Babyproofing 101

By Lisa Lewis


Advanced planning keeps baby safe and helps you to stop saying “No.”

Oakland mom DiAnn Cardona remembers quite well the day her son Garris, now 1, started crawling.


“He woke up one morning and just started crawling everywhere,” she recalls. “It was supposed to be this cherished moment – instead it turned out to be one filled with panic. I had no safety gates, no plug covers, nothing!”


Being caught unprepared, like Cardona, isn’t unusual.


“A lot of parents are afraid of being overwhelmed (by the babyproofing process),” notes Martin Simenc, owner of Home Safety Services, a babyproofing company based in Foster City. As a result, many wait until their child is already exploring the house before taking action.


Protect Baby’s Favorite Places

Simenc recommends a three-step process to make babyproofing a more manageable task: first identify the child’s primary “hangout” areas in the home and enclose them with safety gates, then address the hazards within those areas and finally, re-evaluate those hazards as the child grows.


“It’s not a one-time process,” Simenc cautions.


Even so, the defined hangout areas aren’t places where parents can leave their child unattended, he notes, but rather are areas where “the parent doesn’t have to constantly be saying ‘no.’”


There are numerous items that can pose hazards to children, Simenc says, ranging from electrical outlets to unbraced furniture to dangling electrical cords. As a starting point for parents beginning the babyproofing process, he’s developed a checklist that can be found on his Web site at


Rachel Murray, owner of Safe and Sound Children, a babyproofing company based in Oakland that serves the entire Bay Area, tells parents the number one priority is stairs, followed by cabinet latches and then electrical outlets. She notes that gates at the top of stairs must be screwed in to the wall, as opposed to pressure gates, which can fall if a child pushes hard enough. In addition, she recommends that parents select stairway gates that are easy to use and ideally can be operated with one hand. Murray has a list of specific gates she recommends on her Web site at


Overlooked Areas

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Window protection is an often-overlooked aspect, Simenc notes. Any window safety device needs to both prevent the child from opening the window more than 4 inches and also be over-ridden, so that the window can be used as an exit in case of emergency, he says. Other often-overlooked safety devices are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Murray notes that window blinds can pose another hazard. “Many people aren’t aware (that) kids have been strangled in the slats,” she says. “I tell everybody to move their cribs away from the windows.”

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oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">She also tries to convince parents of the importance of what she calls “the dreaded toilet latches.” “Most people really resist them,” she says, because they think they’re inconvenient. “I let them know children have drowned (in toilets).” The latches also “keep kids from frolicking in there.”

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oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Murray notes that parents also need to be aware that plants are among the top causes of poisoning in children. For a detailed list of the toxicity of many plants, visit

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oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Resources

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Home Safety Services

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">888-388-3811

Price: $60 per hour for a home assessment, which usually lasts one to one-and-a-half hours. Installation averages $600-$700, but can vary greatly based on the size of the home, the contents and configuration of the home and the specific devices installed.


Safe & Sound Children


Price: $150 per consultation, which usually lasts two hours. Installation is $65 an hour, although it can vary greatly based on the size of the home and scope of the work, the median is about $800.


Baby Proof Pool Safety System




Child Guard Pool Fences



Protect A Child Pool Fence Co.



The Childproofer



Baby Super

1523 Parkmoor Ave,

San Jose



Lullaby Lane

556 San Mateo Ave.

San Bruno



Toys R Us

Several South Bay locations


Lisa Lewis is a freelance writer and mother based in Alameda.