The day has finally arrived. Your adorable little baby, who used to simply lie in one place looking as cute as can be, has now found her feet (or, rather, her hands and knees) and is on the move. Everything is now up for grabs, in her eyes. Pretty soon, hazards you had never even noticed before stand out like a sore thumb.
Whether we like it or not, our everyday world revolves around electricity and technology. This means your little one will find a wall outlet (or two or ten), and chances are she will be drawn to them. They are just ripe for the insertion any little object or finger that may come their way. If there is one place to start when it comes to baby-proofing, this is it.
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Standard American wall outlets pack a punch of about 120 volts. That is enough to give an adult a nasty shock, tightening their muscles to where it is hard for them to let go.
European wall outlets are even worse, with a voltage averaging about double that of American outlets. Just imagine the damage this could do to your little one. Sadly, about 2,400 babies and children are treated every year for shocks and burns related to wall outlets. Even more alarming is the fact that roughly 12 of these children die every year (1).
Fingers are the easiest (and most likely) to be inserted into the slots of electrical outlets, but babies are copy-cats. They watch your every move, and they will, at some point, see you plug something in to the wall and will want to try it themselves.
If the object they choose happens to be made of metal, this poses an even greater risk. So, what can you do to keep your baby safe?
The easiest, cheapest, and most common solution to baby-proofing your electrical wall outlets is to use these plastic socket plugs. They are inexpensive and can be bought in bulk.
They simply plug in to the outlet, covering them so nothing else (like fingers or objects) can be inserted. These are great (and I use them as well), but they also come with their disadvantages.
First, you have to pull them out every time you want to use the outlet. This means that there is a chance you may forget to plug them back in, leaving the outlet exposed again to your little one. Leaving them lying around also creates a choking hazard, as babies test everything with their mouths and these covers are the perfect size for eating.
Second, since these covers are cheap, that means they are cheaply made. The constant removal and replacement wears on them, especially if you are like me and not exactly doing it carefully every time. Eventually, the plastic prongs may break off. This could create more choking hazards for your baby, or could render one of your outlets unusable if it breaks inside.
Finally, they do not lock in place. While your baby may not mess with them much now, she will eventually become a toddler. This means she is smarter and stronger. These plastic covers can now be easily removed by her (especially if she has watched you do it multiple times), and then you are back to square one: choking hazards and shocking risks.
If these possibilities scare you, you may be looking for other options to make your outlets safe for your baby. Thankfully, there are many newer products on the market made with the intention of avoiding these potential dangers. They are still affordable (though, not as cheap as the plastic covers) and easy for you to use.
Baby Proof Outlet Covers
A great alternative to cheap plastic covers are these child-proof covers. Similar to the cheaper version mentioned before, these simply plug in to the open outlets and block anything else from being inserted.
The difference here is the fact that they lock into the outlets. In order for them to be removed, the buttons on the sides need to be pushed simultaneously. This feature makes these a great option for your toddler. Even if she watches you remove them, she is unlikely to have the coordination or strength to remove them herself.
The downside to these is the same as the cheap ones. They need to be removed every time you want to use the outlet. This creates an exposed outlet and choking hazard if they aren’t replaced when you are done.
There is also the increased level of difficulty to remove them, even for adults. However, if you master the buttons and remember to replace them every time, these are a great choice.
Baby Proof Outlet Boxes
Another option is to cover the wall outlet altogether. These outlet boxes are easy to install, simply attaching in place of your current outlet plate. This option is great for those outlets that keep the same things plugged in all the time, like alarm clocks, televisions, and computers.
Inside the box, you can wrap up your cords, shortening them so they cannot be pulled by your little one.
It is imperative that you check the compatibility of your outlet before purchasing. It will fit most standard American outlets, as long as it has the center screw to attach it to.
It also does not fit thicker cords, so be aware of where you want to use it and what you are plugging in. And, again, this is best for the outlets that are constantly in use by the same items. You do not want to have to open it up and re-wrap your cords every time you need to plug in something new.
Baby Proof Outlet Safety Plates
Instead of plugging or covering the holes, creating eyesores and making it more difficult for you to use the outlets yourself, how about changing out the wall plate altogether? These plates are created with just that in mind. The outlet plugs have plastic covers that slide closed, making it impossible to insert anything.
There is nothing for you to remove when you want to use it, either. Simply use your device plug to slide the plastic cover aside and plug it in. When you are done, the cover slides back over on its own thanks to internal springs. This is great for the inevitable times your child will unplug something, letting you breathe easy knowing the opening will automatically shut.
There are few to no negative reviews on these wall plates. The most common complaint is due to the occasional manufacturing issue. If the cover does not sit right, there may not be a very good connection for your electrical device. You may also have some that have a faulty sliding mechanism, making it so that they do not close on their own. Before purchasing these, just check your store’s return policy and exchange them if you happen upon some faulty covers.
Baby-proofing your house can be quite the daunting venture. Thankfully, there are many new and improved products on the market, making it easy and affordable for you to make your house safe for your little one. You can breathe easy and relax, enjoying the adventures of your baby without the worry of her injuring herself.
If you want more information – Check out our complete guide to child proofing here.