Though his kids are growing up, Fixer Upper carpenter Clint Harp still remembers the babyproofing days.
“Once I heard we were pregnant I started getting on the wagon,” the father of three tells PEOPLE, recalling DIY projects, baby gates and drawer locks.
But even though his days of outlet covers are over, he’s still committed to helping other families of young children keep their homes safe, teaming up with Safety 1st to promote home safety for little ones. Heck, even his most famous friends, Chip and Joanna Gaines, have this top of mind with the recent addition of baby Crew, though Harp says, “I haven’t needed to give them advice. They’ve got everything figured out over there!”
Here, Harp’s top tips for keeping your house safe during those toddler years.
Don’t forget the family room.
“Everyone always goes straight to the kitchen first, which makes sense, but the family room gets overlooked because, well, it’s the family room,” he says. “But maybe you have a coffee table with sharp corners and need to put pads on there, or a TV in an armoire that needs to anchor to the wall.”
For the latter, Harp recommends Safety 1st’s TV and furniture safety straps. “Who doesn’t want to spend 10 bucks to make sure your giant TV doesn’t fall over on your kid?” he says.
Think hard about your kitchen.
Sure, you’ll hide your knives and keep other sharp objects out of reach, but you almost have to get into your tot’s mind to realize what else you need to secure.
“You might think you don’t need to do the pantry, then you open up the door and your kid is covered in junk and made a mess and you forgot you had a big glass jar with your flour in there and it’s busted all over the floor,” Harp shares. “You don’t want to create a world where kids can’t have fun and be adventurous, but there are all sorts of different little things curious minds want to get into, too.”
Be mindful in the bathroom.
“I think a lot of people are surprised to hear you need to babyproof in there,” Harp says. “But I have thought of my kid going headfirst into the toilet and not being able to get out. Plus there are a lot of dangerous products in there — mouthwash, medicine, razors. We get busy and we forget when setting down these little things.”
The obvious fix for most families is a toilet lock (Safety 1st’s is $7.99) and covers on doorknobs. “It’s real simple and honestly does not make it any more difficult for you to use your bathroom.”
Be careful about picking and placing a gate.
“Pressure-mounted gates are good, but they shouldn’t go at the top of the stairs because they lose pressure over time,” Harp explains. “Houses expand and shrink depending on the time of year, and gates can lose strength when your house shrinks, without you even realizing it. At the top of the stairs, use wall-mounted screw-type gates. At the bottom, it’s okay to go pressure-mounted.”
Get rid of all your gear only when you think it’s time.
“It’s different for every family,” Harp — whose youngest is 5 and just out of the childproofing phase — cautions. “The best thing you can do is go through and childproof everything at once, then get to know your kids, their responsibility level and how they understand things. It’s different for every kid.”
Harp suggests checking out the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines and deciding what works best for your family from there.
Don’t forget to help the grandparents.
If your kids will be spending a lot of time with their grandparents, make sure those homes are secure, too.
“One day if I’m fortunate enough to have one of my kids have kids, I’ll probably run to the store immediately and get going on it,” Harp says. “We all want a little break, and to take our kids over to our own parents’ house, but not if we’re leaving them in a danger zone. You need to baby proof in both stages of life.”
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