorate Your Child’s Room

5 Helen November 20, 2008

We have triplets who like to work together, so childproofing was a big task here. When they figured out how to open the cupboards in the kitchen we raced to secure them closed (only because I was tired of preventing slammed fingers). The traditional childproofing stuff was difficult to install and some of it was pricey! We ended up using strips of velcro. Works great and it was MUCH cheaper.

Helen´s last blog post..Rub-a-dub-dub

6 Liss November 20, 2008

I totally agree with the tips! We basically bought doorknob covers and a stairs gate (along with plug covers). We lucked out–in our bathroom we have cabinets up over the toilets, so for chemicals etc, we just keep them up high. We have one cabinet locked in the kitchen (because it doesn’t really matter if the kids play with the Tupperware and pans!) and we found these really nice “locks” that go on cabinet knobs–no holes in your cabinet to install and it still stays locked! Of course, you have to have knobs instead of handles…..

7 Janice November 20, 2008

We use rubber bands to keep some cabinets closed – anything with two knobs or handles close together that can be wrapped tightly and securely with a rubber band gets one. It works great and is basically free, because we tend to acquire the rubber bands from the grocery store on produce and prepared foods.

Janice´s last blog post..Politics

8 Christi November 20, 2008

I’ve found that heavy-duty rubber bands are great lock for many of the cabinets in our kitchen and I can actually open them when I need to. I’ve been using the super thick ones like we get around broccoli for about a year now. I check periodically to make sure they aren’t about to break, but they’ve held up well so far and are a whole lot cheaper than the other locking devices that have kept me out of our cabinets.

9 Kendra@ShoppingforTwo November 20, 2008

I agree with the putting a childproof door knob on the bathroom door. That’s exactly what we did.
Also, after having childproof ‘locks’ fail on me and my son dumping Comet into his mouth (he was just fine…luckily!) I decided to switch to all natural cleaners. So now in case he gets into trouble again, the worst he’ll find is a squirt bottle of vinegar and a jar of baking soda. (That’s a lot more frugal than other cleaners anyway.)

Kendra@ShoppingforTwo´s last blog post..Nursery Inspiration: Syko’s Room

10 Mandie P. November 20, 2008

We have been childproofing in stages. First, we childproofed things that String Bean might “roll” into. When she started crawling, we did some more childproofing. Finally, we are working on the walking hazards. Doing it in satges has helped because we’ve been able to wait and watch for sales on childproofing items. (Also, there is the whole cash-flow issue that helps when you spread things out!)

Our most frugal way of childproofing was to put a big toybox in front of our chords for computers and what-not so String Bean couldn’t get into them. We needed the toybox anyway!

Mandie P.´s last blog post..How Many Days Ago?

11 La Rêveuse November 20, 2008

We have a lot of open shelves with CD's, DVD's, books, etc. and no money for new cases with doors (and nowhere to put all the stuff if we just got rid of them.) Plus, a lot of our things are on tables with other stuff tucked under, like the stereo, cable box, etc. I took some measurements, went to a glass shop, and had plexiglass cut to fit with the corners rounded. Some elastic wrapped around, and she can't get at anything, it looks decent, and is removable when she's bigger. Plus, the remotes work through the plexi. It was worth the money for all the headaches it saved!

<abbr>La Rêveuse´s last blog post..Like what you see?</abbr>

12 Kelly November 20, 2008

Such great comments everyone! Thanks for all the additional ideas. One of the interesting things that I have found about living in France is the different attitudes towards child raising, in particular, childproofing. French parents don’t. Well, they might move the poisons out of reach, but that’s about it! I have come to a compromise between the two ways of doing it, but I still like to childproof at least a minimum.

13 Emma November 21, 2008

@Mandie P.
You are so right about childproofing in stages approach! I found that just watching the kid and noticing the hazards as they appear saves a lot of unnecessary spending.

That’s interesting, I had no idea French parents don’t childproof. Well, books kind of suggest to leave some of the cupboards open to let the little ones explore. Anyway, I like healthy balance, so I leave the cupboards with bottled water, pots and pans and other harmless things open.

Has anyone found a way to effectively childproof the dishwasher?

Emma´s last blog post..Working mom: get a nervous breakdown or … get a nanny! (part 3)

14 Emma November 26, 2008

I am on top of the world – we have found a way to childproof the dishwasher. Yes, I know it sounds pathetic 🙂 But anyway, you can read about it and about my child-proofing quest in my last post.

Emma´s last blog post..Childproofing – locks that do work

15 Jessie November 26, 2008

As usual you have chosen an interesting topic to write about. Child proofing a house is most important for parents who are engaged in different jobs, businesses etc. and have to keep their children in their house hold during their duty hours. If they are capable of making their home childproof then are likely to have less tension at their workplace. I like the fact that in this article you have emphasised the need of the lock system in a house hold to make it Child proof.

16 Jessie November 27, 2008

Childproofing your home is something that you have to bear in mind in great detail, especially when children are very young. There are many obvious dangers, such as electrical sockets, but one of the best ways to detect other possible menaces is to get down on your hands and knees in each of the rooms you’re going to let your child enter and then make an effort to see the ‘world’ from their perspective. Children are naturally inquisitive about anything attractive, so take a good close scrutiny of your home and make sure that you keep it as safe as possible for them as well as for you.

Jessie´s last blog post..You Want To Retire Someday – How Much Should You Save Today and Should You Bother?

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