Updated February 2019
Grandparents: if your grandkids are over at your house with any sort of regularity, you’ll probably want to invest in a few key babyproofing items. They’ll help make your visits more fun and less stressful. *Check out our full babyproofing guide here.
We’ve whittled down a list of babyproofing essentials that are lightweight and won’t take over your whole darn house. After all, you already did the whole baby thing, right?
You’ll also want to make sure all your medicines are stored safely out of the way. Over 60,000 ER visits are made each year by children who got into someone’s medicine — many of these (23%) are from grandparents who left their pill boxes sitting out. We highly recommend these baby-proof medicine bags from Juno you can use in your home or when you travel to visit your grandkids. (Note: Juno bags are out of stock until later in 2019.) Another option is the lockable Safety Sack.
I can’t tell you what a nice thing it is for a grandparent to take the initiative to babyproof their home. It’s usually a responsibility that falls on mom, and believe me, it’s so nice to get a little help wherever we can get it!
Electrical outlets and plugs are an obvious area of concern when babies are around. For empty outlets, you can get more covers than you need for less than the price of your pumpkin spice latte. You can leave them in all the time, or just pop them in when the grandkids come over.
Mommy’s Helper Outlet Plugs ~ $3 for 36
For most grandparents, these simple covers are probably good enough…but if you’re hosting your grandchild often, you might want additional coverage, especially for exposed outlets you’re using (i.e., they have something plugged into them and are completely out in the open). For these, we recommend plug covers:
LectraLock ~ $10
The LectraLock prevents little ones from grabbing at exposed electrical outlets and plugs. You want to make sure to order the correct size and shape for your exact outlet; otherwise it won’t fit.
Power Strip Covers
These fit over most power strips that are 7.5 – 10” long, and can sit on the floor or be mounted on the wall.
Note that this cover is more of a deterrent than anything else. If they really wanted to, little kids could probably squeeze their hands in the slot or tug the plugs out of the strip…so it’s a help, but it doesn’t 100% guarantee that it’ll prevent access to your power strip.
Baby gates have come a long way in the last few decades. The choices can seem overwhelming. The bottom line is this: unless you enjoy being on alert every moment of the day, you might want some extra peace of mind that your grandchild won’t go tumbling down the stairs, especially if you have wood stairs.
We picked our favorite gates for grandparents’ homes based on the ability to set them up and break them down easily (and store them out of sight).
Before you get started, it’s a good idea to measure whatever doorway/area you need a gate for. If you have a standard doorway (32—36”), most baby gates will work. If it’s larger than that, you might need an extra-wide gate (60—72”).
In the world of baby gates, you can get either hardware-mounted gates, which attach permanently to your walls/door frames/banisters, or pressure-mounted gates, which are held in place by pressure alone – kind of like a shower curtain tension rod.
For grandparents, we like pressure-mounted gates, so you can set them up/take them down as needed. That said, if you want to play it extra safe at the tops of stairs, it’s always recommend you get a hardware mounted gate in that location (so nobody trips over the bottom threshold of a pressure mounted gate…including you!).
Hardware Mounted Gates
Summer Infant Retractable Gate ~ MSRP $89
The Summer Infant gate retracts so it’s out of the way when the grandkids aren’t visiting. This one is a great price, though it isn’t as quiet or smooth to operate as the pricier Retract-A-Gate (below) — we still think it’s a decent option for the grandparents’ house since it won’t be used every day.
Retract-A-Gate ~ $130+
Height: 34″, Width range: 52″ or 72″
This retracting gate is pricey, but it’s another fantastic option for grandparents because it’s always ready to use, yet hides away when you don’t need it. This is a super low-profile, quiet gate that’s easy to operate; those who have it love it. It’s considered the Cadillac of baby gates and is certified for use at the top and bottom of stairs by the JPMA.
Use it with the Stair Banister Adapter Kit so you don’t have to drill holes into your banister; it comes in 52” or 72” wide options.
