There’s no doubt about it – electricity and babies just don’t mix. So what can you do about your little one’s newfound mission to poke things into electrical outlets and suck on power cords?
Well, you could lecture baby on the science behind humans being amazing conductors for electricity and why this is bad … but she’d probably just smile and throw her cereal at you.
Instead we recommend you just stick to babyproofing all your electricals and anything that could possibly harm your little one.
Dangers And Why You Need To Be Vigilant
Babyproofing is first and foremost a matter of safety. To understand the importance of our recommendations, you need to first understand what we’re protecting against.
1) Electric Shock
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers and young children are at high risk of electrical shock when they bite into electrical cords or poke metal objects into electrical outlets.
Injuries can vary from minor burns to major damage (sometimes injuries won’t be apparent on the skin but can be deep inside the body).
Death is obviously also a possibility, which is why electrical safety is considered such a priority.
Research by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) found that typical objects that kids might insert into outlets include cutlery, hairpins, keys, fingers, wire, screws, jewelry, plugs, paper clips, staples, etc.
As well as the dangers of electric shock, there’s also the risk of strangulation.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, there are cases where babies have died after being strangled by electrical cords near their cots.
Of course, the bedroom isn’t the only place in the house where children are at risk. We use electrical appliances and devices constantly throughout the day, in all areas of the home.
How Common Are Electrical Injuries In Children?
Electrical Safety Foundation International did an analysis of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data over a ten-year period, from 1991 to 2001.
It showed that over 24,000 kids were treated for injuries related to electrical outlets during this period. Not surprisingly, 89% were under six years of age, with the highest-risk group being two to three-year-olds.
What If The Worst Happens?
Our article is all about preventing your children from being electrocuted, but accidents can happen.
We recommend having a read of this article written by the Academy of Pediatrics, which outlines what to do if your child receives an electric shock.
It’s always good to be prepared, though – just in case.
When Should You Start Babyproofing Electrical Outlets And Cords?
You’ll want your babyproofing devices in place by the time your baby is crawling. According to Baby Center, on average this usually happens between the ages of seven and ten months.
But of course, there’s nothing stopping you from babyproofing sooner rather than later.
Some parents prefer to get all the babyproofing out of the way before baby is born – it’s handy if you’d rather one less thing on your to-do list when baby arrives.
Babyproofing Electrical Outlets And Cords Tips And Recommendations
We go into more depth about babyproofing products further below, but here’s a quick summary of suggested practices:
1) Cover It
Any electrical outlets in reach of your child needs to be secured.
There are a few options available, which we discuss below, but the important thing is to ensure nothing can be poked into the holes where the plug goes – especially metal objects.
2) Secure The Cords
Discourage your child from tugging and chewing on power cords.
You can use specially-designed box covers over the outlet when it’s being used, which makes it hard for them to pull out the cord.
You may also want to consider shortening the cords as much as possible, and possibly even tucking them away out of sight.
Always keep an eye on your little ones.
It’s obviously not possible to watch them 100% of the time, though, especially when they seem to have the uncanny ability to cross the room at super-speed when you look away for a second!
Just do your best to stay alert, especially when they’re showing signs of interest in the electricals in the home.
What Babyproofing Products Are Available?
There’s a huge range of babyproofing products designed to protect little ones from the dangers of electrical outlets and power cords.
Some can simply be plugged into the wall, while others will need to be installed with screwdrivers – so be prepared, as you might need to get out the toolbox.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular babyproofing products:
1) Outlet Plugs
These hard plastic plugs can be inserted into the electrical outlet when it’s not in use. They prevent children from toying with the outlet or pushing objects inside.
Easy to install, and if they’re properly designed, they should be difficult for babies and toddlers to remove.
Please be aware that some parents worry that loose outlet plugs could be a choking hazard for their babies. Always check the product reviews first.
2) Sliding Outlet Covers
These nifty outlet covers simply need to be installed once, over the electrical outlet, replacing the regular faceplate (aka the white rectangular things on outlets).
The way it works – you slide the plastic across in order to use the outlet, allowing you to plug in cords as needed. Once you pull out the cord, the cover slides shut, preventing children from tampering with the outlet or poking objects inside.
Parents like them because they’re convenient – unlike outlet plugs, you don’t need to pull them in and out.
