I see that my six-month-old is getting to be a dangerous guy and we're going to start baby-proofing. Eight-year-olds typically don't need baby-proofing, though, so there's a light at the end of this tunnel.

At what age (of my youngest child) should I expect to be able to return my house to "normal"?

  • See also this related recent question: parenting.stackexchange.com/a/7922/316
    – Rory Alsop
    Apr 28, 2013 at 13:37
  • By the way, my now 9yo is a responsible guy. It turns out we were able to do away with most babyproofing by ~4, but we still anchor furniture to walls and keep dangerous medicine mostly out of reach (we got a medicine safe).
    – Charles
    Nov 18, 2021 at 19:06

5 Answers 5


You child proof all at once, but you unproof in stages, depending on the item:

  • stair gate when they can safely navigate the stairs consistently.
  • small choking hazards when they stop putting everything into their mouth.
  • sharp furniture corners probably never in an active play room. In the rest of the house, when they can walk consistently without falling down.
  • heavy furniture anchored to the wall when they are strong enough to push it off themselves if it falls on them.
  • medicine When they've consistently demonstrated the proper use and dosage.
  • abusable medicine (narcotic painkillers, etc.) probably never.
  • pool when they are consistent strong swimmers.
  • knives when they've shown they can be safe while helping you cook.
  • matches when they've consistently demonstrated proper fire safety.
  • power tools when they've consistently demonstrated proper safety procedures.
  • guns probably never.
  • Your stuff you don't want them to ruin so far as I can tell, probably never :-)

You can see a lot depends on the maturity of the child. Most of the visible gates and locks go away around age two or three. Also, the age you can trust them to stay away from something is sometimes lower than the age you can trust them to use something unsupervised. For example, we keep our kitchen knives out on the counter, but the kids (age six and three) don't try to get into them. They will move heaven and earth to get into candy, though.

  • This is a great list, but it would be really useful to add approximate ages to these categories.
    – Charles
    Apr 26, 2013 at 17:15
  • 6
    "heavy furniture anchored to the wall when they are strong enough to push it off themselves if it falls on them" - note that for most furniture that means "never" - even an adult is in danger if a full-sized cupboard or bookshelfs falls on them.
    – sleske
    May 27, 2019 at 9:26

With my son we did minimal baby proofing in the first place. The extent of what we did:

  • medicines and cleaning products were kept up in high cabinets (which they were anyway, but we just took care not to leave them out / in reach)
  • we put a stair gate at the top of the stairs
  • we had a cupboard door lock on the large pantry-style food cupboard in the kitchen. In hindsight I would not have bothered with this.
  • we had those little plug socket blocker things. In hindsight I would not have done this because I've now found out that (with UK sockets at least) they can actually make the socket MORE dangerous.

When he was 3 we moved house and we didn't bother with any baby proofing at all in the new house.

My daughter is now 16 months and we've followed the same principles - minimal changes to the house. I would far rather teach her not to touch certain things so that if I forget to latch the cabinet lock or we visit someone else's non-baby-proofed house, it's not a problem. Again the stair gate is the only significant baby proofing, and we'll take that down once she's reliable going down the stairs forwards on her own, some where between 2 and 3.

The only other thing I would baby proof if I had it would be a pond or swimming pool, in which case I would keep the protection up for a bit longer.


I think it also depends on your patience threshold! - My son is still only 19 months. I practice having non locked 'safe' cupboards and healthy snack larders to satisfy curious little fingers. However I would still keep any cupboards/drawers locked (in addition to medicines/detergents/knives etc.) that have the potential to cause large spillages/wastage and to prevent me to have to keep saying no when they open it. This is just for my own parenting sanity :)


Also remember that when you have children living in your house you are likely to get children visiting your house. Those visitors might be younger and less sensible than your own kids.

(Some of the safety items, such as fireguards, can also be handy when you have impulsive teenagers.)


I am a big fan of "baby jail" - a play pen. It allows younger children to be doing stuff with minimal supervision while the parent/s are doing other things. This does not mean NO supervision... if they go quiet, check on them, but it allows you to be doing the dishes or cooking etc without them getting underfoot.

As for the general baby-proofing, the stairs was the big one - our house is kinda upside down so we live upstairs mostly... and our staircase was pretty much impossible to do using a regular gate so we stuck a big plastic table on its side.

Most of the other baby proofing is down to you should do it because you will horribly regret it if you do not and something happens but unsupervised kids will find some way to hurt themselves no matter how much baby-proofing you do. You NEED the supervision.

The other trick is that the kids need to be scared to go into the kitchen or out of the house without permission - Overreact just a little bit the first time or two they do this. This sounds mean but you will not always be watching them and things can go bad very quickly - grabbing the side of a hot frying pan or running into the road. Much better that they simply don't go through those doors without permission. If they ask, take their hand and take them through the doors yourself so that they are rewarded for asking (and so they know that it is the lack of permission that's the problem, not the doorway).

As for the age when you can stop baby-proofing... mostly it will become second nature to use the baby-proofed cabinets etc and you'll never get around to taking them off until they simply stop functioning. When moving into a new home, you'll already know what your kid/s are prone to do so protect from the major risks.

Good luck and best wishes

  • Ooh... Most importantly... remember this: Children are like pets. You either train them, or they will train you. Choose wisely.
    – Siggy
    Oct 1, 2020 at 18:49

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