There is probably as much in these areas to keep safe from your toddler as vice versa. Today’s homes are typically built with large openings to the various common living and formal areas. For the most part it is difficult to keep a curious toddler from wandering room to room, always on the lookout for new and interesting things to investigate.
For standard door openings under 42″ there are a number of expansion style gates which are held in place by pressure. Check for ease of operation, some of these gates can be a real pain to use and are borderline junk.
We often recommend the Center Gateway by KidCo.
All electrical outlets within reach need to be covered properly; especially the in-use outlets (refer back to the MASTER BEDROOM for more details on outlet covers). Self-closing outlet cover plates (not the little stick-in plug caps) need to be in place over dormant outlets.
You can see a few choices at pretty good prices by clicking here.
Vertical cords and curtain draw strings warrant your attention (refer back to the MASTER BEDROOM), particularly on windows with furniture close enough to allow climbing on a sill.
Breakable items should be removed from low shelves and accessible areas until your child can be trusted not to touch these. Just saying NO to most children is not a substitute for putting your more breakable or precious items out of reach. If you do not and it is broken it is your fault, NOT your child’s! Not all children are the same, even in the same household. Some will not touch, most will, if given the opportunity. We all love the mom who looks disdainfully at someone else’s twelve month old toddler and says something like “Can’t you teach that child not to touch, I did mine.” We love her all the more when she has her next child and life becomes hell on Earth at her household. You can provide guidance for your toddler, but as we all know, they are going to do basically as they please unless physically restricted. Not much reasoning with a one year old.
Decorative glass or metal items left within reach of a toddler make excellent weapons against windows, your television, glass top tables, your friend’s toddler, etc.
Check for any dangling cords from lamps, appliances, or telephone cords. Most of these can be wrapped up neatly with wind-up cord shorteners or stuffed behind a piece of furniture out of reach.
Lamps on tables can have their cords secured to the table with cord guards. These are very effective in keeping the lamp from being pulled off a high table by the cord. In-use electrical outlet cover boxes should be in place to keep him from touching partially exposed plug prongs.
Top heavy glass or metal lamps on low tables require close supervision. If he starts pulling on these, move them out of reach for a while. Free standing lamps present problems if they can be pushed over into a window, sliding glass door, pulled over onto a glass table or other piece of furniture. Most are not heavy enough to injure a child (unless it is a friend standing where the lamp is going to land when pulled over), but the bulb can very easily be broken from the impact and scatter nice little bits of sharp glass you can collect for a few days.
Check out any book shelves. Are they sturdy? Secured to the wall? Could a toddler climb them? Would the shelf fall over if it was climbed on to its highest point?
Keep dining room, kitchen and desk chairs pushed all the way in under the table. Look around for other staging platforms that your toddler might take advantage of in an effort to gain a different view of his world.
Sharp corners and edges on furniture can be protected with great difficulty by installing cushions made for this purpose. Be sure if you use a manufactured brand of corner cushion that they are secure and your toddler will not be able to pull them off and possibly choke. For pieces of furniture that you do not wish to move and cannot protect with any items on the market; use some type of padding (cloth diapers, split tennis balls) secured with duct tape. White plumbing insulation split in half works well on some items. Sometimes a simple quilt over the table top will provide the protection you are looking for. All these suggestions are hideous from a decorating stand point, oh well.
Glass curio cabinets should be monitored carefully along with other types of glass furniture. You may want to consider storing these types of pieces until you have gained more control over your home again. Security window film (similar to what is used on jewelry store and bank windows) is available to keep glass from shattering if it should be broken.
Pay attention to what you and guests put down on low tables. Hot beverages can scald or burn a child’s skin and mouth. Some printed materials contain coatings and inks that can be toxic if ingested in quantity. Both of these items are common on low tables. Be careful.
Again, do not rely on NO as your only layer of protection. A child is not responsible at twelve months old. If something is broken or he gets hurt because you thought that NO was sufficient and he would remember this warning or even understand; only you are to blame, not the child.
Verify that those house plants within reach are not of a toxic variety or poisonous, many are. Besides dangers and discomforts that can be experienced from eating toxic varieties of plants, all low plants represent a very real choke hazard if eaten. Put these plants (even the silk) up temporarily until your toddler can be taught (actually when he decides not to is more accurate) not to eat everything at hand.
Check whether or not larger potted plants or small trees can be pulled over. Most are very heavy and will stay in place. Dirt and base trim will probably be distributed equally across your floor and in his mouth if within reach.
Fortunate enough to have a private retreat in your home like a study, office, or sewing room? Keep it that way! Designate this as your domain and make sure that it is barricaded and totally off limits. It will remain “private” even when it seems you have lost control of the rest of the house. Loose paper clips, staples, office waste, and pins can be tough items to keep up with. They find their way to a crawling baby’s mouth with incredible speed and accuracy (much more accurate than with food). If you drop it, he will find it before you do!
Patio screens can be protected with screen grills or metal mesh on lower panels designed for this purpose. Solid barriers like Plexiglas or standard sheet metal screen protectors can cut down drastically on ventilation making your patio area unbearable at a toddler’s level in the summer. Do not forget to have high locks installed on screen doors.
Eventually a high deadbolt lock will be required on your front door to keep him in. An alarm system that can be programmed to beep inside the home when perimeter doors are opened will give a third layer of protection against him leaving your domain on his own.
Door knob covers are an inexpensive alternative that might prove to be effective in keeping him from opening doors to off limits areas until about age three, but only if they will work on your knobs properly. Get used to opening doors for visitors if you use this type of slip knob cover.