Saturday, November 9, 2013

Baby Proofing a Book Shelf Tutorial

With my first baby, we didn't have any book shelves where she played, but we protected one of our shelves with our DVD player on it using velcro and a piece of sheer fabric.  Then with my son, we just dealt with the book destruction that comes with kids and books.  You know all those people who say baby proofing is just for lazy parents who can't teach their kids no?  Well whatever.  I tried that.  We lost some books with my son.  No matter how many times you say no, they still want to try to rip paper because it's just so much fun, apparently.  Eventually he grew out of it.  Even today every once in a while I'll look and see my husband, standing in front of the book shelves, frowning and sighing about all the ripped covers.  Sad.

With baby number three, we have two bookshelves in our main living space, and I was considering moving them into my craft room just to keep them out of her reach, but there's really not a great space in there for them.  As she's crawling and on the verge of walking, the shelves seem to be a favorite area, and I can see that she's starting to notice the joys of paper-ripping.  The other day I found my youngest baby with a choking-sized piece of Robert Jordan's Crown of Swords cover in her mouth, so something had to be done.

There probably isn't such a thing as a baby proof bookshelf, but this is what I did to make my bookshelves baby-resistant.

What you need:
-Enough fabric to cover your shelves.  You should probably measure before going to the store, if you're a planner like that. I picked up 3 1/4 yards of chevron printed burlap at Walmart (didn't measure first, so I hoped it was enough and it is more than enough).  I guess burlap in the fall is a trendy thing, or something? I would not use any stretchy fabric.
-Coordinating thread.  I used tan.
-Grommets (buy the pack of whichever size you like that has the grommet installing kit if you don't already have one)
-7/8 inch cup or mug hooks (4 or more for each shelf) these are the ones I used, but in silver color.
-Felt scraps

 First, measure the open area of your book shelf that you want to cover.  Then cut your fabric with 1 1/2 inches extra on each side.  If you are not using something that unravels like burlap, you may want to make a smaller seam allowance.
When you are cutting burlap, I would not use your nicest scissors as I've heard it can dull them quickly.  My really old dull scissors still cut it just fine.

Using a very hot iron (cotton setting), press the seams in twice on two opposite sides (turn under 3/4 of an inch each time), then sew them with a top stitch.  I had my machine set with a sturdy needle to stitch length 2 and a narrow zig zag.  Then press the other two sides in twice and sew them.

Next, set the grommets in each corner, following the directions on your packaging.  I stitched on a small piece of felt in each corner to give the material more strength before setting the grommets.  Make sure they are close enough to the edge that your cup hooks will fit over your seam edge and into the hole.  Hold a cup hook up to the edge to make sure before you put the grommet in.  I avoided putting it right on the seam as much as I could since it would be uneven.

Here's a good video for setting grommets that you can refer to.

Then hold your panel up to the shelf and hold up a hook and figure out where you'd like to screw the hook in.  Mine look like this:
You should probably pre-drill your holes, but I got lazy and didn't so I kinda split one a tiny bit.  Oops!  The others went in with no problems.

Place all four hooks and put up your panel.  If you want a book, just slide the grommet out of the hook and then replace it.  If you don't want hooks, consider sticky velcro, or even tension rods as an alternative.

No more book eating in my house.

Credit goes to my friend Abby for the idea.  I think she has something similar at her house!


  1. This is AMAZING! I spent so much time looking into diy baby proofing ideas and this has been my favorite. A big THANK YOU mr and my very curious 8 month old!

  2. Thank you so much for this suggestion. I am a grandmother with several young grandchildren aged two and under. I had five open shelves that needed to be baby proofed. I tried your suggestion and I really like the results. It is easy to put up and take down and it looks a lot better than paper and masking tape. Also my two year old grandson learned how to tear the paper.

  3. This is awesome! Love the idea!!