Baby proofing your home
(Goblin is 37 months)My bloggy buddy Krissy from B-Inspired Mama has a great series called From the Mouths of Moms where she asks a bunch of mummy bloggers a parenting question and then creates a post with all the advice they provide. Recently she asked us "What did you do to baby proof your house?".
I was quite surprised that so many people responded that they didn't do anything. But what surprised me even more was that I wrote a friggin essay. When I looked at my lengthy response compared to everyone else I was really confused. What is wrong with me that I felt the need to do all that "safety proofing"? Was I being over protective. That not in keeping with the way I usually do things.
I really am not a panicky parent. I rarely take Goblin to the doctors. When he falls over I usually stand back and wait to see if he cries or is bleeding before I intervene. When Goblin was young I never carried anti bac gel and I didn't care if he ate food off the floor - or pebbles for that matter. Now he's older I am the mum at the park not freaking out as my kid scales the 7 foot high ladder or runs full pelt at the duck pond. So with this 'laid back to the point of carelessness' approach to Goblin's personal safety I was surprised that I had an unusually long list of baby proofing tips and tricks compared to others.
Then I realise our approach had been less to do with safety and more to do with independence and enhancing Goblin's freedom.
I think there are two ends to baby proofing spectrum. At one end you have the 'do nothing' approach. This method allows your baby to learn quickly what they can and can't do by exploring their environment and experimenting. But it does require you to be constantly on hand. For example if you don't put locks on your kitchen cabinets your baby has the freedom to explore the pots and pans. But you do need to be there to watch that they don't pull the Le Creuset crock pot down on their leg breaking it in several places (seriously those pots are heavy). You have to either accept that they might need the occasional stomach pumped after downing bleach, or you need to be constantly alert when they go near 'that' cupboard. And you have to be prepared to either put everything back fifty times a day for months until they get bored/learn not to pull stuff out. Or put a lot of energy into redirection and saying no.
The significant benefit of this method is that they learn how to operate in a non-baby proofed environment which means they are 'safer' if you go to other people's houses.
At the other end of the spectrum was our approach, the "Do everything" approach. We put foam around the edges of both the coffee and dinner table (Lorenzo's oil stylee) so he didn't bang himself on the corners; we put foam horseshoes over the tops of every door so he didn't trap his fingers; we put a chain on the front door too high for him to reach so he couldn't escape; we had baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs;we had perspex velcroed to the front of the shelves so he couldn't get to the DVD player and break it; we chained the shelves and wardrobes to the walls; we moved all the poisons to the top shelves and used cabinet locks on the fridge and freezer (we didn't need to on the cupboards because they didn't have handles so he couldn't open them); we bought plastic covers for all the dials on the cooker so he couldn't kill us all in a gassing scenario. You get the picture! Pretty much everything short of making him wear a bicycle helmet indoors.
At first glance this looks like we were trying to wrap Goblin in cotton wool. It looks like we were exceedingly anxious new parents.
What we were actually trying to do was offer him as much freedom as possible. By childproofing the kitchen and living room areas Goblin could wander around the whole house on his own if he wanted. It meant we didn't have to constantly have him in our sights. Of course it did mean that a significant amount of his early weaning meals consisted of cat food, but it also meant we didn't have to stress that if he was in the other room he might be downing the dishwasher rinse agent (which he did do on a visit to Nanny's unbaby-proofed house).
Our brand of 'lazy parenting' meant that once the 'proofing' was in place we could stand back and relax. From an early age Goblin was confident to explore on his own out of our immediate sight and we didn't need to be helicoptering around him.
I suspect that most people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from 'do nothing' to 'do everything'. And I think the approach you take depends very much on
a) your child's personality, mobility and curiosity
b) your stress levels and the time you can dedicate to them (especially if they aren't your only child)
c) what you want your child to learn first.
I don't advocate any way as better. But if you are embarking on the 'baby proofing' element of your child's life its worth giving consideration to what each end of the spectrum offers your child, and yourself and taking it from there.
*****My favourite posts from last week include:
Drop everything and swing at The Educators' Spin on it
Smug Mummy Warning by Mums make lists
Waving at Trees by Life Happens Then Write
I'm Just Not Clever Enough by Raising a Boy
Two into three don;t go by Mummology
And now to the linky