I have five kids, and as you can imagine, my level of anxiety over baby-proofing has definitely changed over time.
When pregnant with my first, I scoured child safety devices and imagined my future home as a soft, cushy bubble in which a baby could bounce around without ever sustaining an owie.
But as I watched my oldest son grow and then added more kids to the family, I learned a few things about babies.
First, all babies are not made alike. Some toddlers will completely ignore electrical outlets and wires, while others are drawn to them with magnetic force. Some babies can’t wait to crawl up bookshelves and will clumsily fall against sharp edges every chance they get, while others cautiously maneuver around corners and wouldn’t dream of leaving the safety of solid ground.
Just like feeding, discipline and sleep, baby-proofing efforts are most effective when tailored to the individual child. And mostly, what I learned is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t protect your baby from every possible bump and bruise.
That said, as relaxed as I’ve become as a mom, there are three baby-safety devices that I think are totally worth the investment:
A stroller with a secure, easy-to-use safety belt. What is it about toddlers trying to eject themselves from the stroller while it’s in motion? I’ve also seen very young babies turn themselves all the way around in their stroller seat and try to stand up – usually because the safety strap was hard to adjust and stayed too loose. A seat belt that’s easy to locate, tighten or loosen, and firmly clasp is one stroller safety feature that’s definitely made walks and trips to the zoo or museum that much more pleasant.
A baby gate that’s easy to use. Perhaps because my earliest memory is of tumbling head over heels down the stairs as a toddler, I’ve always been more than a little paranoid about babies + stairs. Unfortunately, I also have somewhat of a mental and physical block when it comes to operating typical “accordion-style” baby gates. I just can’t make them work and have spent many minutes sweating and cussing under my breath while trying to get them securely in place. ‘
Recently I was visiting a friend with a newly-crawling baby. The friend had a baby gate permanently attached to the doorway that swung open easily with the push of a button. I was mad at myself for not having invested in a better gate when I had babies in the house. Having that baby gate would have saved me so much effort!
A well-fitting, properly installed infant safety seat. Car seats don’t have to be fancy to keep your baby safe. The most important thing is that they’re correctly installed and used right every time.
We have used infant safety seats from the Graco line with all of our kids, and I loved that they live up to rigid safety and quality standards, but are still reasonably priced. That made it a lot easier to budget for swapping out seats every few years! (In case you didn’t know, infant and child safety seats have “expiration” dates.)
Even now that Clara is 3 years old and in a “bigger girl” child safety seat, before we leave the driveway I like to turn around and snuggle her chest harness up a little higher. It gives me a little extra peace of mind before we get on the road.
Are you baby safety savvy? We’re giving away two Graco SnugRide Click Connect infant car seats! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with a personal tip on how you keep baby safe in the car.
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