Childproof your home — not your life

Guest post by Nikki Cupcake

DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!I’m starting to get ready to baby proof our home. My little monster is just about to hit the 4 month mark and with my luck will go from rolling over straight to running. I’ve been researching what you should baby proof and I came across diagrams for every room with everything highlighted.

I started looking at some of the contraptions used to keep little hands away and some of these things creep me out! Some of the things used to protect my little one looked more dangerous than what they’re being protected from. It really makes me think, are we teaching kids to respect the adult world or are we teaching them to fear it?

While I was pondering that question, I came across an article in the January 2010 Parent magazine (“French Lessons” by Debra Olliver) about a woman who was born and raised in the US and moved to France where she raised her kids. She talks about how people in France raise their kids so differently than in the US. The women talked about how children are aren’t treated like little royalty and are taught to respect things unlike here, and they most defiantly don’t baby proof. In the US, I feel like everything is baby proof, especially our personal lives. All you do worry something bad is going to happen.

We as parents want to protect our children, but I think we’re over protecting them 90% of the time.

I thought about the article and it makes a lot of sense. We baby proof our lives so much we get scared. We as parents want to protect our children, but I think we’re over protecting them 90% of the time. We as a culture are taught to over medicate and over protect our children. Just look at the baby care industry for proof. Next time you’re in your pediatrician’s office look at the drug company posters on the wall or the pen used to fill out your child’s newest prescription. When my son was born, I was told not to take him out in public for 4 – 6 weeks! I then became slightly paranoid for a day my son would come down with every illness. The next day I realized I was being paranoid so we went out and took a walk to the park. Remember, you eat a pound of dirt before you die.

So now, thinking much clearer, I’m able to make the right choices for me to baby proof my home and not baby proof my life. I figure since I take my son everywhere as it is, he’ll respect people … he might as well respect objects too. I will teach my son how to respect things and not fear them. What good has ever come from someone fearing something?

Don’t get me wrong: I will still put outlet protectors in all the outlets and keep all cords and strings out of reach. I won’t let my son get near anything poison or anything too hot … but do I really need to lock the toilet?

Comments on Childproof your home — not your life

  1. its funny only in the us is considered bad to drink while pregnant. there is no proof that having a little sip of wine or anything is bad. its just heavy drinking is considered bad. i was reading a study not too long ago about

    and to be honest i drank while i was pregnant, i didn't know i was pregnant, but if i did know i think i still would have had that glass of wine here or there

    • the drinking thing drives me nuts. i was recently following a thread on FB in which a woman was convinced that a single drop of wine would cause FAS! despite everyone weighing in and saying things like "oh, i had a glass here and there, and my baby is fine," she continued to admonish and plead. For my part, i went cold turkey my first trimester, then for the rest of my pregnancy, i was back to one cup of coffee a day and a glass of wine here and there (not a big drinker in the first place, so it's not like i had to cut back or something.) And yeah, my kid is just fine!

    • It's considered bad in the UK too. Despite the evidence that a unit of alcohol per week is unlikely to be harmful, and may even be socially beneficial to the expectant mother, official guidelines still dictate that pregnant women should be advised to avoid alcohol at all costs. Apparently women aren't bright enough to understand that a small glass of wine is probably okay whereas a binge isn't. I also think this caffeine thing is bizarre- as with anything I reckon moderation is the key.

      • It’s the same in Australia. In fact, they have a big campaign here at the moment about how there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

  2. the other interesting thing talked about in the article is how the french don't hide the fact that they have sex with their partners from their kids. they'll actually say yes me and daddy (fill in the blank with something age appropriate) never making sex seam like a dirty/bad/secretive thing

  3. One thing to remember is that, as your baby grows, you'll notice what kind of things your child is interested in messing with, and you can then childproof and/or train the child from there. I never needed a toilet lock with my son; he had no interest in tossing stuff in and flushing it. I did, however, discover that he was madly attracted to the little caps that cover the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. And (on my toilets at least) they were easily removable and a perfect choking hazard. I wasn't able to teach him, at age 10 months, that he needed to leave them alone. So I put clear plastic tape on them to hold them down, and that was it.

    Some basics, like plugs for electrical outlets or latches for cupboards with toxic contents, I think pretty much every parent should do. And if you have any item that you would be absolutely heartbroken if it got broken, you should probably put it away until… well, until the kid moves out. But for much of the rest, I think you can wait and see and then react as needed.

    Sometimes there will be screw-ups and things will get damaged, even when you think you're way past the baby-proofing stage. My son was about 9 when he decided to etch "Hi Mom" into the wooden coffee table with a screwdriver. But overall, he stayed safe with pretty minimal childproofing (compared to what the books talk about) and he's learned to be reasonably careful with things. And that "Hi Mom" coffee table is a pretty funny memento of childhood.

    • see i don't think like that at all. i'm not going to learn what my child is or isn't into, i'm going to teach him to respect things. and believe it or not i think babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

      • Nikkicupcake I am sorry to say that you cannot teach a 10mth old to respect little things that they can choke on luv. I totally agree with Sss each child is intrested in diffrent things and this changes with age and we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our kids first and foremost then teach respect of things.

  4. I have an almost eight month old little boy who is almost crawling [he's got the slide thing going on pretty well] and we are yet to baby proof. We have socket plugs and are going to get gates for the stairs but other than using it as an excuse to get better storage in our house that's all we will do.
    We also aren't extremely vigilant about sterilising as he puts everything in his mouth and is yet to get sick from it [although for some reason we are vigilant when it comes to his dummies].

    I think its a lot more beneficial for the child to learn life lessons than wear bubble wrap all their life.

  5. This reminded me of the Reggio Emilia nurseries in Italy and the self guided approach to learning they have with the children there. My mum as a early years teacher went over there and it was refreshing to see young children using tools, drinking from glass cups and accessing and respecting the adult world a lot more than allowed here in the UK or the US.

  6. My job is all about 'child safety', and I have to say it's refreshing to hear everyone's opinions on this. My two cents? There's two main things I would say:
    – Be with young kids when they're near water (pools, spas, bath etc.) and cars
    – Model 'safe' (for want of a better word) behaviour, talk about it and help children to understand their boundaries.

  7. I bought a six pack of eye hook latches and stuck them on each door and I bought one child safety gate for the kitchen. That's the same thing I did with my older daughter who has made it to the ripe old age of 14- so I'm pretty comfortable with it.

    I haven't read the article mentioned, but it sounds like I agree with the French. I will not make it difficult to get in or out of my own cabinets. Nor will I stick everything out of reach. Instead, I will teach my child what she can play with and what she can't. (Within reason of course).

  8. I think that so-called babyproofing can backfire – so much time is spent on making the environment safe that a false sense of security can be created.

  9. yeah its crazy! no one really knows how much drinking can cause fas except heavy amounts of drinking i drank here and there and gave birth to a 8lb + monster with no issues

    oh and i drank coffee while i was pregnant my occupation is barista

  10. my husband and i don't quite see eye-to-eye on this issue yet. his idea of babyproofing isn't over the top, but it's definitely excessive in my mind. reminding me of the entry a month or so back about generations of off-beatness, where i commented that i'm second generation and my husband is becoming first generation under my influence, lol. my idea of babyproofing is outlet covers, a baby gate over the stairs, and a cabinet lock for the undersink cabinets where we keep the cleaning supplies. he wants to pad corners of furniture, lock off all the cabinets, the toilet, all the doorknobs, closets…you catch my drift. i talked him out of most of it, but he's having trouble letting go of padded corners on furniture. i'm working on him. maybe this entry will help.

    really though, i completely agree with this…if we keep our children from every observing or experiencing these things, how are they going to know how to behave when they encounter them elsewhere? if i let my MIL insist that the baby only gets plastic dishes until the age of 13, how is that ever going to teach the baby that you have to be careful with dishes because they're breakable? i had ceramic dishes as a baby…white, with a blue stripe around the outside, and four yellow ducks painted on it, with some waves suggesting that fifth duck was there and it dunked. it had a big epoxied crack down the middle where it had broken. but i can count on one hand the number of dishes i've broken in my lifetime (and one was on purpose, lol).

