Is your little one beginning to explore your living room? Are you concerned about keeping them safe as they enter the “explorer” phase?
For most families, the living room is where everyone comes together, which makes it one of the most important places to babyproof in your home.
Unfortunately, the living room may also be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house — in some obvious and not-so-obvious ways. In this guide, we’ll teach you exactly what you need to do to babyproof your living room.
How To Safety Test Your Furniture
The average living room is occupied by various pieces of furniture such as couches, desks, bookshelves, and coffee tables. They may seem like everyday objects, but to someone small, they could mean falls, scrapes, bumps, and cuts.
To get a good idea about the safety situation in your living room, it’s a great idea to put all your furniture to the test.
1. Feel for edges and corners
Have you ever hit your knee on the corner of your heavy wooden coffee table, or swiped your shoulder on the side of the bookshelf? It hurts — and it could be worse for your toddler.
To test for edges and sharp corners, run your hand and over every edge and corner and make notes of the ones that seem hazardous. When your little one is learning to crawl, stand, and walk, they’re going to be falling and tumbling a lot.
It’s important to know where the bumping danger zones are!
2. Change your perspective
Get down on your hands and knees and see your living room from an entirely new angle. From up high, things may seem less dangerous than they are on the same eye-level as your toddler.
Once you start looking from the perspective of a child, you’ll begin to notice things that may attract curious fingers, or are just waiting to be run into. Spotting problems from down low helps prevent you from missing any key details you may not have noticed while standing.
3. Wobble your furniture
Toddlers aren’t very strong, but they’re more trouble than you’d think. When learning to crawl or beginning to walk, kids will tug on anything they can reach and use it for support. Can your furniture withstand a tiny human throwing their body weight at it?
The best way to answer this is to try it for yourself. Using the force your toddler has — and will develop — gently shake any furniture that could be less secure than it seems. This could be anything from a bookcase to a decorative plant.
Anything that tips easily is bad news… but what can you do about it?
6 Tips For Babyproofing Your Furniture
Once you’ve identified the danger zones and know which furniture is most likely to pose a risk to your curious tot, you can move on to the really exciting stage. Welcome to babyproofing!
Babyproofing furniture is a big job, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or extremely time-consuming.
Identifying the key areas and solving problems creatively can keep your home safe without breaking the bank or entirely changing the aesthetic of your living room.
1. Soften Up
Remember those edges you searched for? It’s time to soften them up. You can do this many ways, from DIY fixes to store-bought solutions.
Every family and living room decor will use a different remedy, but here are some of the best ways to keep your little one from hurting themselves on sharp corners.
- Buy corner protectors.
- Invest in edge guards.
- Use plumbing foam pipe to cover edges.
- Use hollow pool noodles to cover edges.
Whether you hit the baby store or the hardware store, plenty of online tutorials will show you the way forward.
2. Remove unstable furniture
Some things can’t be fixed up for a baby. The good news is that they won’t be small forever but, while they are, it may be best to store floor lamps and breakable vases or potted plants out of reach.
If you’re using baby gates or are willing to rearrange your furniture, move these unstable breakables to areas your baby can’t access.
3. Keep surfaces clear
The more clutter on your flat surfaces, the more your baby will be drawn to explore them. Coffee tables with open cups or easily accessible electronics are both dangerous and asking for a mess!
Staying on top of organization and tidiness is a great way to beat danger and minimize cleaning after a long day of chasing kiddos around. Find alternative storage places for clutter, and move objects up higher out of reach.
4. Lay down a non-slip rug
Rugs are an easy safety solution for hardwood floors or tiles. They offer cushion for falls and trips while doubling as a playmat. (Plus, the right rug can really pull a room together!)
Many rugs are manufactured to be non-slip. However, if you already have a rug that isn’t non-slip, and you’re not willing to part with it, consider investing in a rug pad.
5. Find safe alternatives
If you have the means to do so, replacing some of the furniture in your living room can go a long way in the safety department. Some of the most dangerous objects in your living room have safe, stylish alternatives.
Consider switching your coffee table for an ottoman! Many ottomans offer extra storage, and you can rest your feet on top without worrying about the hard edges coffee tables have.
Other common troublesome objects are floor lamps and curtains. If you change your floor lamp for a table lamp, and floor-length curtains for blinds, you entirely eliminate two major danger zones from your living room.
6. Strategically arrange your furniture
By using couches, baskets, or other natural barriers, you can make an area for your toddler to enjoy while keeping the danger zones off-limits. Baby gates can play a big part in this, too.
Some rearranging can go a long way. Placing a large decorative pillow or bean bag chair in front of outlets or wall lamps can keep that area kid-friendly. Get creative and just start shoving things back and forth until you find what works!
Safety Testing Your TV
Any electronic device is like the Bat-signal for your kid — they’re drawn to them like it’s their life’s mission.
Your TV poses a huge risk for your toddler, so taking these safety test steps are important to your babyproofing adventure.
1. Check for cords
Once more, get down low, and see things from your child’s point of view. All those little flashing lights and big buttons? You can bet money your toddler won’t stop messing with them.
Also make a note of any hanging cords, exposed plugs, and devices within a toddler’s reach. Think about your child’s safety, and the safety of your electronics, too. Being aware of what your tiny tot can reach will alert you to things placed directly in harm’s way.
DVD players, game consoles, and TVs aren’t cheap, so avoid a damaging disaster before it happens by relocating them up high.
2. Wobble the TV
Test the stability of the stand and base of your devices — carefully, so as to avoid damage. If things wobble a lot, threaten to fall off, or lean drastically, chances are they’re going to hurt your little explorer.
4 Tips For Babyproofing Your TV
Honestly? The main trick to babyproofing your TV area is hiding things. Fewer objects out in the open, tempting your toddler, means less attention they’ll pay to the area in general.
Here are 4 tips to create a safe screen space for your family to enjoy.
1. Hide your devices
Getting a TV stand with closing cabinets for storage is your best bet at protecting both the baby and the electronics. This will reduce the chance of their discovery and solve the problem before it even begins!
If a new TV stand isn’t in the family budget for babyproofing, you have other options, too. A small basket next to your TV stand can work as out-of-sight storage, or you can get a shelf out of reach to place electronics on.
2. Secure the TV
Even more important than getting your devices safely out the way is making sure your TV is secure. There are a few different ways to do this, but using tension straps is among the easiest and least expensive ways to get the job done.
These are super easy to put up, and they’re great to have even after your child gets older because they protect your TV from earthquakes or any other accident that could knock it over.
Alternatively, you could get your TV mounted to the wall. Most retailers will offer TV mounting with the purchase and delivery of your TV, but some places like Best Buy will offer services at any time (source).
If you feel confident, mounting your TV can be done yourself at home with the right tools.
3. Block off access to the TV
If babyproofing the whole area isn’t your cup of tea, you could just prevent access. Baby gates can help with this. Just remember that if you do this, you may have to work a little harder to access your devices and television — but it’s still worth it to keep your child safe.
4. Hide or cover your cords
Hanging cords are a major attraction to little ones. The more you have laying around, the more your baby will tug at them and get closer to an outlet. Exposed and reachable cords also pose a risk of choking and dragging objects down onto them.
Pinning your cords to a wall or investing in a cord manager device can reduce the risk they pose. Some creative positioning may come in handy here to help hide and mask your cords, too.
3 Tips For Babyproofing Your Fireplace
It probably goes without saying that fire and children really aren’t a great mix. From the allure of dancing flame to sharp hearth stones, every aspect of a fireplace poses risk to little ones. If you live in a home with a fireplace — whether you use it or not — there are a few handy things you can do to make it safe.
1. Get a restrictive gate
Getting a 3-in-1 baby gate is amazing for just about any part of your house, but their multi-purpose use really shines through when it comes to blocking off a fireplace.
They can be used to create a playpen for your baby, or opened up and extended out to block off large parts of a room.
Investing in one or two of these can be helpful with pets, older children, and blocking other parts of the house.
2. Soften up the hearth
Unfortunately, corner stickers won’t cut it when it comes to protecting your baby from the hearth. Some people get really creative, but you’ll have to be careful if you plan on using your fireplace.
Here are just a few of the ways you can cover up your hearth, both creative and practical.
- Hearth guards.
- A DIY mini couch.
3. Safely store fireplace tools
Any sort of fire pokers or tools should be kept out of reach of little ones. Consider putting them in a closet when not in use, or blocking them off with a baby gate. These items are all pretty sharp and heavy and could cause major damage if small hands got a hold of them.
