Children can be a handful as they grow and become more inquisitive about their surroundings. When they play with light switches, they can damage the switch or the light bulb it controls. They’re also exposing themselves to electric shock.

So how can you child-proof the switches and protect them? Here are four effective ways to do it:

  • Buy and install a light switch protector
  • Install a DIY cover on your light switch
  • Cover the switch temporarily
  • Block off access to the switch

The rest of the article will look at the above methods in more detail. Watch for product recommendations from Amazon to simplify the process for you, so let’s get started.

1. Buy and Install a Light Switch Protector

The easiest way to child-proof a light switch is to get a light switch guard. You can buy one from a store near you or online.

The ILIVABLE Light Switch Guard and the LYOOWNG Light Switch Guard Cover are two examples you can get. They’re easy to install and have a clear design that’ll seamlessly fit your décor. Once you’ve bought the light switch cover, it’s time to install them.

Here are the steps for the installation that’ll work for both rocker and toggle light switch covers:

  1. Get the screwdriver. Your standard flat or star-head screwdriver will work for most switch guards on the market.
  2. Unbox the package. When removing your light switch guard from the packaging, you have to pay attention to avoid tearing the documentation and any instructions. It’s also a good idea to be careful with the packaging so you won’t have any problems returning the switch guards if they don’t work well for you.
  3. Position the light switch cover for installation. Push up slightly on the front cover. You need to ensure the arrows on the front side, and the backplate is facing upwards. Move the front cover, so it slides up around a ¼” (0.64 cm).
  4. Separate the front side from the back cover. Slowly remove the front cover from both sides around the bottom to open the locking mechanism. Once done, squeeze the front cover from both sides closer to the top to remove the back cover completely.
  5. Take out the screws from the switch plate with the screwdriver. However, you don’t have to remove the switch plate, as it should be on the light switch. You also need to retain the screws. Don’t throw away the screws on the light switch, as you’re likely to use them later when you uninstall the light switch cover in the future when you no longer need the child-proofing.
  6. Install the back cover of the light switch protector over your light switch. Check to confirm that the arrow is still turned upwards, and then gently put the backplate over the light switch. Use the screws that came with your packaging to screw the backplate into position.
  7. Install the front cover on your light switch. Again, check to confirm that the signal arrow is pointing upwards. Put the front cover of the protector on the switch backplate and squeeze it gently before sliding it into its position.

With the light switch protector installed, you can now put your finger under the front cover whenever you want to use the switch. It’ll be hard for your child to do the same.

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2. Install a DIY Cover on Your Light Switch

If you’d rather not spend money on a light switch protector, you can make yours at home. Here are the steps to make your DIY light switch cover:

  1. Cut out a plastic cover. The plastic cover you cut out needs to be long enough to cover the switch plate. Increase the measurement a bit to ensure the covering can protect the light switch from your toddler while still allowing you enough room to maneuver the switch. You may need to cut out a slightly bigger plastic piece if you have rocker switches instead of toggle switches.
  2. Decorate the cutout. You can do without this step, but it’s nice to decorate the cut out to ensure it fits with the rest of your décor. You can skip this step if you use clear plastic, as the cover won’t stand out too much in that scenario. If you choose to decorate, be sure to avoid going overboard with it. If it looks too much fun, your child will likely find it attractive.
  3. Open holes in the cutout. Remove the screws holding the light switch and position the plastic piece over the switch face to highlight positions for the screws. Use the screwdriver to punch holes around the positions you’ve mapped out for the screws. You can also use the screws to make the holes.
  4. Affix the cover into position. Place your DIY cover over the light switch, making sure to line it up against the holes, then insert the screws and tighten them to hold the cover in place.
  5. After tightening the cover in place, you can access the switch from the side of the cover to use the switch. If your child finds a way around the cover, you can consider making the cover bigger.

3. Cover the Switch Temporarily

One approach you can consider if you don’t want to buy any light switch covers or construct one is to cover up the switch temporarily. It sounds drastic, but it may be your only choice with some children, which might make sense if you don’t need regular access to the switch.

All you need to do is find a small plastic cover, turn on the switch, cover it up and hold the cover in place with some tape. You may also use the tape directly on the light switch by taping down the switch in the position of your choice, which might either be switched off or on.

When you need access to the switch, you can peel off the tape and replace it when you’re done.

It’s not the most flexible approach to use, but it gets the job done.

4. Block Off Access to the Switch

The previous solutions are all focused on protecting the switch directly. However, you can also child-proof a light switch indirectly by blocking off access to it. Think of some practical ways to make it harder for your child to reach the switch.

Here are some examples:

  • Hide the switch behind a flower vase. You can strategically position a flower vase such that the plant can cover the switch. The plant doesn’t have to be real if you don’t want the stress of caring for one. A vase filled with artificial flowers can do a good job of covering up the switch.
  • Move the chair. Do you have a chair or cushion that gives your child a leg up to reach the switch? Consider moving it away from the wall if it’s practical. A few futile attempts to reach the switch and the child will most likely forget about it.
  • Move your bookshelf. You can also use your bookshelf to cover the switch. Draw it towards the switch, leaving enough space for your fingers to slide in, and turn the switch on or off when you need it.
  • Use decorative camouflage. If you’re good with paintings, you can paint over the light switch with some art that blends into the décor. Use colors to hide the switch properly, and you’re good to go.

Blocking off access to the switch works well with children because they tend to operate on an “out of sight, out of mind” principle. If they don’t see the switch, they’re unlikely to play with it.

Other Ways to Keep Your Child Away From the Light Switch

Some additional approaches for keeping your child away from the light switch include the following:

  • Talk to them about the dangers of playing with a light switch. You can teach your child the risks associated with using the light switch as a plaything, depending on their age. It’s not going to catch on immediately, but with a few of your parenting skills, you can get results. Approaches like rewarding good behavior will never go out of style.
  • Keep the child busy. What other toys do they love to play with? Can you get them outdoors a bit more? If the child is getting enough playtime and has other toys to stay busy with, you may not have to spend too much time chasing them away from the light switch.

Final Thoughts

Child-proofing a light switch is all about keeping the child away from the switch. Light switch covers, branded and DIY, are the most common approaches adopted, but with a little bit of creativity, you can make the switch out of reach for your child. 

Sometimes, all it takes is some discussion and buying a few more toys to permanently get the switch out of the child’s mind. Other times, you’ll have to work a bit harder. Choose any of the methods discussed above that’s most practical to you.

Related: What Is the Standard Height for Light Switches?

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