There’s a huge difference from that little baby we used to have who could barely sit up and just reaches for things to the energetic firecracker of a toddler whose goal is to explore each and every inch of our home while leaving a disaster in her tracks. Our 1 year old daughter has become the latter, leading us to get our house toddler-proofed quickly!
Toddlers at this age are little sponges and absorb everything they can take in through all their senses. This also means they are into EVERYTHING. I can’t leave a door ajar, cabinet opened, or purse unzipped without her getting into it. If I forget to do one of these things, usually I find her elbows-deep in the toilet bowl or tupperware lids scattered all through out the house.
While I love that she is exploring because this is her hands-on approach to learning about the world around her, I can’t help but go crazy with the mess she makes while simultaneously putting her safety at risk. Now, our once lovely decorated home has become bare bones. No more decorative glass vases, but tissue boxes as the centerpiece to our coffee table, instead.
We started baby proofing our home when our daughter was around 9 months (as soon as she started crawling around and pulling herself up to stand). We thought it was too early, but it really creeps up on you fast once they become mobile!
Getting your house toddler ready doesn’t just include safety concerns, but ways to reduce messes and promote independence, as well. They want to start doing things on their own and feel so accomplished doing so.
Below are some tips and ideas that have helped us to be sure that our daughter doesn’t hurt herself and make a mess of our house when she has the chance.
This post may contain affiliate links which I would receive a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
For Safety Concerns
Foam mats for hardwood floors
When we were buying a new home before we had children, I just HAD to have all hardwood floors. Then I had babies and realized that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Make sure you cover as much area as you can with rugs or foam play mats because they will fall, A LOT. These foam mats are super chic and should blend in well with most homes so that you don’t need to completely ruin your decor with rainbow colored playmats in your living room. They are actually interlocking foam pieces, but look just like a nice rug!
Don’t leave anything hanging close to the edge of a table
If you think it’s out of their reach, you’re wrong! They can reach a lot farther than you think and anything within about 12″ of the edge of a table, shelf, or counter can and WILL be taken. So don’t leave knives hanging over the edge of a counter while cooking (I was guilty of that) or a hot cup of coffee close to the edge of your end table. I recently heard of a toddler getting severe burns from grabbing their mom’s hot coffee off the table. Don’t let that happen to your baby!
Magnetic cabinet locks or hair ties
Don’t think that you only have to worry about dangerous chemicals when baby proofing. Anything can be a hazard when dealing with toddlers. They can drop a heavy pot on their toe, put a tupperware container over their face, or prick themselves on the sharp edges of a cheese grater. Since we couldn’t put ALL of our kitchen supplies up high, we had to resort to locking the cabinets.
These magnetic locks work great and they’re not an eyesore like other cabinet locks I’ve seen. The only draw back is that you have to get the magnet key to unlock them every time. However, if you know your toddler isn’t going to be in the kitchen while you’re making dinner, you can keep them unlocked so you don’t have to unlock it every time.
We started using these on just our kitchen cabinets, but too new realized we needed them in the bathrooms and any other drawers and cabinets we had in the house. They’re easy to install keep your child out.
If you don’t want to buy locks or need a temporary fix, I also like the hair tie trick. If your cabinets have 2 knobs side by side, you can just tie a hair tie around them to ensure they can’t get in. I like to bring extra hair ties when I go to homes that are not baby proofed so my child can’t get into any one else’s cabinets as well!
Keep them away from the oven while cooking
Make sure they don’t get too close to the oven or stove while you’re cooking. The outside of the door can get very hot on some stoves and hot oil or liquids could splash and hit them.
Stove knob covers
My daughter started trying to turn the stove knobs which could be very dangerous if I didn’t realize and it started releasing gas. Get these hinged stove knob covers if your little one will be around the kitchen often.
Don’t keep plugs hanging
We’re guilty of leaving of our computer and iPhone cords/plugs lying around the house. Your toddler will put the end right in their mouth and it could be very dangerous if the other end is plugged into the wall.
You’ll need these so your little ones don’t stick their fingers into the outlet. These outlet covers from Amazon come with more than enough to cover your whole house at a great price.
Gate off stairs
You will need a gate especially at the top of your stairs because falling down is more dangerous that going up. We had a hard time getting one to fit our stairwell entrance because of the molding on the wall and the posts. This Munchkin gate ended up working best for us and we still had to makeshift a wooden piece in the wall to fit it around the chair rail molding.
