Transform bottom shelves into playzones. Your toddler already has.

by Whitney Moss on March 14, 2014

in Toddler

Jennifer Latch, our San Francisco-based mom friend who blogs at Our Urban Playground, shared pictures online of how she surrendered to her daughter Phoebe’s obsession with playing in cupboards. I did the same when my son was a toddler. Today, Jen shares her strategies for embracing Phoebe’s behavior instead of fighting it.

How to babyproof the living room

Toddlers love to pull things off shelves and out of drawers. I find this incredibly annoying, and if you have any heavy books on the shelves it can actually be dangerous.

My idea to transform the bottom shelves in our apartment started with the living room. My youngest was just starting to learn how to crawl and pull up. I knew that soon she would be grabbing the books I had there and possibly pulling them down on top of her.

I decided to rework the shelving unit and turn the bottom two shelves into baby-friendly toy storage: heavier items on the bottom shelf and light plush toys on the shelf above it. This has worked really well for us and has made clean up after toy play pretty painless.

How to babyproof your living room

As my baby became more mobile and pretty much interested in following me around and copying what I was doing, I set up a similar space in our kitchen spice pantry. She was getting into the spices and spilling them and throwing them everywhere! I set up the bottom two shelves with pretend spices and foods for her to play with instead. (I got the play foods at Target.)

How to toddler-proof your kitchen

You could do similar things with bottom drawers your toddler loves to get into or other sections of the house if you have the space. This would be a way to entertain your child while you get things done and toddlerproof an area without having tons of kid items everywhere. The baby still experiences the pleasure of getting into stuff, but it does not cause danger, messes or eyesores.

I think my next step is going to be transforming a particular cabinet she loves to open and throw the Tupperware all over. I think I will just put some things in there for her instead until she grows out of that phase.

How to babyproof the kitchen

Of course cabinets that have cleaning supplies or dangerous things should be fully babyproofed and locked, but at this stage (18 months) she loves to pretend play and copy and get into places she thinks are not allowed so giving her safe options to do this save me lots of time when I am trying to cook dinner, fold laundry or take a few minutes to answer an email… and maybe a few minutes to scan my Instagram feed if we are going to be completely honest with each other!

Thanks, Jen, for being honest with us! Read Jen’s very simple tip for picky eaters that we shared last year. And her sensibly low-key first birthday party story.

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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