Uh-oh. Is it possible that my little one has figured out how to get into the refrigerator? Already? And what about the cabinets? It’s time to baby-proof our rental property. But how are we meant to when there are so few things we can do to make a difference? As renters, you will face some unique obstacles when it comes to baby-proofing our homes. Lucky for you, I, Mark Roemer, am here to help you with some basic things you can do to baby-proof your apartment and keep your child safe from the many perils therein.
Find a rental property that is as safe as possible for your family.
If at all possible, look at only apartments that will provide you with sufficient safety. Speaking with the landlord about any safety concerns you have when viewing a residence is a good idea when looking at a property. When it comes to fastening items onto the walls (bookcases and artwork, for example), does the landlord appear to be accommodating? This will assist you in determining whether or not you can establish a productive working connection with this individual.
In terms of the property itself, keep an eye out for the following potential issues:
- Are there any potentially hazardous falling dangers (such as an open staircase) that a gate cannot prevent?
- Are there any long wires or loops attached to the window treatments? If so, they will need to be changed, cut, or secured to the wall — it is advisable to check with your landlord ahead of time rather than having a problem later on down the road.
- Look around the premises to see if there are any unusual odors. Is there a smoker in the neighborhood, or has there ever been a smoker on the property before? Cigarette smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and should be avoided.
- Lead paint is another issue to consider if you intend to rent a place built before 1978. In older homes, look for signs of paint chipping or flaking, particularly around stairwells, window and door frames, and other architectural details. For more information, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s page on lead in homes.
Identifying and blocking off potentially hazardous areas of your home.
You may need a baby gate to keep the kids out. In the case of a rental, this means looking for a gate that is “pressure mounted.” This means that discs on the gate must be screwed out for the gate to be held against the wall. The only exception is if your rental property has a set of stairs and you require a gate at the top, in which case you must get a hard-mounted baby gate (which screws into the wall). This is because it is still feasible for a pressure-mounted gate to be pushed through in this situation. Speak with your landlord about your problem. Consider offering to patch and repaint any holes that have been left by the gate or paying to have this done if it is a significant concern. (A pressure-mounted baby gate at the foot of a flight of steps, on the other hand, is perfectly OK.)
Preventing unauthorized access to cabinets when they are required.
Many cabinet door locking systems, but not all, necessitate the installation of screws into the cabinetry. KidCo magnetic locks, which can be placed with adhesive, or Munchkin adhesive straps, which prevent climbing, are two options. If you are fortunate enough to have handles on your cupboard doors, a handle lock such as Kiscords may be a good option for you. Of course, the simplest solution is to reorganize the way your storage is organized. Pots, pans, and plastic objects should be stored in the lower cabinets of your home. At the same time, breakables and potentially dangerous items such as medicines and cleaning chemicals should be kept out of reach entirely.
Keeping children from escaping out the front door.
Several doors are far too easy to open. I have seen many strange door handles that no baby-proof cover seems to fit. Additionally, they do not stay locked when turned from the inside, which is frustrating. In other words, once your child becomes old enough, they will be able to push right through the door, and you can find yourself in a sticky situation. Remember, some units may not allow the addition of chain or lock would as housing regulations may dictate doors must always remain accessible from the outside due to fire safety concerns. If this is the case, I recommend installing a basic alarm system to warn you when the door is opened to remedy the situation. If your doors do not come with bizarre handles, you may purchase a conventional baby-proof doorknob cover at your local hardware store.
Preventing people from falling out of windows.
This is a very important, yet frequently ignored, part of infant proofing. First and foremost, make sure that your child’s crib or bed is not directly adjacent to a window, and consider relocating any furniture in their room that could be climbed on away from the window. There isn’t a single window in our house that can be opened at the bottom that is wider than my toddler’s head (which is easy since his head is in the 98th percentile). If you have a kid with a normal-sized head, you may want to consider investing in a window guard. Again, please discuss with your landlord any modifications because drilling a hole into the window frame will be necessary. It’s well worth it, and it might even save your child’s life. Guardian Angel makes excellent guards. They are a little on the pricey side, but in my humble opinion, well worth the investment. On the other hand, there are other wallet-friendly options should you find yourself needing a less expensive option.
These are just a few of the considerations you should keep in mind when baby-proofing your entire home. There are several very well-made checklists on Babycenter instructing you what to do before your baby is born, what to do before your baby starts to crawl, and what to do when your baby is a toddler and beyond for a more comprehensive approach. I, Mark Roemer, wish you the best of luck baby-proofing your home. As a parent myself, I know this can be a monumental task, and you will need all the luck you can muster.