Brooklyn’s new baby-proofers

<i>As stroller brigade moves into new high-rises, kid safety concerns migrate to new neighborhoods throughout the borough</i>

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Fred and Courtney Ilarraza, cofounders of Baby Bodyguards

The term “baby-proofing” is increasingly turning up in conversations in new corners of Brooklyn. As more families move from brownstones to new high-rise condos and rentals in places like Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn, concerns about making those spaces safe for kids are suddenly on the rise.

The modernism of some buildings’ designs — think far-above-the-sidewalk terraces and tricky internal stairs — is adding to the baby-proofing craze, said Fred Ilarraza, cofounder of Baby Bodyguards, a Brooklyn-based company.

“There’s a shift toward new construction among families, at the same time that they are becoming more concerned about how safe their homes are,” said Ilarraza, a former title insurer who founded the company in 2007 with his wife, Courtney, after the birth of their son.

For the first few years of the company’s existence, almost all of its clients were from Park Slope and Boerum Hill and lived in brownstones, he said. But in the past year or so, the percentage of non-brownstone work has jumped as many new high-rises have come online: Half of Ilarraza’s clients now live in new buildings, he said.

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At 42 Main Street in Dumbo, a 10-story condo developed by Shaya Boymelgreen in 2004, for example, Baby Bodyguards added clear polycarbonate panels to a roof deck’s railings that extended past their edges, so that young children would have a hard time climbing over.

At the nearby 33-story J Condo, at 100 Jay Street, parents worry that kids can pull out the drawers in the European-style kitchen cabinets and squeeze into the spaces between them. In that building, Baby Bodyguards provided its dozen or so clients with special latches to keep those drawers in place.

Other clients include residents of the Edge, the Williamsburg condo. A family that bought a duplex there recently worried that the horizontally strung cables of the mezzanine railing could be an appealing ladder to kids, so they had them sheathed in plastic, according to Troy Berman, director of Clinton Management, which runs the complex. They also added a kitchen gate, Berman said.

If modern architecture like this is now a red flag for families, it doesn’t seem to be hurting sales among that demographic, said broker Vanessa Connelly of Halstead Property, who handles sales at Toren in Downtown Brooklyn.

In fact, last month, Connelly staged a “baby expo” in a penthouse at Toren that included Baby Bodyguards, without worrying about any bad PR it might suggest for the building, which has sold 173 of 240 units. “I don’t think it’s viewed negatively,” said Connelly, who is a mother. “It’s just something you do now wherever you live.”