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Baby Proofing (and Baby Rooms): What’s It Gonna Take?

Kaspar is moments away from crawling. He’s close. He can swivel, and he can shuffle himself backwards. He can definitely roll (fast, and far). He can get his butt up into the air and he can get his torso up in the air, and although he can’t yet manage both simultaneously, I can see the moment coming when he does, at which point we will need to baby proof our home.

Our apartment in Brooklyn would not have been suitable for a truly mobile baby. We had far too much open shelving, and a few too many steam pipes for the place to have worked at this stage. Now we have cabinets with doors, rooms with doors (our last place was a railroad apartment), and a big open space in our living room with full sightlines from the kitchen area; Kaspar currently plays there on a couple of large spread-out blankets while I do what I need to do in his immediate vicinity.

I am guessing, though I’m admittedly basically clueless about all things baby proofing, that we’ll get some kind of baby cage (moveable fence/playpen thing) for when the crawling begins, so he can still play in this area without my constantly being directly by his side. I don’t currently, and don’t ever plan to, just leave him to his own devices, of course… But it’s nice that he can entertain himself for short periods while I pick things up, write an email, or throw a salad together. We spend lots of highly hands-on time with Kaspar, so this down time during which he’s alert, yet calm, is great for all of us, including him. Here on the cusp of crawling, too, his timing is perfect; we’re still living largely out of boxes (we got a bit delayed on the big move-in, as our floors needed replacing, so we were in hotels for a week… long story, and I don’t wanna talk about it…), and considering how to set the place up. I want to do so in a way that allows Kaspar a safe environment when he starts to really explore it. In other words, I don’t want to constantly interrupt his explorations to pry sharp or toxic objects from his grasp… I’d rather follow along with him and encourage his investigations into his world.

Our cabinets have doors, but not handles or knobs. They pull open by way of hand groove-type-things… How do we secure these (I’m thinking of those white plastic locks that people I used to babysit for placed over two adjoining cabinet knobs, keeping the doors from opening… those won’t work here)? Other than outlet covers, what else is essential to baby proofing? Were there things you didn’t think of that you wish you had? Was there a method that really worked for you, like relegating the baby to one hazard-free room with baby gates? All I know is that we had some friends and their two-year-old over for brunch recently, back in Brooklyn, and I was shocked and awed by the rate at which our seemingly minimalist physical space was turned over onto itself…

And, on a related but somewhat separate note, Kaspar’s room is a blank canvas right now. We’ve got his crib and changing table in there, but that’s it. He’s not a newborn anymore—he’s aware of his space—so beyond painting it fun colors (which I intend to do), what are the ways that I can make the room fun for him? An art table, for example, would be too advanced— do you know of any good products, toys or room-arrangement tips for the crawling and early-walking phases? What’s in your baby’s room?