When small children are in the mix, there are certain safety measures you’ll need to pay attention to in your apartment or home that you may not have considered previously. Things like kitchen cabinets, plants, large pieces of furniture and staircases take on a whole new meaning when your little one becomes mobile.
Thankfully, proper childproofing tools usually don’t require a large investment. Here are some of the easiest ways to childproof your rental to ensure it’s safe for baby without sacrificing your security deposit.
1. Start before you move in, if possible
Life doesn’t always go as planned, but if you do happen to be on the hunt for a new rental before the baby is born or before your little one starts crawling, there are certain features you can consider for their safety.
Are there any open staircases, balconies, porches or ledges that can’t be blocked off by a baby gate? Do all of the windows lock securely to avoid unintended tumbles? Is the apartment on one of the higher floors of a building with no elevators? Consider the neighborhood. Are the neighbors mostly families or college students who might be up later than you?
2. Look at things through your child’s eyes
Factors you might not consider could easily catch the attention of a curious and newly mobile child. Think of any items in your rental that children could potentially knock over — plants, picture frames and other home decors — and consider moving them to out-of-reach areas.
Remove things like cords, pet bowls and other tripping hazards from the floor and keep an eye out for small items that you wouldn’t want your child to put in their mouth. Cover any electrical outlets at the floor level that you’re not using to prevent any accidents.
3. Stairs might be your biggest hurdle
If your rental property does have stairs, you’ll need to find a way to make things safe for children. For the safety of all ages, make sure that hand railings of both your indoor and outdoor staircases are sturdy and in good shape. If your stairs are a slippery hardwood or you live in an area with winter weather, consider installing no-slip materials to prevent injuries.
Unfortunately for renters, pressure-mounted baby gates are not a safe way to prevent children from taking a tumble down the stairs. Talk to your landlord before installing a baby gate at the top of your stairwell and offer to repair the holes in the wall yourself (or pay to have them repaired). Most landlords will reason with you to avoid the liability of an injury on their property.
4. Lock up the cabinets and cupboards
Cabinets and cupboards throughout your rental can pose a threat for children as they likely house pots and pans, medical items, cleaning supplies, etc. Be sure to choose baby-proof locks that don’t require hard installation to avoid damaging the cabinets.
These days, there are a wide variety of options that are installed by adhesive, magnets or on cabinet handles. If locks aren’t an option for your cabinets and cupboards, rearrange your storage to keep all items potentially dangerous to children in higher-level, out of reach areas.
5. Rethink furniture choices to be more kid-friendly
Unless you rent a furnished apartment, your furniture is likely one of the things you have the most control over as a renter. Consider replacing particularly wobbly, sharp or fragile furniture with more family-friendly options.
If you’re not in a position to change out the furniture, you can always purchase safety guards to cover sharp, harsh edges while your children are young. If you’re looking for the added security of fastening certain pieces to the wall, be sure to check with your landlord before installing any hardware.
Your children come first
Bringing a child into the mix as a renter can quickly seem overwhelming. With a little preparation and open communication with your landlord, renters can easily avoid injuries and accidents with young children in the house.
Federal housing regulations prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to families with children, and something as seemingly innocuous as suggesting a family with a toddler avoid renting an apartment on a higher floor can be considered discriminatory.
Open the conversation with your landlord about child safety early on in the process. They’ll likely want to work with you to prevent accidents where they may be held liable.