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Baby proofing or not?

When you’re a parent in this day and age, you often have safety information coming at you from left, right and centre, especially once your child is mobile whether that be crawling or walking.

Health visitors tend to pass on leaflets about baby proofing your house – basically recommending you bubble wrap your home to ensure your child doesn’t get hurt.  What’s the betting the child would still find a way to fall off a bed, lap or chair, or tumble down some steps anyway.

We (well, I as I tend to be the one to organise everything that we need for N) opted for the easy parenting version of baby proofing.  That is, minimum effort – ie stairgate at top and bottom of stairs, lock on the bleach cupboard in the kitchen, fireguard round the wood burner.  The obvious and most dangerous places in the house.  My theory was that at 8 or 9 months when N was just getting mobile, I would be with him the majority of the time anyway, plus he would have to learn for himself that there were rules he would have to follow when I said no.

Generally though, I was pretty happy just to let him explore.  I mean, apart from removing everything from the drawers with the wii games and dvds in, plugging in plugs/turning on switches, removing crockery from kitchen cupboards and playing with bottles in the larder, what danger was there?

Luckily he’s always found enough to entertain himself in the areas that he has got access to.  He loves ‘his’ cupboard with his plates, mixing bowl, snacks in; the pan cupboard with whisks and a plastic drinks jug in the kitchen.  Upstairs the bedside cabinets are a treasure trove of pretty coloured nail polishes that he can pull out and line up on the top, while there’s interesting leaflets, coins and old sunglasses in the other cabinet to play with.

Those danger areas that you might worry about haven’t really come about with N:

  • He’s never tried to eat coins, water beads or put buttons up his nose (like I did when I was young, ending up in hospital to have them removed).  So I’m quite happy for him playing with small pieces or items.
  • He’s only ever been interested in putting the correct type of plug or computer/phone cable in the right socket – so no worrying forks or the like being forced into sockets
  • He’s never tried to open any of the bottles (usually drink or shampoo) on the floor in the larder.

He has however managed to:

  •  Open the top stair gate (by forcing it) and the bottom gate after leaning on it too many times as it’s loosened so much – and fallen down the top few stairs on about 3 or 4 occasions.  Too much exploring or looking the wrong way and losing concentration and stepping back .  He’s never been hurt although we are lucky there’s only 6 stairs to fall down as they go round rather than in one long run
  • Break the top stair gate.  We’re not sure how, but the swing bit has sheared right off the socket part.  So we now have no stair gates on and have no accidents, although he’s been proficient at climbing and going downstairs for a long time now.
  • Get his fingers caught in 2 door hinges and as a lift door shut – luckily the latter had just enough room between the 2 doors for his size fingers so no damage.  Apart from a big shock and what I expect was a lot of pain, we’ve had no damage yet, so I’m hoping he’s learnt enough from that to keep his fingers away from things along with me remembering to check his fingers are out the way before doors move.

The lock on the cleaning cupboard seems to be broken now as well, so I’m keeping an eye on him for that.  He’s never shown much of an interest in the cupboard to date, although I did catch him the other day trying to open the door.  He’s never tried opening bottles in the larder, so I’m hoping he’ll not try it if he manages to get into the cupboard.

I do worry a bit about the oven.  He enjoys helping me prepare food and get pans out of the cupboards, and just recently he’s started opening up the oven when it’s off.  The other day he’d made play doh ‘food’ on a plate, and was putting that in the oven to ‘cook’.  He just wants to role play, so I need to remember to tell him when the oven’s on and he’s not to touch.  We don’t use it that often as the Aga’s always on and he’s never got too close to that as he knows that’s hot.  Hopefully he’ll continue to listen to what I say – so far so good when it comes to safety situations

So I’m not sure that going mad on baby-proofing is always necessary.  Let’s face it, they’re going to visit other people’s houses that aren’t baby proofed, so it’s better to set guidelines of what they can and can’t explore up front, and hope that they’ll learn that way.

What did you do in terms of baby proofing? Go the whole hog, or piecemeal?

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