Childproofing Open Spaces

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Baby proofing ''open'' living space

Sept 2012

Help! Our kitchen, living room, stairwell and both front and back doors are open to each other (no doors). Baby is getting to crawling stage. I would prefer not to drill any holes into the 1912 craftsman woodwork. Are there any very wide baby gates that don't require drilling? Or are there other clever ways to block off large areas? Ideas? Much thanks new parent

First, ''baby proofing'' is NOT POSSIBLE any more than ''earthquake proofing'' is possible.

Think ''baby resistant'' ! And what is ''kid resistant'' will change over time as ''baby'' becomes ''toddler'' becomes ... and, then, in a twinkling, your concern will be what kind of auto insurance is right for your young inexperienced driver.

BUT, today, right now, immediately, a playpen can reduce anxieties, giving both you and baby some calm time while you figure out how to do more ''baby resistant'' preparations.

We also had an open living room and purchased (used, in two batches) pieces from the Friendly Toys Little PlayZone line. I think at our peak we had 7 panels. They are thick plastic and when you have at least four of them, they are freestanding and very sturdy. We eventually used it as a three-sided pen, with the fourth side being our couch. It encompassed the entire living room. We affectionately called it baby jail. The grownups would often sit inside too, especially on the couch. We took it to the park a couple of times for parties, too. It was nice having a baby-proof area I could leave our son in while I went to the bathroom, answered the phone, cooked, etc. nearby. kind of miss baby jail
We had a similar set up, and used 2 sets of kidco safety gates (they're awesome -- they come in segments that are easily reconfigurable - 5 regular pieces + 1 gate piece per set, I think.) They're not nearly as horrible-looking as some (ours were black metal) and they're rtelatively light but sturdy. We zip-tied them in some places (bannister rail at edge of stairs) & in other places to stable furniture, or wedged them in between same. Those were super great, actually, cause we reconfigured several times as our twins grew, and used them for things like blocking off stereo equipment & Christmas trees. Last time I looked, there were loads of those on Craig's List.

In addition, we got a couple of $20 tension-mounted bamboo gates, from Target, I think, for blocking off the kitchen island on occasion, or doorways, or for travel (blocking off the bathroom in a motel, for example.) The set-up won't make the cover of Architectural Digest but at least your kids (& furniture) won't get damaged! Also, you might just have to up the child-proofing in areas left accessible, with the various padding options offered at your local hardware store/Babies''R''Us, etc.

Lastly, I know there are childproofing experts that will come to your house for a small fee and tell you what you might need (& then you can decide what to do, and whether or not to buy the stuff from them.) Good luck to you! Natasha

Check out the North States Superyard .. You can find at Amazon and Walmart. Available in plastic, metal, or wood. Buy the 2-panel extension for a larger enclosure. Kate
I don't think the open floor plan is very different from anybody else's baby-proofing - in fact it's easier to keep your eye on the tykes. My thoughts probably repeat earlier posts on baby-proofing, and wont post because my post was too long. We all baby-proof exterior doors (Christmas bells make good alarms), kitchen cabinets, trash, knives, stairs, everything. Have friends over to help you inspect. Hope someone posts something that will help you with the stairs while minimizing drilling into your nice woodwork.

There are stand-up barricades we use to discourage and reinforce ''stay out of here'' but many are not perfect. Drilling gates is usually done with stairs. - hope this helps -

We use the Kidco configure gate and get several extensions and have made a bit ''corral'' in our living room where we put our baby's toys and books. We sit in there and play with her often- and we'll keep the door to it open when we're close by- but we can close the door if we need to take a quick shower or leave the room for a few minutes. We let her crawl around when we're there, but it's nice to have a safe space for her to be in when needed. Good luck! Mama to a new crawler, too

Child proofing a large space

May 2005

Our daughter recently started crawling. The space we tend to spend the most time is our living room/dining room/kitchen - it is just one open space. We would like to be able to partition off part of the room for the baby to play in, safely. But, I haven't seen any product that would accomplish this - the ''play pen'' type things are too small for what we have in mind - and we don't want to fence the room off in a permanent way - best would be a barrier that could be moved around. Does anyone know of any product or have ideas for how to (temporarily) partition off part of a large open room for a baby play area? Thanks. Chris

There is a product we got at Babies R Us called Superyard ( It is sectionalized (6 pieces out of the box, you can get more if you need), so you can make it longer or shorter to fit your needs. You can make it into a big pen, or stretch it from one side of the room to another. We've been using it to keep the baby away from certain pieces of furniture.
If I understand you correctly what you need is a stand alone corral type fence. These things hold temselves up and create a corral so no need to mount it to a wall or anything. Goto and search for Superyard XT for an example, it creates up 18 sq feet of space. They also sell extensions. the sight has over 166 customer reviews on this product so you can get a good idea if this will work for you. Joe G
I would highly recommend the child proofer. We didn't know exactly how to child proof our home and had them come out to take a look. They asked us some questions over the phone then loaded up their van and came by. After a quick assessment, they made some suggestions and did the install right then. It only took about an hour to do everything. They are a family-run business and are extremely professional and efficient. Their web site is Suzanne
Have you considered getting a childproofing fence with a gate in it so that adults can get through but baby can't? That's what we did with our living/dining room. Warning: these fences and gates are VERY VERY expensive (as in, possibly hundreds of dollars) if you buy them new and have them installed by a professional ''childproofer.'' Therefore, buy one used from Craig's List and, if you've got any friends who are contractors or carpenters, try to prevail upon them to help you install it. Anon