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Gates, Plugs, and Guards, Oh My: Childproofing Your Home

There’s no way around it: If you are a new parent or are new to having children in your home, you will need to make a few adjustments. Some of these modifications are free, easy, and intuitive, while others will require a little more effort and perhaps a small investment. Here are some items, big and small, that you will want to consider when creating a child-friendly home.

General Adjustments

  • Baby Gates: You will want to invest in baby gates to limit access to rooms and off-limit areas to the little ones. Only use gates that are attached to the wall (not a pressure gate) at the top of stairs.
  • Babyproof Your Fireplace and Hearth: You can do this in several ways: use a baby gate around the area, use a fireplace screen, or use a soft edge and corner guards, for example. Apartment Therapy offers some stylish ways to convert your fireplace into a safe area for babies and kids.
  • Window Guards: Depending on the type of windows you have, there are different ways to make them safer for children. This parent guide explains window types and kid-proofing.


  •  Secure the Refrigerator: Childproof locking devices made for securing refrigerators come in many shapes, sizes, and prices. Parent Guide has more information, as well as additional advice: For example, make sure to keep under the fridge clean because small hands can get under there!
  • Oven Safety: Use knob covers on the oven or remove the knobs when not in use. Latches are very inexpensive and will ensure children can’t accidentally open a hot oven.


  •  Lock the Toilet: Yes, you do need to lock down your toilet lid, for a few reasons: to prevent toddlers from accidentally falling in; to protect young fingers from being hurt by a heavy, closing lid; and to prevent little ones from throwing toys and other items (like cell phones) into the toilet. Trust us, this one is important.
  • Adjust the Water Heater: Adjust your water heater so that the temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) when on the hottest setting.


  • Power Strips: Use power strip covers that slide over your existing power strip and have a cutout from which the cords can hang.
  • Electrical Outlets: There are a variety of plug caps available, from simple plastic covers to squeeze-type locking guards that adults can remove but kids can’t. Keep in mind that the common plastic inserts can be a choking hazard. “Opt for self-sliding outlet covers,” advises This Old House. “These covers slide closed when nothing is plugged in and prevent a child from working their fingers into the socket.” If you need to use the outlet, outlet covers that encase plugged-in cords are also available.