Mar 26, 2012

Motherhood Mondays - To Child proof or Not

A while back I read an article about whether it is necessary to child proof or not. You can read the article here.

In it, the author details what they did and didn’t do for their son, but it never really delved into the argument of whether to child proof or not. I’ve heard both extremes. One friend, while she was still only pregnant and taking the responsible baby courses, was actually told to bolt her windows down since she lived in a second story apartment. To me this is a bit extreme.

Then there is the argument that when you take the child out of your child-proofed home, into other people’s homes, including grandparents’ homes, that these homes won’t be child-proofed, so why set your child up for behavior failure in other people’s homes by child-proofing your own.

Cameron and I fall somewhere in the middle of these two arguments, although I’d say we align closer to the non-child-proofing side than the extreme child-proofing side. For the most part, our child-proofing has involved the good-old fashioned wooden gates that even adults have a hard time opening, closing and tightening, that you can get at Walmart for $5. We bought two of these gates when Tulley was a puppy, to corral her to specific areas of the house and have kept them in place for London.

We also purchased a wider, plastic gate to put between our carpeted family room and tiled kitchen when London was crawling and learning to walk. At this same time, we had a blanket folded up over the granite tile in the family room and removed such hazards as the iron fireplace tools and bucket full of drift wood. Items we don’t want London getting her hands on as well, first moved up in the room and eventually out of the room for the most part. She then has learned what she can and can’t tough in the family room. Toys = good things to touch. Electronic box buttons and items on the side table between the couch and chair = no touch.

We have employed those famously frustrating plastic electrical outlet covers that are almost as adult-proof as they are child-proof, but only in London’s room and the kitchen and family room. We also purchased and installed an oven lock, not so much to save London from burning herself, but after she scared herself opening the oven door trying to take down one of our kitchen towels> She almost knocked herself out doing this and we felt it was a necessary precaution, in case she tried to do this when the oven was on. Now our hand towels are rarely on the oven handle as London likes to take them off and use them to “tuck” Tulley in for “nite nite” (not that she doesn’t have plenty of access to blankets in the family room for this!) We started going through towels so much it’s just necessary to keep them on top of the counters and wash them more often.

Last, we bought the famous cabinet locks and actually began installing them but never finished. Our cabinets are made of some hard particle wood on the inside that made installing the tiny screws nearly impossible. Yes, I’d feel better if the under the sink cabinet was baby proof, but then again, London really isn’t left unattended downstairs for any period of time – it’s just as easy to take her with us, or she stands at the gate crying to be with us any way. I also just need to address this cabinet and see if I can’t move most of it to the upper cabinets of our laundry room.

And I know we’ve been lucky, as London as learned through trial and error, which cabinets she can get away with opening at all. So now, she really only opens the drawer that holds her bibs, plates and bowls, and the silverware drawer now that she is tall enough to reach in and grab her silverware from it.

For the most part, London isn’t allowed to be anywhere in our house unattended because we know we can’t trust her completely, just like we couldn’t trust Tulley when she was a pup and like we can’t trust Melody now.

Maybe we’ll child-proof more if we’re blessed with a second child, but for now, we only have one to watch after, and the worse she does is close herself in the pantry or bathroom, knowing full well we’ll be in to retrieve her shortly – and this is usually because she wants a little privacy to do her business. If only she’d show some interest in potty training.

London knows that if she closes herself in these two areas it too much she’ll get placed in a time out, though we first try to distract her into doing some other, parent-approved activity.

And maybe we have been blessed with a non-child-proofing necessary child like the author in the article concludes. But at the same time, I think it also has a lot to do with what the parents allow and don’t allow to go on in the household and the boundaries they set for their children. I guess you could say Cameron and I take a child-proof as you go approach. No way do we see the need of child-proofing something before it is an issue. A newborn isn’t going to get into anything right away. We didn’t use the plastic plug covers until London showed interest in an electrical socket. We did have them ready for the day she did, but had we not, we would have left for the store immediately. And maybe we’re lucky with our house set-up that we can use baby gates to prevent access to the rest of the house so that we only have a few rooms to truly baby-proof at this time and keep a close eye on London almost all the time.

The one child-proofing item I could not live without are the chimes on our doors and windows when they are opened. We recently turned them off when we were going in and out of the garage in the middle of the night to deal with the puppies while my parents were visiting, mainly because it was interrupting their sleep. But these chimes have been turned back on now that London has learned to open some of our doors, including the front door. She doesn’t usually have access to the front door unless we are already headed out the door, but its peace of mind for Cameron and me. And she still can’t reach the sliding glass door handle or lock, but we know some day she will.

Our friends Pat & Kim have an alarm that actually tells you which door is being opened in their house and is one we would consider if London gets into a habit of exiting the house (which I hope never becomes the case).

So what child proofing do you feel is absolutely necessary and which kind do you think merely play into the fears of parents to make a little extra money for the child-proofing companies?


1 comment:

  1. Child proofing does become harder with child number 2 since big brother (or sister) have a little hand in helping out. Just the other day both boys were playing in the bedroom when we realized it had gotten too quiet and you know where they were? In the car, in the garage! That never would've happened with only 1 around. We have a latch at the top of our front door and locks on the under the sink cupboards. We had a baby gate between the kitchen and living room for a while, but then he learned how to open the bathroom doors and could go through that way. I like the latch on the front door for Joshua's safety as well. He likes to run to the door when the doorbell rings and I don't want him opening it for strangers.