Have you been struggling with how to baby proof for your climber?
This is a totally different ball of wax then babyproofing for an actual baby who only knows how to crawl or toddle.
Climbers present their own set of unique challenges because they seem to get everywhere!
- They climb over baby gates,
- They end up on countertops,
- They use chairs to get on top of tables,
- They use bookshelves for footholds,
- They will commandeer your kitchen stools, and
- They practically swing from the chandeliers like little monkeys!
In fact, I remember one day finding my “toddler”, aka climber, sitting on top of the refrigerator. It almost gave me a heart attack!
He had used the handles on the drawers as a ladder to get to the kitchen counter and I still to this day have no idea how he hauled himself all the way up onto the fridge.
Here are 12 great tips to keep your child safe once they have mastered the art of climbing
Are baby gates your friend or foe? We will let you know!
All of my kids have been super adept at climbing and mastered stairs and ladders within weeks of learning to walk. In the case of my youngest daughter, she could climb before she even finished mastering walking!
So, if your child is anything like mine, you definitely have your work cut out for you. So what can you do to help keep them safe, sound, and closer to the ground? Try these tips and try not to freak out too much!
#1: Install Extra-Tall Baby Gates
First things first, if your kid isn’t too tall and has only begun to climb, you can buy yourself some time by investing in a few extra-tall gates.
Here is where you get to rejoice that some very smart soul has blessed us with this fantastic invention. With vertical bars and no horizontal footholds, this will help keep your little one contained into a room that you have baby-proofed.
But this will only work so long…
#2: Remove your Baby Gates
Yes, I know this website is all about getting your baby gates up and functioning. But once your child has grown a bit taller and reached next-step “climber” stage, it is time to put those puppies away!
Take ‘em down, stash ‘em, store ‘em, and mourn the fact that they can no longer work for you anymore.
A climber who can get over tall gates is in greater danger trying to get over them then they would be if you just eliminate them altogether. Sorry, it’s just the hard, cold facts.
#3: Secure All Tall Furniture to the Wall
There are these super cool little doo-hickies called “Furniture Straps” or “Furniture Anchors” that need to be installed properly between your wall and your bookshelves, dressers, hutch, entertainment center, etc…
These will keep dangerous climbing from becoming traumatic, life-altering disasters by keeping furniture from tipping over and either falling on top of your child or dropping their contents on little miss or mister.
#4: Eliminate or Store Ladders and Step Stools
I know it’s handy, especially when you are short like me, to keep these tools hanging around the house for the sake of convenience.
But…sorry, this is a season in your life when you will either need to do without or learn to stash them away when you finish using them.
Pain in the butt, I know. We actually had to even change bunk beds in the older kids’ room because they had one with a non-removable ladder that was too much of a temptation for our new climber.
#5: Remove Drawer Handles
I’m not saying forever, but for now, yeah, if you have a bank of drawers, a climber will be drawn to these like a moth to a flame. Just unscrew them and put them away for a while. It won’t be as convenient to open your drawers, but you’ll make do.
#6: Put Drawer & Door Locks on your Drawers and Cabinet Doors
Because your climber will quickly learn how to pull these out and use them as stepping stones, never give them the opportunity to even discover this fabulous shortcut.
I highly suggest that you actually do this long before you have a climber, so maybe I should say…don’t remove these locks because they are still doing an important job.
#7: Install Appliance Locks
Climbers who discover how to open the washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, etc… are at particular risk for immense danger. Get ahead of them by installing locks that don’t grant them access.
You don’t want tragedy, so don’t mess around with this. Just get them and don’t procrastinate. If they never discover the joy of opening an appliance, they’ll never get the fever for it.
#8: Install Door Knob Covers
Since baby gates aren’t necessarily able to contain your climber, the next best solution is to physically keep them out of rooms that have doors.
Do this by keeping knob covers on every handle and remembering to close every door when you pass through.
This is especially important for bedrooms, bathrooms, the laundry room, the office, and the kitchen, if your home has a kitchen door (not common in today’s modern house!).
#9: Keep Your Table Cleared Off
The truth is that keeping your climber off your table is probably going to be a losing battle.
Many kids get so good at navigating from chair to table that the only way to stop them would be to remove your chairs completely. However, for most families, that would just be an extreme move.
An alternative to that is simply to make sure that there is nothing interesting on the table to tempt them or make their maneuvering up there more dangerous.
Tablecloths, glass dishes, or centerpieces should simply be removed until your child passes this stage completely.
#10: Think about Stair Safety
This is going to look different depending on your child’s maturity and your actual stairs.
- Is your climber able to be properly taught how to go up AND down safely?
- Are your stairs carpeted?
- Is the floor at the bottom of the stairs concrete, wood, carpeted, or what?
- Can you use a tall baby gate that keeps your child off the stairs?
Think about all these factors and create a plan of action. If the stairs are just too dangerous to navigate, no matter what, then you will have to block access.
But some climbers can be taught to use stairs, so weigh this possibility and compare the risks vs. benefits.
# 11: Create Safe Climbing Spaces
Not exactly “baby-proofing” but in a way, it is.
You see, kids who are developmentally ready to climb need a safe way to exercise this deep desire.
The more they are encouraged to climb safely, perhaps with playground equipment or in a controlled environment, the more they are likely to use these outlets to channel their climbing energy.
In this way, you are baby-proofing them from the inside out!
#12: Prioritize Parental Supervision
Since climbers simply cannot be contained in the same way that younger babies are, it simply is going to take more effort to keep a good watch on them.
Try tag-teaming with other members of the family so that there is always someone who is “keeping an eye” on the climber.
It’s exhausting and takes a lot of patience, but it is really the only sure-fire way to keep them from getting into major trouble.
I hope these tips help you to think about all the different ways you can keep your house properly baby-proofed for your climber.
The only consolation I can offer to you is that this stage doesn’t last too long…at least while they are young enough that their climbing is terribly dangerous.
Perhaps they will always climb, but they will likely also learn how to do it well and safely. And maybe someday you will get the chance to watch them expertly climb a tree and swing from the branches!