Baby-Friendlifying the House
It’s hard to blog about projects that aren’t already exactly how I want them to end up, but then I think that baby-friendlifying (I’m calling it that rather than “baby proofing”, because I doubt I’ll be able to make anything completely baby proof) the house is going to be a continually evolving project anyway. So, keeping in mind that I’m watching baby closely and improving/altering things as needed, here’s how things stand currently.
The TV console (aka Expedit unit from Ikea) needed the most immediate work since the floor in front of the TV is the primary play zone. Here is a picture from an old post that shows pretty much how it’s looked for the past year or so:
Across the top we had board games, the PS3, and the media computer taking up two cubbies, so we left out the vertical divider on that side when we assembled the unit. Across the bottom there are two storage cubes holding various extra controllers and blankets, and then a whole bunch of DVDs. So far Dakota has been ignoring the upper cubbies and mostly just playing with the DVDs, but in preparation for more vertical interest, here is how the unit looks now:
The bins along the bottom all hold baby stuff now, some of it is baby blankets and jackets, but I imagine that we’ll continue to accumulate more toys and these will be overflowing soon enough. The DVDs and board games have all been moved to the bookshelves between the living room and dining room. The new doors on the top left two cubbies are an add-on accessory for the Expedit that we picked up on our last Ikea trip. They come with an insert (I believe made of pressboard) that covers the left, back and right sides of the cubby and gets screwed into the sides of the main unit. you need the added pressboard on the sides so the door fits evenly and opens/closes correctly, but since I’m hoping we can stuff most of our electronics behind these doors I cut off the back of the inserts so there will be a lot more ventilation. Also, since I wanted the doors to close towards each other, I didn’t finish screwing in the sides of the pressboard insert on the right. I’m pretty sure the screws from the two inserts would run into each other, so I’m going to need to offset the screws on the right-hand insert. sigh. I’m not sure any of that made sense, but I’ve already spent too much time describing what I hope will be a small and quickly fixed setback, so I’m not going to try and clarify any more. 🙂
The media computer is still there taking up two cubbies on the right, but it will be going away soon. We’re just waiting the arrival of a newly ordered single-board computer that can hopefully handle our non-PS3 video streaming needs. The PS3 itself still fits behind the door even with the inserts, I just had to stand it up on its side. I also have the power strip that’s full of exciting electrical plugs tucked behind the doors. Once we have everything finalized I plan to tie up the cables that are currently hanging loose but clearly visible behind the console, and that double-cubby space can hold stuffed animals or something.
To complicate things, we finally have our sound system most of the way set up. The receiver is for now sitting on top of a shelf in the right-hand corner, over the subwoofer. (Partially visible behind the cat scratching post in the picture above) So far baby has ignored it, but I haven’t decided exactly what my plan is if she starts trying to fiddle with it. Sigh.
Moving along… not super exciting visually, but here’s the dog bed:
I need to secure the antenna cable behind it to the wall, but more importantly this is the dog-priority zone. Loki is getting a bit uncomfortable with Dakota becoming more mobile and grabby, so we’re focusing on rewarding him when he responds to a stressful situation by moving away from her. I could probably write a whole separate blog post on this, but basically if he growls or barks at her we call him to his dog bed and give him treats. If Dakota approaches him in his dog bed, we pick her up and move her away, so it’s a space where he can feel comfortable. I wish we could put it in a more out of the way spot, but he still wants to be in on the social scene even when he doesn’t necessarily want a baby up in his face. So tucking it behind the chair means Dakota doesn’t notice it too much, but Loki still has a pretty good view of everything.
The fireplace was a bit of a problem, the side facing the living room had this freestanding screen:
Pretty heavy so there’s no way to knock it over accidentally, but I imagine a determined and fairly heavy baby might manage to pull it over on herself. I debated just screwing it into the facade directly, but honestly I’m not very fond of the thing, and the big metal curlicues aren’t particularly baby-friendly in there own right. I shopped around a bit for a replacement, but everything was either ugly or really expensive, so I have this temporary solution for now:
Yeah we just had an extra plastic baby gate that made a pretty good tight fit in the opening. The fireplace is non functional right now anyway, so it’s not like I need something fire-safe. Dakota finds the weird wooden owl thing pretty entertaining, and I got it on clearance, with a coupon stacked on top of the clearance price, so I don’t mind if she scuffs it up a bit.
The other side of the fireplace has a frame with glass doors that’s permanently installed, with the doors glued shut even. Not very elegant looking, but not something we need to rush to change at the moment. Here’s the problem, as Dakota decided to demonstrate while I was typing this post up:
This is where we keep the dog’s water dish. The food dish isn’t a problem because we feed him after Dakota goes to bed and pick the dish up first thing in the morning. For now I’m picking the dish up when I notice her going for it and trying to remember to put it back down if we’re going out. I think I’m mostly just going to resign myself to a certain amount of water mess here though.
Another problem area is the dining table, where I work on the laptops:
I found that outlet cover in the baby-proofing section, and the little clear cable clip attached right under the window sill seems relatively sturdy. So I figure if baby starts tugging on the electrical cords at least they won’t come out of the socket, and the clip will break first before she can pull the adapters on her head. With any luck this will be enough of a delay for me to realize what she’s up to and swoop in to save the day. Long-term we hope to build a banquette along this wall, so maybe we can figure out some way to keep the outlet accessible for adults but less obvious for little ones? Hopefully we will also someday have a somewhat functional work space for computers and such in the cat room (which already has a baby gate in the doorway) but the dining room has the best table space AND the best view in the house, so I imagine there will frequently be a laptop there no matter what…
Moving to the kitchen, most of our lower cabinets have pots and tupperware, so we just added these catches to the cabinet under the sink.
Right in the front of that cabinet there’s the compost pail, the dishwasher detergent, the all-purpose cleaning spray, and the bucket that holds dirty rags/cloths, so it definitely needed locks/catches. These are working great, I can still open them one-handed and they close and lock without any extra effort. Dakota hasn’t tried opening any doors yet (we’ll have to decide how we want to secure the doors of the TV console and the bookshelves when she does) but it’s good to know that these catches work well.
There’s also this set of drawers:
The top one holds the silverware, the middle holds all the random kitchen tools (some of which aren’t baby-friendly, like the vegetable peeler) and the bottom drawer holds random rarely used stuff like a roasting pan and some salad serving utensils. I’m thinking I’ll reorganize so the bottom drawer holds baby-friendly tools like measuring cups and such. The upper two drawers will need to stay off-limits, but they aren’t super easy to open, and I can always transfer everything to a bin on top of the counter for a few days if Dakota takes an interest and we don’t instantly have a baby-proofing solution.
To finish up, we keep our shoes in these thingies:
They tip out like so:
Dakota loves chewing on shoes. Mmmm delicious shoes. I try to get them put away, and I can only hope that she outgrows her shoe-chewing ways by the time she figures out how to open these guys.