Anti-slip mat in bathtub
The tub can be dangerous once your baby even starts pulling up to stand. They could easily slip if you don’t have a mat. These are great mats that are extra long to cover the whole length of the tub and provide good suction so your toddler won’t slip and fall. However, If you have a tub that already has a raised surface it may not stick.
Faucet cover in tub
This faucet cover is made of a soft rubber material so your child doesn’t bump his head on the hard metal faucet of the tub.
Remove anything heavy or breakable from surfaces at or below waist level
They can reach a lot higher than you think. At first they will just go after objects on the floor level or a little above, but very quickly they will be able to reach all the way to counter or bar height. Anything overlapping the edge of a counter or coffee table should also be removed.
Plastic corners for table edges
If you have any tables with sharp corners, use these corner protectors to keep your toddlers head protected.
Block off fireplace
We just ended up pushing our coffee table up against ours (so we can’t really use it anymore), but if you find a better way to block it off, I’d love to hear!
Pillows under crib
If you think your toddler may be ready to climb out of his crib (this may not happen until at least 18 months), place pillows under the sides of the crib in case they fall.
You can use these to block off areas where the child shouldn’t be going, as well as just sectioning off a room for them to stay in as their designated play area. This Regalo baby gate works really well because it can be used as a playpen when they are a little younger and not as mobile. Once they don’t want to be contained in there anymore, you can use it as a gate for a door way. It’s also extra wide so you can use it for very large doorways.
Only give milk cups and food in the high chair or kitchen
We made the mistake of giving our daughter her milk sippy cup all through out the day because I was worried about her drinking enough. Well after lots of spills and splashes from carrying her sippy cup all over the house, I realized she should only have milk during meal times and give her water through out the day.
Put locks on garbage can/toilets
This would frustrate me the most- when my daughter would pull out gross things from the garbage and stick her hands into the toilet. The magnetic locks don’t work on anything besides the cabinets, but these strap locks are a great way to keep your kids out of all of the above. I didn’t believe that a toddler would get into all of these places, but trust me they do!
Keep all doors closed
Instead of having to worry about making sure toilet lids are closed and everything is put away, just be sure to keep all your rooms, closets, pantry and bathroom doors closed at all times. Keeping them out of these spaces will give you less mess scattered throughout your home.
Put items in higher drawers, if possible
When I have to get stuff done in my bedroom, I bring my daughter in with me and close the door. She loves to go through all the drawers of my dresser and night stand and take EVERYTHING out. Tons of articles of clothing scattered around the floor. So if possible, clean out your drawers and try to leave your bottom drawers empty.
Store chemicals & medications up high
Unless the cabinets are locked, move any potentially hazardous materials to higher ground.
Keep all of their belongings in one room
This can be difficult because your toddler will want to be anywhere that you are. We just made a whole playroom for my daughter, but she just drags her toys to the living room or kitchen so she can hang out with mom. Do your best to keep the toys in one space by gating it off to reduce clutter around the floor .
Tissue boxes or wipes out in different rooms
Toddlers are always getting runny noses or dirty faces. Be prepared and have extra tissue boxes around your house. I have a box in my kitchen, living room, toddler’s room, and every bathroom. You never know when you’ll need one!
Sink faucet extenders
We started using these faucet extenders when our daughter was 14 months and starting to be interested in brushing her teeth and washing her hands like mom and dad. Although we still have to help her turn on the sink, she can reach the water by herself which she loves.
Step stool at sinks
Give your child the independence to stand at the sink herself when brushing her teeth or washing her hands. These step stools are great! They have a little carrying handle for when you want to move them around, a non-slip surface, and 2 steps which is necessary for a 1 year old to reach most surfaces.
You may think it’s too early to start ‘potty training,’ but I think it’s never too early to start introducing it. Of course, they’re already going to see mom and dad using the toilet and they may be curious, so why not give them their own seat to explore with? This potty seat fits right on your own toilet so you don’t have to transition them from making on a separate little toilet to your own toilet. I’m in the process of potty training my 15 month old and this potty seathas been great to slowly get her acclimated with her own potty.
Toy Cleaning supplies
Babies love to imitate mom & dad and you will surely be doing a lot of cleaning. Get them a toy broom or vacuum so they can help out and practice cleaning with you. This toy Dyson vacuum actually has suction that works so they will really helping! This Melissa & Doug Broom set is also a great product to let them start cleaning. They will be so happy to be part of the cleaning routine!
Related Post: How to Make Meal Time Less Messy
Related Post: Holiday Gift Guide: Best Toys for 1 Year Olds
Do you have any other good ideas for preparing your house for your toddler? Good luck!