When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband went through the childproofing checklists, making sure our home wouldn’t be a danger zone for a tot who believes the entire world is just waiting to be touched, climbed and licked. We crawled on the floor in a quest for potential hazards. We bid farewell to our sharp-edged glass coffee table. We bolted our chests of drawers to the wall, locked up our cleaning supply cabinet, and put safety covers on our electrical outlets. My daughter is five now, and still alive.
As we await the arrival of our second kid, it has occurred to me that perhaps we should at some point audit the safety of our home once again.
I realise this usually isn’t something that crosses many parents’ minds — when I asked a few friends what they did to childproof for Baby Number Two, the response was a resounding “Huh?”
But glancing around the house, the space seems even less baby-friendly than before. There are tiny toys and art supplies everywhere: LEGO bricks, marbles, beads, teeny googly eyes, Rainbow Loom bands, buttons, miniature cars, and rubber dolls with itty bitty shoes and sunglasses. Stuff that my daughter plays with daily. Stuff that, to a curious infant, looks delicious.
Once Kid Two becomes mobile, we’ll probably have to reorganise and set some new guidelines. Here are some ways to re-childproof your home the second time around, as shared by members of the Lifehacker parenting Facebook group.
Set up a “Big Kid Toy Zone”. Many parents put their babies in playpens, but crawlers need space to move and explore. I like the idea of creating a small enclosed area for the big kid toys — the LEGO bricks, the Calico Critters, and anything else with easily swallowable pieces. Call it the “Big Kid Toy Zone” and the older child(ren) will proudly keep it exclusive.
A mum named Louise did this and says it worked out wonderfully. “My oldest not only had a place where he could safely play with his stuff, he also had an area that he could use when he felt overwhelmed by his little sister, who thought he was the most fascinating creature on earth and would be stuck to his side every moment of the day if we let her,” she writes.
- Organise toys by danger level. On shelves, use the basic low-to-high guideline: Place the safest toys on the lowest levels and toys with small parts on the highest ones or in closets. You might decide to bring down the big kid toys only when the baby is napping or otherwise out of the way.
“Childproof your child, not your house.” This is the basic advice that a mum named Amanda was given. “Aside from making sure small things were out of reach, we taught our kids to leave harmful things alone at an early age,” she writes. “That includes chemicals, outlets and stairs.”
If your older children are at least four or five, they can learn to always put their toys away, especially those with little pieces, and alert you to any potential hazards.