3) Blank Faceplates
This one’s a recommendation from Platinum Electricians – if you’re looking for a valid opinion on the topic, experts in the trade are definitely worth considering, right?
They suggest replacing any outlets that you rarely use with a blank faceplate.
This covers the holes where the plug goes, making it completely safe. Obviously only an option though if you really don’t need to use that exact outlet.
4) Box-style Covers
These covers sit over the top of the electrical outlet, like a box, leaving enough room inside so that your cords can be plugged in at the same time.
The covers have little access holes that the cords feed through, so the plug end is safely secure from prying fingers.
These are great because you can still use the outlet as needed.
5) Power Strip Covers
If you’ve got a power strip (people typically have these around televisions or computers) then you might want to babyproof it with a cover of some sort.
These are essentially hard cases that surround your power strip like a shell, with access holes that let the cords feed through. This means you can keep children out of the power strip, while still using it.
Some can even be wall-mounted to keep them out of the way.
6) Cord Shorteners
Some outlet covers come combined with cord shortening features.
Depending on the design, there’s usually some kind of way to safely wrap excess cord around the device, and a cover that sits securely over the top.
It’s great because you can stop your little ones from accessing the outlet, while also minimising the amount of loose cord for them to tug on.
7) What About Tamper-Resistant Electrical Receptacles?
Did you know that since 2008, the National Electrical Code in the United States has enforced tamper-resistant electrical receptacles in new and renovated homes?
According to The National Fire Protection Association, they’re basically a permanent solution to outlet covers, because they prevent foreign objects being inserted inside.
Want to know more? Check out this video.
Pretty cool, huh?
If you’re unsure if your electrical outlet is tamper-resistant, you might need to consult an electrician.
It’s also important to remember that even if it is tamper-resistant, it won’t stop little rascals from pulling on the plugs and chewing on cords!
Other Things To Watch Out For
– Ensure your children take care around Christmas trees, which can be easy to forget about because they’re seasonal. Faulty wiring in Christmas lights can cause electric shock and burns.
– Be careful of your children using electrical appliances near the bath or pool.
– Watch your children around things like televisions and large lamps, especially if their cords aren’t very secure. Small children have been known to accidentally pull electrical appliances down on top of them when tugging on power cords.
Educate Your Kids As They Get Older
Your little ones won’t always be so little. In the blink of an eye, they’ll be walking, running, going to school and having playdates at their friends’ houses.
That’s why it’s so important to educate them on the dangers of electricity once they’re old enough to understand. You won’t always be around to protect them.
And we’re not just talking about electrical outlets and power cords. Electricity is everywhere and there’s lots of ways your growing children can stay safe.
This video by OGE Energy Corp offers a few great tips.
Babyproofing Electrical Outlets And Cords: Our Product Recommendations
Got a million things on your To-Do List, but just noticed your toddler eyeing off the electrical outlets?
We’ve made it as easy as possible for you by throwing together a list of babyproofing products we think you might be interested in.
We’ve only handpicked our personal favorites for each and every one of the categories we discussed in the above sections.
Read on below to see if there’s a quick-fix you think you could make use of for your electrical outlets and cords babyproofing needs.
*Note: Upon clicking on any of the links in the section below, you will be redirected to the respective product listings on Amazon where you can learn about the product’s price, customer rating & customer reviews.
Category #1: Outlet Plugs
Our Favorite Pick: Outlet Plugs by Mommy’s Helper
When it comes to babyproofing electrical outlets around the house, this is about as quick and simple as it gets.
The plug inserts into the outlet, creating a barrier that stops your child from putting their fingers into places they shouldn’t.
Seriously, you just pop it in … and that’s it. The outlet is covered. There’s no need for you to mess around with any screws or adhesives.
We love that this pack comes with 36 individual plugs. It means you should be well able to cover most (if not all) of the outlets throughout your home.
- No installation required – plugs just insert into the socket.
- Tight fitting for extra safety, but designed so adults can remove them as needed.
- The plugs are a translucent color that blends in.
- You’ll need to pull them out every time you want to use that particular outlet – if this seems irksome, a sliding outlet cover (discussed below) might be a more suitable option for you.
- Some people worry that this style of plug could be a choking hazard if it falls into the wrong hands.
