Kid Stuff

Baby-Proofing

Keeping tykes out of trouble can be a time-consuming proposition for any parent. Today, more busy parents turn to professional baby-proofers to help make their homes safer and bring much-needed peace of mind.

Baby-proofing has taken root only in the past decade, but its ranks are growing faster than you can say "Barney." Barbara Kelczewski, president of the International Association for Child Safety and the owner of Baby Bee Safe, a baby-proofing firm in Parsippany, New Jersey, estimates there are more than 100 professional baby-proofers in the United States. She attributes the industry's growth to an increasing awareness of safety hazards in the home, which gained attention when former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop announced in 1993 that home accidents are the number-one killer of young children.

Stacy Kibort, a 34-year-old mother and owner of Baby Proof It! in Plymouth, Minnesota, was motivated to become a baby-proofer in 1994 because of accidents she heard had happened to others. "I knew a number of people who had been permanently burned or disfigured by childhood accidents," says Kibort. "I wanted to be in a business where I could prevent problems and make a positive difference."

Baby-proofers can start for about $10,000, which includes standard office equipment, insurance and professional training from experienced baby-proofers. Most baby-proofers charge between $35 and $75 per hour for consultation and installation, depending on their location and experience; it costs about $500 to baby-proof the average home.

Baby-proofing businesses are most successful in metropolitan areas. You need a steady supply of new customers, because repeat customers are rare. It's also important to be in an area where customers can afford to buy what you provide. "One of the best things about this business is, it's so rewarding," Kelczewski says. "Parents are truly grateful for your service."

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Kid Stuff.

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