5 Babyproofing Living Room Essentials
Little areas can be just as dangerous to tots as big furniture can be.
A safe living room and a happy, healthy environment for roaming kiddos should extend to every corner.
1. Outlet covers
Electrical outlets are hotspots for babies, who love to stick their little fingers into any and every opening.
2. Doorknob covers
Perfect for closets, doors to outside, and even some cabinets! These temporary and affordable covers prevent your toddler from turning any knob and getting into trouble.
3. Baby gates
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: baby gates! From the 3-in-1 model we mentioned above to short-and-shallow or extending gates, there’s a safety essential for every doorway.
4. Cabinet locks
Safety locks come in many varieties, so a little bit of looking can find you the best one for your budget and style.
5. Children’s sofa
Distraction is one of the best methods you can use when keeping your little ones off of the grownup furniture. Giving them an area of their own will make your seats seem less appealing.
5 Ways To Tackle Cleaning
A clean home is a safe home, but that’s much easier said than done with kids running around. The good news is that once you’re all set, and your living room is babyproofed, you can spend less time stopping curious fingers and more time picking up the wreckage they leave behind.
These 5 nifty ways to stay organized and tidy, while also keeping the mess to a minimum, are quick, painless, and easy to start implementing!
1. Cover delicate fabrics
Pay attention to the fabrics and surfaces in your living room, and get furniture covers for delicate fabrics. Some surfaces get sticky easier than others — and they tend to be harder to clean.
Other fabrics, like leather or vinyl, can be easily wiped down and washed off. Special surfaces that are prone to damage will be ruined quicker by kids.
2. Get baskets for easy storage
You’ve probably seen it for yourself: toys, cushions, blankets, and a huge assortment of living room accessories strewn about on the floor. Storage is always a big issue with my family since we always seem to run out of room for our stuff — this is why I’ve fallen in love with baskets!
They’re a great multi-purpose storage option, especially for fun things like toys or pillows. They’re open, visible, stylish, and easily shoved into a corner when company comes over.
3. Use shelves for decorative items
Shelves are your best friend when you have little ones. A house with plenty of shelving out of reach of tots is a safe house. Keeping things up high, yet out of limited storage closets and bins, helps reduce clutter.
This makes cleaning easier and reduces risks of things being broken.
4. Get a snacktime mat
Placemats or floor mats can change the way you look at snack time. Not all moms are willing to let their kids snack away from the table, but if you’re in need of a break, throw a mat down under a bowl of cheerios for easy cleanup.
5. Stash a hidden trash can
Miniature trash cans save lives. I have them stowed away everywhere, from my car to my entertainment system. If your family are big living room or TV dinner eaters, having a convenient trash can will help cut down on the crumbs and wrappers that would otherwise end up in the couch.
3 Tips For Babyproof Decorating
Home is where the heart is, and many of us are super attached to how we’ve decorated our living spaces. One major issue I had with babyproofing was how ugly all the devices were. Did the design companies not even bother to try and make something blend in?
After some messing around, I found a few great ways to keep up the style of my home without skimping on the safety.
Here are my top 3 tricks to maintaining a fashionable living room your toddler can still thoroughly enjoy!
1. Use decorative pillows
During babyproofing, my go-to distraction agent were large pillows. I have them everywhere! They cover up cords, distract from potted plants, and bring some stylish life to the living room.
As your kids get older, they’ll enjoy the pillows more, too. Forts, fights, and just lounging around are all ways my decorative pillows have become a fun part of our living room.
2. Use flameless candles
Candles are a such a relaxing pleasure, but having kids out in the living room to play and romp quickly put an end to my beloved candlelight — until I learned better.
Battery-operated flameless candles aren’t quite the same as the real thing, but they provide that same element of elegance, warmth, and togetherness that a candle brings to a family room.
3. Store toys in a cubby
Since we’ve already gone over the wonder of baskets, up the style and consider cubic shelving units for your space! You can find storage baskets to fit them perfectly and have tons of space to store things out of sight.
Enjoy Your Safe, Stylish Living Room
Babyproofing the living room isn’t an easy job and it isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s far from impossible! Every family has to go through the wringer with this one.
Have you started babyproofing? Have any tips or tricks to share? Let us in on your secrets in the comments below.