Our son is 17 months old. He is too frequently ruining things and losing our expensive things.

I know these things should be out of reach, but some things can’t be locked and things at his level are getting destroyed.

We are mentally exhausted and it seems like telling him “No, it is wrong.” doesn’t work.

What should we do?

  • What are some examples of expensive things your 17 month old has ruined? Aug 8, 2021 at 8:59
  • @anongoodnurse well e.g. in kitchen I got some locks for cabinet, when the cabinet didn't open, it pulled it so hard that lock got stressed and ripped off cabinet covering that been there since 13 years n not even our first son was like this. he dropped my camera batteries on charge in toilet etc.
    – localhost
    Aug 8, 2021 at 10:53
  • @NadeemTaj - please a) do not answer in comments, use an answer post. and b) please read our How to Answer page before posting.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 9, 2021 at 7:26

3 Answers 3


Most children I am aware of go through the make a mess or destroy things phase of exploration. It's tough and more than a little bit annoying. These are some of the things that I have learned and worked for me to help reduce the occurrence of messes and destruction.

Child Proofing

It's crucial to lock all the cabinets, doors, or drawers you don't want to be touched. It's very annoying, but this is key to protecting those things. Keeping things out of sight and out of reach is effective for things that can't just be stored in a cabinet.

Eye-Level Distractions

I found with my kids that it was best to put their toys not in bins on the ground but stacked containers, ideally transparent ones, at eye level or as close to eye level as possible. We sometimes forget that they don't always think to look in closed boxes for their own things. It sounds silly, but one thing I did was wander around my house on my hands and knees to make sure they could see things that they liked and were okay to play with.


Exploration is a big part of child development, so it's natural and important for your child to do that. We have a specific kitchen drawer filled with our Tupperware, spatulas, measuring cups, and large soup spoons. We keep this unlocked so our kids can get in there and mess up something that is non-valuable and easy to clean up. This really deters them from trying to break into things that they want. Something my oldest was more than adept at doing at that age.

Once we started doing the above with our second child, it greatly reduced the number of messes. It destroyed valuables since they could explore and get into different house areas without too much trouble.

  • And even with all that, they will still find ways to make a mess and destroy things. My 3yr old recently discovered he could reach behind the movie cabinet, pull the backing off, and pull movies out and dump them all over the floor. Or he's chilling outside the bathroom when I'm taking a shower, and I get out to find he peeled a huge section of paint off the wall...
    – rtaft
    Aug 30, 2021 at 17:45

At this age a child does not understand the value of things. You have to arrange your home child-proof. Yes, put everything out of his reach/sight if you don’t want him to touch it or play with it. He wants to discover everything, that is important for his development. Say „no“ a hundred times won’t work at this age. As he gets older you can explain things.

For the kitchen you could install a separate fence/gate (just look at Amazon) this worked very well for us.


The other answers have covered very well the child side of the problem. There is however another component to it: first-time parents often underestimate the extent to which their usual lifestyle needs to be adapted to the child. It includes not being able to go out, invite guests, travel, having to wake up and go to bed at certain hours, and - what is relevant here - living in a less elegant home.

Home needs to be adapted to the child's prrsence - not so much to preserve the things from damage, but in order to guarantee the safety if the child. One can find extensive lists of necessary adjustments, I therefore mention only a few things:

  • No open shelves accessible to the child
  • Nothing that can break into pieces that can cut, pierce, or be swallowed
  • Nothing that has potential for suffocating the child
  • No furniture that could potentially fall onto them
  • No access to power sockets
  • Securing the doors (which have potential for jamming fingers and causing serious injuries)
  • Barriers in staircases
  • No child near kitchen appliances, oven, stove, boiler, etc.

It is important to do some research in order to make the adjustments suitable for your home: many seemingly harmless objects and places may be dangerous or even lethal to a child, without parents even realizing it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .