Help! How do you baby-proof a cabin with stairs and a loft but no doors?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 02-15-2011, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe Alaska mamas can help me out on this one!  

 

I live in a cabin with the bedroom upstairs but no door.  This has been especially worrisome because we co-sleep with our 4 month old and unfortunately our *cats* as well.  I spend most of the night making sure he's ok and the cats aren't near him.  This is our first issue.  Second issue is how to baby-proof this setup?? The floor is only partly carpeted with old beat up wood floors throughout.  How can my son crawl around?? And then there's these treacherous open stairs which I was afraid to go up and down during pregnancy.  A baby gate won't even help because there's open railing too.  I'm afraid my husband's going to have to build a whole wall or something.  I really just want to move (we rent) but we don't have the money to do that and won't by the time my son is crawling.  I feel like this is no place to raise a toddler but it's our only option right now.  I just don't want him all over these floors.... I understand *wearing* your baby, which I do a lot, but he's got to be on the floor sometime.  Is a "pack and play" my only option??

 

Any advice would be great!!

 

Also, I'm reposting this under Alaska forum as well.  : )    

 

 


 


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#2 of 12 Old 02-15-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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Pioneer babies crawled around on dirt floors.  Babies living in rural countries crawl around in dirt (have you see the documentary "Babies").  Really, crawling on uneven wood floor is not a big deal.


Are you worried about the top or bottom of the stairs?  You can buy covers to go over slats in railings so baby can't fall through (http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=131755&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85216&subCategoryId=86197 and http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=353763&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85216&subCategoryId=86197).  If they are completely open I would ask your landlord if you can redo the railing at your expense and do that.  Otherwise you're going to have to make sure that someone is up there supervising your ds at all times, and that he doesn't get out of bed and wander at night.

 

At the bottom,  if there is no railing to mount a gate to you could move heavy furniture around the stairs so baby can't get to them.


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#3 of 12 Old 02-15-2011, 10:26 PM
 
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You could put up a railing and then attach chicken wire securely to it to enclose the sides fairly cheaply, I would imagine.  When he is bigger, you will need at least some type of side rail or bolster to keep him safely in the bed (and maybe a rope tied to his ankle bouncy.gif).  If you're worried about splinters, knee pads might be a good idea for a crawler, and maybe some fingerless leather gloves, if you can find any that tiny!


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#4 of 12 Old 02-16-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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I'm trying to envision the loft.  I'm picturing my friend's cabin which has a railing the width of the loft (like a balcony, yk?) and an opening for the spiral staircase - no door.  I guess I'll answer as if that's your set-up

 

For an unsafe/too open railing you can put up that kind of plastic "chicken wire" (I guess it's more of a garden fencing? It comes in big rolls and you can get it at the hardware store.).  Our friends did that on their balcony.  You have to make sure it's very securely fastened, esp at the bottom. 

 

My friends who have the cabin did put baby gates at the top and the bottom of the spiral staircase.  They kind of had to rig them up with... oh shoot I forget what they're called... kind of like heavy duty plastic ties that you have to cut open once they're tightened - I hope you can picture what I mean.

 

You also might want to think about sleeping on the ground floor if that's an option.  And either way I probably wouldn't use the loft as a play/free crawling zone because you'll probably want to always keep a close eye on him when he's up there and awake.

 

Re. the rough wood floors... well, for now when you put him down you can put down a blanket.  You could think about getting a rug (or rugs) to cover the worst patches of wood floor if you're really worried (you can often get carpet remnants for pretty cheap if you go to a carpet warehouse).  Other than that, as long as there aren't splinters, I think he'll be perfectly fine crawling around.  You can make sure he always has pants on to protect his knees.

 

You can use a pack'n'play too (as you mentioned).  Some kids rebel against them, some kids don't.  They can be handy for those moments when it's difficult to keep an eagle eye on him (while you're chopping things to make dinner, while you're taking a shower or going pee, etc).  Other "baby containment devices" (eek!) that he might enjoy more are jolly jumpers and exersaucers.  If you have a circle of friends with kids it's usually relatively easy to find someone who has one or other of those that they're looking to pass on or lend out.


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#5 of 12 Old 02-16-2011, 07:08 PM
 
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Other ideas are to simply gate off the whole upstairs loft area with a really big gate like this: http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=5804&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85217

 

You could also construct a play yard like this that would be slightly better than a pack 'n play for a mobile child. My kids would never have lasted long in a pack 'n play.

http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=488757&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85217


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#6 of 12 Old 02-17-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pianojazzgirl View Post

I'm trying to envision the loft.  I'm picturing my friend's cabin which has a railing the width of the loft (like a balcony, yk?) and an opening for the spiral staircase - no door.  I guess I'll answer as if that's your set-up

 

For an unsafe/too open railing you can put up that kind of plastic "chicken wire" (I guess it's more of a garden fencing? It comes in big rolls and you can get it at the hardware store.).  Our friends did that on their balcony.  You have to make sure it's very securely fastened, esp at the bottom. 

 

My friends who have the cabin did put baby gates at the top and the bottom of the spiral staircase.  They kind of had to rig them up with... oh shoot I forget what they're called... kind of like heavy duty plastic ties that you have to cut open once they're tightened - I hope you can picture what I mean.

 

You also might want to think about sleeping on the ground floor if that's an option.  And either way I probably wouldn't use the loft as a play/free crawling zone because you'll probably want to always keep a close eye on him when he's up there and awake.

 

Re. the rough wood floors... well, for now when you put him down you can put down a blanket.  You could think about getting a rug (or rugs) to cover the worst patches of wood floor if you're really worried (you can often get carpet remnants for pretty cheap if you go to a carpet warehouse).  Other than that, as long as there aren't splinters, I think he'll be perfectly fine crawling around.  You can make sure he always has pants on to protect his knees.

 

You can use a pack'n'play too (as you mentioned).  Some kids rebel against them, some kids don't.  They can be handy for those moments when it's difficult to keep an eagle eye on him (while you're chopping things to make dinner, while you're taking a shower or going pee, etc).  Other "baby containment devices" (eek!) that he might enjoy more are jolly jumpers and exersaucers.  If you have a circle of friends with kids it's usually relatively easy to find someone who has one or other of those that they're looking to pass on or lend out.



This is what I was thinking of too, the garden fencing. They typically come in 2, 4, 6 ft heighths. So if you have a wood railing with wide slats you should be able to connect it to the railing. Also if you look at stair gates you might come across some ideas for attaching a baby gate. When we were shopping online for top of the stair gates I came across some pics and tutorial from parents who had attached gates to wood posts, metal railings etc.

 

How bad is the floor? Is it splintering and really rough? I would think about trying to get some carpet to cover up the worst of it. If it's just a bit rough and uneven I wouldn't worry too much, we've had that type of flooring once with ds and it wasn't a big deal. If you think splinters would be an issue then I'd definitely consider some remnant carpet/area rug and long pants.

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#7 of 12 Old 02-17-2011, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe loft was the wrong word.  I guess I just call it that because there's no door.  It's really just an open staircase that sort of curves up the back corner of the cabin to the upstairs.  The stairs are just boards that are open with our water pump/heater and other treacherous things stored underneath.  That will be a whole other issue when he is going up and down stairs.

 

As for the garden fencing/chicken wire... I know what you all are talking about.  Really good idea for the top!  And I guess I'll just have to keep my eye on him...not that I wouldn't anyway.  : P  

 

The flooring is really bad especially on the ground floor.  Just picture: very rustic.  You can tell that they tried to put new wood down over the existing but it's not much better.  In several places there are chunks of wood coming up if you step on it the wrong way.  This happens a lot with big winter boots.  I'm thinking maybe remnant carpet might help or even some linoleum type stuff since it's the kitchen area?  Can you even get remnant linoleum?  Is it toxic?  I have no idea....  Other than that the bottom floor is just in a word - dirty.  It's hard to keep it clean because of the uneven floors and the on/off with the winter boots...as well as our overabundance of cat fur.  The whole thing makes me crazy.  I was a grime-a-phobe (I know germs are important I just don't like dirty!) to begin with but I'm having to work through those issues living here.  I'm thinking gloves and pants might be the answer!

 

Thanks!


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#8 of 12 Old 02-17-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DahliaRW View Post

Pioneer babies crawled around on dirt floors.  Babies living in rural countries crawl around in dirt (have you see the documentary "Babies").  Really, crawling on uneven wood floor is not a big deal.


Are you worried about the top or bottom of the stairs?  You can buy covers to go over slats in railings so baby can't fall through (http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=131755&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85216&subCategoryId=86197 and http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=353763&parentCategoryId=85183&categoryId=85216&subCategoryId=86197).  If they are completely open I would ask your landlord if you can redo the railing at your expense and do that.  Otherwise you're going to have to make sure that someone is up there supervising your ds at all times, and that he doesn't get out of bed and wander at night.

 

At the bottom,  if there is no railing to mount a gate to you could move heavy furniture around the stairs so baby can't get to them.



We have that first linked guard and it works really well for our open railing. For the flooring I would go with carpet remnants -- like a big rug, instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. We have cats, and I vacuum every day. I agree that babies can get dirty, but I think in the longrun having some kind of covering will help you not feel as stressed once your baby's mobile.

 

Can you mount anything to the walls around the base of the steps? I know you said you're renting, but it sounds like mounting a gate wouldn't mess things up too badly. We have this one and it's wonderful -- you can get extensions for it, too, and it can be placed at an angle. It's expensive, but if you move, you can take it with you. 

 

We recently stayed at a cabin that had a floorplan similar to what you're describing, I think, and we put a big cooler at the base of the stairs to block it off for our toddler. But the upstairs area had doors in the bedrooms. If yours has a doorway but no door, I'd put a pressure baby gate there. I wouldn't use heavy furniture to block off the stairs, because then you'll have to move it whenever you want to use the stairs. Unless your little one turns out to be a climber, having something like a big cooler, just blocking off the area might help him avoid it altogether until he's old enough to start using the stairs with your help.

 

You can also put a flat sheet over your bedding, so when the cats sleep with you, all you have to do is take off the flat sheet to wash it, and not have to change your whole bedding out.


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#9 of 12 Old 02-18-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Re. the dirt.  Can you have a rubber tray and welcome mat near the front door for the winter boots and then keep some "house shoes" to change into right near the front door?  I know that if the floors are really uneven like that you might not want to have soft slippers, but if you reserve some shoes just for indoor they should do the trick to protect your feet.  I know the whole winter boot thing is annoying.  Our house is in the middle of the city (v. urban) and *right* on the sidewalk (you open the front door and are on the sidewalk).  So much slush and salt and gravel and all manner of crap is brought into our house during the winter.  We keep a big rug in front of the front door which is the "dirty" rug for leaving boots on, the stroller or sled, etc.  We do have to vacuum it often (for salt and gravel) , but we don't worry about dirt stains (and it's in a colour/pattern that doesn't show dirt too badly).  In the spring we get it cleaned.

 

I don't think linoleum is toxic, but you would probably have to stick it onto the floor (which I imagine wouldn't be too cool with your landlord) vs. just laying down carpet remnants.  Another idea (something I've done in a couple different apartments I've rented in the past) is trade labour for supplies with your landlord, in order to lay down some decent flooring (tiles?) in the kitchen area.  That assumes you're up to doing a tiling job though!


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#10 of 12 Old 02-18-2011, 08:21 AM
 
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I have been born and raised in Alaska so I know exactly the floor plan you are talking about. It is the same floor plan that we have. What we have done is to put up a railing along the edge of the loft. It is just a simple 2x4 railing with uprights of 2x2 2 inches apart. ( think porch railing) this was actually a very cheap solution. It was about as expensive as the plastic fencing stuff and much more attractive. I would ask your landlord if you could do something like that and take it off your next months rent. ( we are landlords as well and an open loft like that is a liability) As for the flooring we have plywood floors with area rugs. They can be pretty uneven and slinters are as possibility as well as just a fact of life. If it is bare knees crawling around you are worried about I would get a couple pairs of baby legs to cover his knees with. If it is just the grim you are worried about I would just be sure to wash his hands, knees and feet before bed or eating anything. I am not a grime-a-phobe though so...

 

P.S. I can send you pictures of the railing if need be, I actually took pictures of it when we were working on it.

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#11 of 12 Old 02-18-2011, 02:42 PM
 
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The garden fence is a great idea; I'd say staple up chicken wire to the underside of the stairs too so they aren't open in back.


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#12 of 12 Old 02-18-2011, 03:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by an_aurora View Post
 I'd say staple up chicken wire to the underside of the stairs too so they aren't open in back.


That is a great idea!


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