  11. when i was growing up at my aunt's house they had corner protectors around their kitchen island because of me. i remember still bumping into them and how bad they hurt so they really didn't do any good

  12. You have a great point. I think that we aren't teaching our kids just to respect or fear adult spaces with this stuff as much as we are telling to them to completely stay out of "our" sphere.

  13. It's the difference between preparing them for life and shielding them from it. We don't have stairgates, rarely use monitors but I still doubt whether I'd let the children use public transport on their own before they're 13 (we live in London). Wish I had more faith in my children and the public, but I am a victim of 'what if' as much as the next person.

    • I wouldnt beat yourself up too much over the not allowing travelling on public transport in London. Cause there are a lot of bad bad people out there.

    • As a second generation ‘offbeat kid’, I support you NOT doing that. My Dutch mom let me fly from America and change trains from holland to germany ALL ALONE at age 9. I was an old soul, but really, wouldn’t let my kid do that, it was really scary and I felt obliged to not let on..12 yeah, 9, no 🙂

  14. There may be one advantage to toddlerproofing the toilet, as outlined in this article I read on the BBC a while ago
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7779024.stm
    which is all about an increase in the number of penile crush injuries that are being seen due to toddlers accidentally dropping wooden toilet lids or seats on themselves. To be fair though, they've only reported 250 cases in the entire UK so locking the kid out of the bathroom or removing the lid may be a bit OTT.

  15. We don't even have outlet covers. My mother in law over protects him to the point where he is LITERALLY afraid of light bulbs, stoves, electrical cords, outlets, light switches, etc. (it took ages to get over his toilet fear while we were potty training) While my mother in law tries her hardest to make him scared, spoiled, shy and obsessive; we have to try twice as hard to "undo" everything she does each weekend. My mother in law could write a book on how NOT to raise a kid!!!

  16. I was told not to take my newborn out in public or to be judicious about doing so for 6 weeks too. But here is how my doctor explained it. Apparently, if a baby that young gets a fever, the doctor is obligated (required?) to put the baby in the hospital for 3 days, just in case they have something serious (meningitis?). So the advice not to take the baby out was to save my husband and I the expense, stress and inconvenience of what would in all likelihood be an unnecessary hospital visit. Everyone thought I was typical over-protective mom, but my nightmare scenario was spending 3 days and nights in a hospital with a newborn, and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. My baby did not get any fevers, and once he passed the magical age, I relaxed a lot.

    • actually the reason why i was told not to talk my child out was because of the issues he had at birth he spent the first 9 days of his life in the NICU

      after i told my pediatrician (2 different ones to be correct) they both said it was complete BS babies get fevers all the time. and while my son was under a month old he had a fever and wasn't put in the hospital

  17. Pediatricians are not only obligated to hospitalize a baby for several days but also to draw blood for blood cultures, collect urine for urine cultures and do a lumbar puncture to collect CSF to culture it too. All this is because an infection in a newborn can be really, really bad. UTIs can quickly become kidney infections that do lasting damage. Meningitis can leave a perfectly normal baby deaf and brain-damaged, if they survive. It is smart to be extra careful for the first four weeks (longer for premature babies) but after that relax and let them roll around in the dirt when they get older.

