Baby-proofing. It’s every parent’s nightmare. What do I need to baby-proof? What is going to harm my child? What do I do when I go out? These questions can plague a parents sleep deprived mind well into the early hours of the morning. But in all honesty, do we need to baby-proof everything?
There is definitely a lot to be said for not baby-proofing; I personally have not gone out of my way to baby-proof. My main reason is this: when we visit other peoples’ houses, they are not baby-proofed, so I feel that I need my daughters to be prepared for this eventuality as the safeguards will not always be there.
A good example of this is when we visit one of my relatives house. It has always been full to the brim with nic-nacs, ornaments and general tat (it’s like an antique shop without the antiques) and I would perceive this to be a minefield of potential hazards to my children. When we go there, my relative runs around after my daughter continuously shouting “no”. It drives me insane, just move all your rubbish out of her reach if you don’t want her to touch it! But on the other hand, why should she have to? It is probably better for her to run around shouting then have to move everything every time we visit.
Similarly when we finally venture out of the home at the weekend, the places we visit are unlikely to be proofed. You would be hard pushed to find a restaurant that covers all its plug sockets and puts bumpers on the corners of their tables. It’s just not feasible. So how can we ensure our children are safe when we take them out of the confines of our bubble wrapped homes? I always find a proactive approach towards safety is paramount.
Some people may think I am a few sandwiches short of a picnic by not having locks on my cupboard doors and plug covers on my plug sockets (not that there are any of these in my house that aren’t in use), but I believe that it is an important learning tool and one that will ultimately help my children when they do leave the house on outings.
From my experience, it is pure curiosity coupled with prohibition that makes children enter into a situation that can be considered to be dangerous. Bearing that in mind, we took the decision to experiment by clearing out a low level cupboard and filling it with all my Tupperware tubs, mixing bowls (all plastic now) and various paper plates and plastic cups. Emily was thrilled and spent the next hour playing with its contents whilst I cooked dinner. From then on she made a beeline for this cupboard over any other and has never even attempted to go into our forbidden under-the-sink cupboard.
Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to baby-proofing I definitely do my ground work first; I am meticulous at tidying up after myself, making sure all potential hazards like laptop chargers and sharp objects and hazardous chemicals are well out of reach. I can not stress enough the need to tidy away anything that can cause injuries. This is probably the best form of potential baby-proofing that any good parent can undertake … and it is by far the cheapest.
The only other form of absolute baby-proofing that cannot be avoided is the stair gate. There is no way around it. There is only so much curiosity you can fend off without putting a definitive barrier in your child’s way.
But despite all of the above, I am still a firm believer that every child is different and that at the end of the day, mother definitely knows best. However, it is vital that we make sure we do not go over the top when it comes to proofing as our children will not be aware of hazards when they leave the home.
So before you go out and buy as many plug covers as you have plug sockets and spend a fortune of door locks, consider whether its really necessary for your child.