Category #2: Sliding Outlet Covers
Our Favorite Pick: Self-Closing Outlet Covers by Jambini
If you’re not keen on the effort that goes into inserting and removing outlet plugs (a process our recommendation above involves), this a great alternative for you to consider instead.
It’s a cover that lets you use the electrical outlet when needed, but has a self-closing latch that blocks off the outlet when not in use.
Aside from the obvious safety benefits, we love that once it’s installed, it just blends right in – nothing clunky or obtrusive is there to ruin the room’s visual appeal.
These covers are white and come in a pack of three.
- Closes automatically when the power cord is removed.
- Looks inconspicuous as it’s designed to blend in.
- Fits both standard and decor style outlets.
- You’ll need to install it using a screwdriver, so a bit of manual work is needed – nothing too complicated at all, though.
- Some people complain of the self-closing latch pushing the power cord out when it’s plugged in – although in most cases, this only happens if it’s not installed properly.
Category #3: Blank Faceplates
Our Favorite Pick: Paintable Electrical Outlet Cover by CoverPlug Outlet Cover
If you’ve got an electrical outlet you don’t even use, this clever contraption is a great idea.
The blank faceplate completely conceals the outlet, leaving nothing for your child to tamper with. You can get on with your life as though it’s not even there.
The best part is it’s paintable, so you can unleash the creative side in you and make it match your home.
This product fits a standard grounded double outlet, and comes in a pack of two.
- It comes in white, but you can paint it with any color you like so it blends in with your exact wall color.
- Easy to install.
- The blank design helps to take away the ‘exciting’ and ‘tempting’ lure that electrical outlets usually have for little ones.
- Some people feel they are too loose.
- Obviously means you can’t use the outlet, but that’s the whole point of the design. Save this for outlets you don’t even use much, if at all.
Category #4: Box-Style Covers
Our Favorite Pick: Baby Safety Electrical Outlet Cover by LectraLock
This box-style cover allows you to shield the outlet from prying fingers, while still using the electrical outlet as normal.
We recommend it because it’s the ultimate combination of safety and functionality.
The case is large and deep so there’s enough room inside for electrical cords to be plugged in, with a small hole in the side for the cords to feed out.
- Large design – it’s 3 inches deep inside the case, leaving loads of room for even heavy-duty plugs.
- Made to fit duplex or decorator-GFI outlets.
- Secure and hard to remove – should stay in place, even with kids pushing and tugging on it.
- Needs to be installed using a screwdriver.
- May not fit if you have a surge protector.
- Protrudes from the wall about 3.31 inches – if you don’t like the bulky look, a different type of product might be more suitable for you.
Category #5: Power Strip Covers
Our Favorite Pick: Power Strip Cover by Safety 1st
If you’re looking to babyproof your power strip, this product is a popular option.
The cover is great because it fully encases the power strip, leaving a thin opening for the cords to fit through.
And yup, you guessed it – you can use the power strip as usual, but without the worry of your little ones playing with the electrical sockets.
These covers are great for use in home offices and TV rooms.
- Adjustable size – made to fit both large and small power strips.
- Can be wall-mounted for extra safety.
- The cover is a neutral color that shouldn’t impact your room’s visual appeal.
- You need to open the case if you want to change plugs.
- Some people worry that tiny fingers might be able to squish through the opening at the top (where the cords feed through).
Category #6: Cord Shorteners
Our Favorite Pick: Outlet Cover with Cord Shortener by Safety 1st
We love this product because it’s got two great uses: it both shortens cords and stops kids from tampering with electrical outlets and plugs.
It acts as both a cord shortener and a cover, so it’s amazingly versatile.
The cord shortener is built into an outlet cover that encases the plugs and excess cord. So, You can have your cords plugged in and powering your appliances without worrying about little ones tripping on cords, biting into plugs or poking the outlet.
- Easy to use – just loop the cord inside the cover.
- Stores up to four feet of cord.
- Covers the full outlet, for ultimate baby safety.
- To install it, you will need to remove the existing plate. If you’re not handy with installations and there’s no one around but yourself to do this task, this might not be the right product for you.
- May not fit super thick cords or large plugs.
Wrapping It Up
Alright, that’s it from us. Happy babyproofing electric outlets and cords around the house!
Got any of your own tips for protecting kids from electrical outlets and cords? Don’t be shy – share them in the comments below!