  18. my husband and i don't quite see eye-to-eye on this issue yet. his idea of babyproofing isn't over the top, but it's definitely excessive in my mind. reminding me of the entry a month or so back about generations of off-beatness, where i commented that i'm second generation and my husband is becoming first generation under my influence, lol. my idea of babyproofing is outlet covers, a baby gate over the stairs, and a cabinet lock for the undersink cabinets where we keep the cleaning supplies. he wants to pad corners of furniture, lock off all the cabinets, the toilet, all the doorknobs, closets…you catch my drift. i talked him out of most of it, but he's having trouble letting go of padded corners on furniture. i'm working on him. maybe this entry will help.

    really though, i completely agree with this…if we keep our children from every observing or experiencing these things, how are they going to know how to behave when they encounter them elsewhere? if i let my MIL insist that the baby only gets plastic dishes until the age of 13, how is that ever going to teach the baby that you have to be careful with dishes because they're breakable? i had ceramic dishes as a baby…white, with a blue stripe around the outside, and four yellow ducks painted on it, with some waves suggesting that fifth duck was there and it dunked. it had a big epoxied crack down the middle where it had broken. but i can count on one hand the number of dishes i've broken in my lifetime (and one was on purpose, lol).

  19. I am so surprised by the sheer number of people that don't take childproofing their home into consideration when having a baby. Most of these little safety measure are so simple and effective, just get them done and go on with your lives.

  20. I didn't do outlet covers. Or cover cords (although they are all zip-tied anyway). I did put a gate between the main room of the house and the kitchen, as well as one on the front door – and before my boys were able to climb (they are now 7 and 3), I put one at the bottom of the stairs. But other than that, I didn't baby proof the house much. However – I (still) don't keep a lot of things in the house that attract small children – not a lot of knick knacks (sp?) or glass or whatnot. I have a lot of kid books and toys available for the kids and at their level. Sure, I spent some time saying "that's not for baby, this is for baby", but really it wasn't that bad. And I liked not having to say "no" all the time.

    peace…

  21. While I love this post, sometimes I think all the baby-proofing madness is more to protect babies from stupid parents. There were things my parents did with me as a child that are recommended to never do now-they let me play with their keys, they gave me whole vienna sausages to chew on (oh no, they could cause choking!), by the time I was in first grade, I walked to school with another 6 year old and no parents, I never used a sippy cup (I graduated to a regular plastic cup at 15 months), I was potty trained before I was 2. I not only survived, I thrived.

  22. My mother child-proofed nothing – not even the chemicals or electrical outlets. I made it to age 27 so far and I'm still kicking 😉

    I had a sippy cup, but it was the tupperware kind that if you up-ended it, it just leaked all over the carpet 😛

  23. Am I the only one that was never told anything about not taking a new born out in public? My grandfather had a massive stroke the night we came home from the hospital and passed away a few days later. I took my little one to dozens of family gatherings, the wake, the funeral and even up to the hospital to see him before he died… I wasn't worried for a second about her catching something.
    And as for childproofing – we have outlet covers because of my paranoid fear of them. A friend of the family had a child who died from sticking keys in an outlet. But other than that it's just locks on the kitchen cabinets since we don't use a baby gate to keep her out. But when visiting relatives – it just takes a little redirection to keep her away from things she's not supposed to touch. A simple "No ma'am" keeps her out of most things.

  24. Charli: I wasn't told not to take my newborn out in public. I went shopping with one of them when they were 6days old. *shrug* Just because I had a baby didn't mean that life stopped so he could get a bit older. I still had things to do – a family to take care of. I just put him in the sling and did what I needed to do – and refused to allow anyone to touch him.

    peace…

  25. I plan to lock my toilet, not to protect my son (also nearing 4 months), but to save myself from cleaning up the constant playtime in toilet water, ha ha. I agree entirely with your post! I will not be lining the edges of my furniture with rounded plastic or even putting locks on my cabinet doors (given, I will use a baby gate for our kitchen as our kitchen is dangerous to US!). Babies learn from an "ouch!" here and there. Just last week, my son wacked himself in the face with a rattle. My response? "Ouch, huh kiddo? Now you know where not to swing that thing! Ha ha"

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