Beyond gates: Baby-proofing in style

Baby gates have come a long way. Newer gates by companies such as Fusion Gates combine function with style.

It's a headache known to many new parents: Suddenly, your stylish abode morphs into a menagerie of outlet covers and cabinet locks.

While the phrases "baby-proofing" and "kid-friendly" rarely conjure up images of elegance or sophistication, recent years have seen a range of more modern and stylish products available to those who want them.

Baby-proofing has gone glam, so to speak.

Parents can now cover the corners of their furniture with a variety of soft materials, or cordon off stove burners with a slick-looking adhesive guard. There are products for window-blind cords, door pinch protectors, locks for doors and toilet seats, covers for stove knobs, and more.

No need any longer to block your stairway with a white plastic fence. A Georgia-based company, Qdos, sells a "crystal hardware mount gate," a clear acrylic panel that looks like a window. Qdos also sells outlet covers that can be slid open when you want to plug something in, and an adhesive stove guard that attaches around the front and sides of the four burners.

An Illinois company, Fusion Gates, makes baby barriers that resemble stained-glass windows. They come with a satin nickel, white pearl or black finish.

For table corners, the online retailer Ellas Homes makes clear orb-shaped covers. The products are made of adhesive plastic but look like gel.

If you can't find what you're looking for locally, there's always the Internet, says Philadelphia mother Danielle Cormier-Smith. "I live in an older home and we have narrow stairwells that need smaller gates," she said.

Stylish, inconspicuous baby-proofing was a priority for Rebecca Stanton, a New York mother.

"We sprang for a wooden safety gate and playpen that looked nicer and wasn't a giant hunk of plastic," Stanton says. "We got magnetic, childproof cabinet locks that are invisible from the outside."

Such baby-proofing accessories are a boon to retailers. A 2016 report by market analysts Sandler Research said many parents are hiring child safety specialists to outfit their homes.

Jeff Baril, who owns Safe Beginnings, Inc., a Billerica, Mass.-based baby-proofing and child safety business, warns against putting too much emphasis on chic.

"Style and sophistication have improved, but stylish is not always safest," he says. "Parents should evaluate for safety, which should always come first."

And then there are many parents who question whether all of this baby-proofing is necessary.

Maya Brook of Arvada, Colo., has embraced a minimalist stance. When asked how many safety products she uses with her three boys, who range in age from an infant to a 4-year-old, Brook responds, "not many."

"It's all about logical consequences," she says. "Even a toddler is very capable of reason."

"If you keep clean-green products in your home, keep breakables up high, teach your children to trust their bodies, to respect their things, and teach them 'no' when you need to, then you don't need all those baby-proofing gadgets," she says.



A new generation of baby-proofing products aims to combine safety with chic. Shown here is the Qdos Crystal Baby Gate by Regal Lager.

HomeStyle on 06/09/2018