Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Electrical socket safety faceplates, review and how to make them fit properly!

This last week we went to Babies-R-Us to do some shopping, and they were having a sale on Babies-R-Us branded electrical socket covers.  These are the type that replace the existing faceplates and have a sliding socket cover, with a one-screw install.  We picked up four packages (enough for the baby’s room and the main room where he/she will generally be), and today I installed them.  The link above is for the same type as the Babies-R-Us faceplates, but they will work with decora or standard outlets whereas the ones we bought only work with standard socket outlets.

A few points about the Babies-R-Us covers.

  • These will only work with standard outlets, NOT decora.  Decora outlets are rectangular in shape and do not have a screw in the middle.  The standard decora faceplates have a rectangle cut out of the center and require two screws to install which can be seen at the right.

    Standard outlets are round-ish in shape and the standard faceplates have two round holes, one for each outlet.  The faceplate requires one screw to install, located between the two outlets.
  • The covers are deeper than standard covers and you may have difficulty getting larger plugs (like the kind that plugs into your cell-phone) to stay.  This problem likely applies to all faceplates of this style, not just the Babies-R-Us ones.  Read on to learn how to fix this problem.
  • The center screw that is included to hold the faceplate in place is not painted white like the ones that are likely in your existing faceplate.  Instead they are silver.  They also are longer than normal, so the screws that hold on your current faceplate won’t work.

Making the faceplates fit properly

We have an emergency flashlight/nightlight that we keep plugged into the outlet in the nursery.  If the power goes out, the led flashlight turns on.  If it is dark, a sensor turns on a different, downward facing led light which serves as a nightlight.  The unit that plugs in houses the nightlight and also serves both as a holder and charger for the flashlight.  As an added bonus, the flashlight charges with induction, so there are no contact points to be concerned about with the baby.  After installing the new safety outlet covers, the flashlight holder simply fell out of the socket.  This would likely be a problem with other things plugged into the babies room, such as a baby monitor (a normal plug works fine, the problem only applies to items with heavy plugs).  This is a problem because a very small air gap exists between the faceplate and the outlet.

The solution is very simple.  Before you put in the replacement faceplate, loosen the two screws that hold the socket itself in place.  These screws are the ones that attach the outlet to the box inside the wall, and are above and below the plastic face.  They can be seen in the image of the standard outlet above, and are the silver screw heads that are in the screw holes found in the metal bracket.  Don’t remove these screws, simply back them out about 1/8 of an inch.  When you screw the faceplate to the outlet, the outlet will pull out from the box just a bit and remove the small air gap that exists between the faceplate and the outlet due to the additional depth of the faceplate.  The faceplate still sits flush with the wall.  If the faceplate can be moved once installed, remove it and tighten the two screws that hold the outlet in place slightly (about 1/4 of a turn).  The faceplate should provide friction against the wall to prevent motion.

I hope this helps you to solve what could be a very frustrating problem!  Due to the Babies-R-Us faceplates having silver screws, I would not recommend them.  Otherwise they are fantastic, assuming you have standard outlets.  They do sell painted screws at Home Depot, and I will be checking to see if they have them in the appropriate size.  I will post an item number if I can locate the appropriate part.  Thanks for reading!

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Category: Baby-Gear, DIY
  • cbpeck says:

    A little white appliance paint – even White Out – will fix those screw heads easily enough.

    We used the plain jane outlet plugs for a few weeks with our firstborn, but he never showed any real interest in the outlets, so it was more of an annoyance than anything else. Assuming our second child is the same way, we’ll probably skip them this time around.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:03 am
  • Grandpa Bob says:

    We used the little plastic plug in thingies. They were cheap and filled or covered the holes so that nothing could be stuck into them. A whole lot easier than changing the covers!

    January 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm
  • Jeremy says:

    This is true… but they hurt like crazy when you step on them… and the fact that I remember stepping on them, means that they also stick around the house WAY too long. The faceplates also are a lot easier to plug into, for what it’s worth… Just my $.02 on why we didn’t go that route…

    January 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm
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