Babyproofing

I have several friends who have recently had their first child, and one of them (hi!!) approached me today via email asking me how to child proof their home. I kinda scoffed, and said something along the lines of “get down to his level, scoot around, and put away everything you see that’s dangerous”. These days, people pay companies to come in and do the childproof stuff. There are refrigerator locks and toilet bowl/seat locks. You can babyproof your house so well that you can’t even open the fridge to get a drink, for goodness’ sake.

Our house wasn’t babyproofed when we were growing up and we turned out ok. The only childproofing I ever did was using those plastic socket things to stop my boys putting their fingers into the electricity. By the time they were 15 months old they had ALL figured out how to pry them off. Of course, older brothers were always there to demonstrate just how to get into trouble and just how not to get caught.

So – is the babyproofing market a racket or is it a smart investment?

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7 Comments

  1. @wifeofmottel says:

    As in most things, the answer lies in moderation. We got tired of the lil’ guy pulling out all our pots and pans and finally locked the cabinets, but we’ve laughed at so-called “investments” like the fridge/stove/toilet locks. Especially the “special” ones cost a pretty penny. And rooms that little ones don’t belong in – keep the door closed or use a baby gate. Baby gear is a huge industry– preying on vulnerable parents who are desperately trying to do the right thing so that their kids come out OK– and so many parents will buy all the new junk that the salesman recommends. There’s no problem with waiting and watching your kid’s development (and continually inventorying your home) and figuring out what you need as you go along…

  2. Nora says:

    Total racket. Put away sharp stuff & stuff that can be easily knocked over. Tie up cords, cover sockets, and lock cabinets with cleaning supplies. Put up some baby gates at various stairwells and you’re good to go. Why you would pay someone to come in & tell you that is beyond me.

  3. Rivki says:

    My oldest also figured out how to remove the covers. I didn’t even bother putting them up with my second.

    Paying someone to come into the house seems a bit much. It should be common sense (there I go assuming people have common sense, of course), and knowing yourself and your child. Some children are more investigative than others. It depends, but it shouldn’t take a company. An internet search could cover it, I’m sure.

  4. G6 says:

    Safety is safety and I’m not talking about that, but unless you are prepared to live that way for the next twenty years (no, I’m not kidding), parents might want to give some thought to teaching children how to live around “things” – even “nice things” and yes, something might break once in a while, but I’d hate to live my whole life trussed up and have my children grow up not knowing how to behave in other people’s (non-baby proofed) homes.
    {Gee, where did that rant come from…?}

  5. Rebecca says:

    I think it makes sense to get on the child’s level and put away things that are dangerous, lock up chemicals, plug outlets, etc. I don’t think hiring a service is needed to accomplish this, but some careful attention to the process cannot hurt. As a PhD candidate in Human Development with a focus on early care and education with experience working on outreach materials for providers and parents of young children, I see that people often view babyproofing as an all or nothing proposition, but that is simply not true. You must decide what how much time you are willing to spend supervising little ones and telling them “no” when they empty out the kitchen cupboards. If you are okay with them playing with your mixing bowls and containers, etc. then you don’t need latches on those cabinets. If it drives you crazy to have little ones reorganizing those cabinets, latches are in order or you will expend a lot of energy redirecting kiddos from those activities. I don’t mind if my toddler daughter empties out the pots and pans from the cupboard, so that cabinet is not latched. Of course, the dishwasher detergent is in a latched cabinet and the knives and glassware is up high out of her reach…for now, since, she’s not pushing chairs up to the counters and climbing. I’ve chosen the amount of “risk” I am willing to live with for now. I still supervise and adjust as she changes and grows. To me, this is common sense childproofing.

    That said, there are major, major dangers of having unsecured furniture that can tip over from toddlers climbing on furniture, and this is essential babyproofing that needs to be done to prevent tragic accidents like this ones described here: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11345.html and here http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2011/03/child-injury-and-death-due-to-furniture-tip-overs-on-the-rise.html. I have HUGE bookshelves of sfarim, textbooks, etc. They are all anchored. I would never take a chance on this. I worry about my friends children (who are climbers!!!) around their tall bookshelves of sfarim… yes, it is an effort to empty the shelves and anchor them, but the risk is just too great not to anchor them.

    Here is a good, common sense resource: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/childproof.html. http://www.Healthychildren.org also has some good resources.

    My 2 cents…

  6. tam_tam says:

    I babysit and the houses that are super baby proofed make it impossible for me to move around. I can’t open any cabinets, the stair gates are often impossible, etc. When I was a baby my parents had the electrical socket plugs you mentioned and in the den near the fire place there is a thing with sharp corners that my parents bought a cover for so if I fell, I got round foam and not sharp corner.

  7. Ima2seven says:

    First of all, you can only really know what is a problem after the fact, and then fix it. And the toddlers will always spend more time figuring out how to get to things than you will figuring out how to prevent it. So automatic fail.

    My exception: I put children’s books on all of the low bookshelves in the house. Including the CD shelves. If they are going to remove everything from the shelves, which they will inevitably do, then let them develop a relationship with those books from day 1!

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