Designing your dream home can feel stressful when you have a toddler. As much as you’d love to add dramatic details here and there, you have to consider the fall hazards, trip hazards, slip hazards, and smaller things like choking hazards. Everything — from the flooring material to decorations — needs a child safety check.
As such, achieving the look of your dream home can feel impossible. Childproofing is far from pretty after all. And if you choose to prioritize aesthetics before safety, the “mom guilt” may nag at you, not to mention the criticism you may face from having a seemingly child-unfriendly home.
But come to think of it; your toddlers won’t stay toddlers forever. They grow up quite fast, so it only makes sense to design your home in a way that they can grow up in. That reason alone should extinguish your guilt.
Besides, you can totally make your home beautiful and child-friendly at the same time. The key to balancing those two qualities is good design, and here are some hacks that will make you achieve just that:
1. Identify the Danger Zones for Your Kid
In a home, there are at least 11 danger zones for little kids. As you plan the design and layout of your space, integrate the highest level of safety in these zones:
- Dining room — Small babies can’t balance themselves yet while seated, so give them a proper high-chair.
- Stairways — Babies can’t climb on stairs yet, of course, while toddlers may run up and down on them, causing them to lose their balance and fall. So if you have babies, barricade your stairwell with a gate secured to the wall, and consider installing soft carpets on the steps to cushion a toddler’s fall.
- Laundry room — Your laundry room contains products that may poison your kid. Store your detergent pods on high shelves, and never leave it unattended after use.
- Kitchen — Your kitchen counters and even the refrigerator can harm your toddler. But since they’re old enough to get involved in the kitchen, buy them a footstool so that they can wash their hands in the sink, or watch you prepare food.
- Bedroom — Give your baby their own bed, because if you co-sleep, you may unknowingly push them off the bed. As for a toddler, avoid putting sharp objects in their bedroom to keep them from hurting themselves while playing around.
- Medicine cabinet — Place this cabinet where a baby or toddler cannot access it.
- Pantry — Some snacks, fruits, and other small food products are choking hazards for babies and toddlers. Store these risky treats high up, and always supervise your kids when they eat them.
- Living room — Since the living room is usually filled with electronics, a baby or toddler can play with the wires and shock themselves. Childproof your outlets and cables, and place battery-operated devices out of their reach.
- Tub and/or pool — Lock your bathroom door if the tub is still filled, and never let your kids access your pool without your supervision.
Indeed, almost every area in a home is potentially dangerous for a little kid. The rest of the hacks below will help you design them with both safety and beauty in mind.
2. Choose Tough Materials
Maybe you want a canvas couch, but it surely won’t survive the energy of a hyper toddler. So choose a tougher alternative for that material, like leather. Its texture still gives dimension and interest in your space, without the risk of succumbing to a toddler’s vigor. Another option is using a slipcover.
Lay down a high-quality area rug in play spaces too, such as the living room, to prevent your kids from spoiling the floors. Your rug may bear stains and other dirt as a cost, but it’s easier to avail professional cleaning than to deal with a damaged floor or tile.
If you have shelves in any room, bolt them to the wall, because toddlers may climb on them and topple the furniture over. You can also install a rolling ladder, but just to be sure that your shelves will stay secure, don’t dismiss the idea of bolting them.
3. Be Practical With Big Purchases
You want a classic picket fence, but your child can easily climb or vault over it. In that case, consider a sturdy industrial aluminum fence. They may look far from picket, but they’re undeniably safer, more modern, and more effective in deterring security threats.
Don’t be afraid to incorporate fun colors in your spaces as well. Your dream of neutral colors can wait; in time, when your child has grown and calmed down, they’ll also appreciate muted tones and palettes like you. For now, try to see from their young eyes’ perspective, and enjoy the brief time of their childhood. Besides, a house looks more like a home when it has bits of child-induced imperfections.