Childproofing is a necessary, but pricey, part of raising kids.
The costs of outlet covers, corner bumpers, cabinet locks and stairway gates can quickly add up, especially when you add in the price of professional installation. By some estimates, parents spend anywhere from roughly $100 to $1,000 childproofing their home.
The good news is that there are ways to cut some of these costs. Here are seven frugal childproofing tricks, including some I recently covered on HintMama.
1. Skip buying special stovetop covers. Childproof stoves for free by simply popping off stove knob covers. You can store the knobs in a bowl (or drawer) by the stove and pop them back on as needed. I learned this trick from a professional childproofer and it works like a charm.
2. Avoid buying toilet paper roll guards. Instead of buying special products to protect your toilet paper from little hands, consider putting the roll in so you have to pull the paper upward to unravel it, making the unraveling task a little more difficult for a toddler. Another frugal idea is to make your own toilet paper cover, following one of these designs, or try simply storing the paper out of your child’s reach.
3. Cut down the number of outlet covers you need. Instead of buying covers for outlets you don’t use, consider this frugal trick from the authors of the book Baby Bargains: Move heavy furniture in front of unused outlets to hide them.
4. Use a beanbag chair to childproof a fireplace. Rather than buying yet another safety gate to block off the inside of a fireplace, consider stuffing a beanbag chair into the space, another tip I learned from a childproofing pro (he also said the chairs can be used to childproof other hard-to-secure spots like ledges). And unlike gates, beanbags can double as comfortable chairs and still be useful once it’s time for childproofing equipment to come down. Just make sure to use a beanbag that comes with a childproof closure.
5. Use old swaddling blankets as crib rail protectors. Is your child gnawing on his or her crib top? Instead of shelling out cash for special crib rail childproofing products, consider this super easy DIY crib teething guard solution: tie old swaddling blankets tightly around the crib top to protect the furniture from little teeth (and to protect little ones from eating wood and paint). Not only does this approach save you money, it also provides a new use for old blankets that likely would otherwise be packed away.
6. Create distractions where you can. Another frugal tip from a professional: Childproof areas you want your child to stay away from by creating a nearby distraction that will keep the kids occupied. For instance, to keep our daughter away from potentially dangerous spots in the kitchen, we transformed part of the room into a play area for her, filling it with her toys and safe kitchen items (like measuring cups). You can read more about similar distractions we set up here.
7. If possible, childproof at least some of your cabinets for free. There are a number of ways to cut down the number of cabinet safety locks you’ll need. For certain cabinet models, this trick from Heloise might work: Put a rolled-up magazine or a bicycle lock through the cupboard door handles. Meanwhile, Parent Hacks suggests hiding cabinet knobs behind towels, a variation of the distraction method I mention above.
To be sure, you’ll want to make sure all toxic chemicals and choking hazards are secured in cabinets out of reach. And certainly, the cheapest childproofing method of all is supervision, something no babyproofing method, whether free or not, can replace.
What are your strategies and tips for childproofing on the cheap? Share them in the comments.