Pressure Mounted Gates
North States Supergate “Easy Close” Metal Gate ~ $47 —Top Pick
Height: 29″, Width range: 28″-31.5″ (extends to 38.5″)
The North States Supergate Easy Close is our #1 favorite baby gate. It’s self-closing, swings both ways, opens with one hand, doesn’t require any assembly, and has two optional extensions (to fit openings up to 38.5”).
Carlson Wide Gate with Pet Door ~ $42 on Amazon
Height: 30″, Width range: 29″-44″
If you need something wider, the Carlson Wide Gate with Pet Door is a great option, since it comes with two optional extensions to fit openings up to 44”. (You can use the pet door for cats or small dogs, but if you don’t need it, just keep it closed and latched.) This gate is easy to set up and has a one-touch release handle.
*See more at Favorite Baby Gates
Cabinet and drawer locks ensure that little wondering hands won’t get into anything you don’t want them to, whether it’s all those chemicals under the kitchen sink or your fine china.
There are several kinds of cabinet and drawer locks out there. There are the plastic latches we all know and despise—you know, the ones that drive you crazy every time you have to open the cabinet under the sink to get the dish soap…
The advantage to these is that they are cheap and fairly easy to install.
For grandparents (and other people who don’t have kids in their house 24/7), we much prefer magnetic locks.
Magnetic Safety Locks
These are a great choice because you can just disarm them when your grandkids aren’t there and re-lock them when they are. Super easy and convenient. Because of the time and energy needed for installation, these are best for grandparents who host their grandkids frequently.
Magnetic locks have two parts, one of which mounts to the inside of the cabinet/drawer (so they are basically invisible! No baby locks here!), and the other of which you use as a key to engage/disengage the lock.
Not gonna lie — these take some time and commitment to install, but once they’re there, you’ll be so happy you did!
Here are our favorites:
Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks ~ $14 for 4 locks
These are nice because they’re simple to install – no tools necessary, you just need adhesive tape. (Some people don’t think the adhesive that comes with the set is strong enough; if you agree, try double-sided Gorilla Glue tape for a stronger/more durable adhesive.)
Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System Complete ~ $24 for 8 locks
These magnetic locks are a little harder to install since you have to screw them in, but the upside to this is that they’re more secure and long-lasting. If you have lots of grandkids and think you might need cabinet and drawer locks for a long stretch of time, the tedious install might be worth it.
Another good choice for grandparents are cord-and-slide locks, which you can use when needed to lock up side-by-side cabinets (or anything with double doors, including refrigerators!).
These are super easy, low-profile, and best of all – cheap!
Safety 1st OutSmart Slide Lock ~ $6/ea
This whole line from Safety 1st has a clever decoy for little kiddos – buttons that distract them but have absolutely nothing to do with the locking mechanism. (Ha- take that, grandkids!)
Kiscords Baby Safety Cabinet Locks for Knobs ~ $10 for 5
These locks are very well-liked and well-priced. They make both a knob and a handle version.
Last but not least is pool safety.
For you grandparents who have a pool, pool safety is something to take super seriously. Because many grandparents flock to warmer climates upon retirement, more and more now have swimming pools on their property. I can’t tell you how many tragic stories I’ve heard of grandchildren drowning in a grandparent’s pool because it wasn’t properly babyproofed – especially the older pools that were built before babyproofing was a thing.
Though there is no federal pool fence law currently in place within the US, several states, including Florida and Arizona, have created their own individual pool fence laws. Most municipalities now require this for everyone, including pool owners who don’t have children. And if you own a home with a pool, your homeowner’s policy may require it as well.
Essentially, it’s all abut perimeter control.
Please see our full article here on Pool Safety.
Well folks, that’s all for grandparent-specific babyproofing items. Depending on your home, you may also be interested in babyproofing these areas:
- Toilet Safety
- Bathtub Safety
- Window Safety
- Furniture Safety
- Door Knob Covers and Locks
- Fireplace Safety
- Yard Safety