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To Hell with Babyproofing

By Erin Blakeley |

Our apartment is a baby booby trap. Between our ladder bookshelves, our tangled yards of electronic wiring and our anti-feng shui decorating style, we are tripping over all the hazards the baby experts warn about.

But instead of crawling through our apartment and barricading, battening-down or turning our living space into a giant bubble, we’ve came up with a novel solution. We’ve decided . . . not to.

Ten months ago, the notion that we would blow off babyproofing seemed highly unlikely. We were those parents, the ones who practically hosed down visitors with anti-bacterial hand solution – and then refused to let them hold the baby. We installed tethers on the changing table, just in case our son – the one with no neck control – catapulted away from us, mid-diaper change. And when I took him for his first few walks, I actually slid the stroller wrist strap over my hand and tightened it around my forearm, in case a crazed baby snatcher tried to wrestle the stroller away from me on the mean streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

But as time passed, and our son failed to spontaneously combust, we became more confident in our own skills and judgment. The complicated rituals that we relied upon to keep him safe no longer seemed necessary. In fact, they seemed preposterous.

So when the topic of babyproofing our home came up in my mother’s group, I hadn’t given it much thought. My son was old enough that we measured his age in months rather than weeks, but not old enough that he was able to move with any sort of intention. I figured we had plenty of time. Not true, the moderator of the group insisted. In hushed tones, she proceeded to spell out the hazards lurking in our homes, and the tragedies that could befall our children if we didn’t act: They could be crushed by unsecured furniture! Choke on loose change! Gouge themselves on sharp furniture corners!

Now, I have fears about my son. I worry that he’ll be bullied in school, or worse, be a bully himself. I worry that he’ll have half a million dollars in student debt. I worry he’ll try coke with some kid named Travis in the parking lot of a Dave Matthews Band reunion concert.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to worry about him impaling himself on the coffee table.

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About Erin Blakeley

erin-blakeley

Erin Blakeley

Erin Blakeley is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the Star Ledger, NYC24, and Tiempo, among other publications. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.

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56 thoughts on “To Hell with Babyproofing

  1. mkemoxy says:

    I love it! We are at the same point — my son just started crawling on Saturday and now I realize that yeah, we probably should babyproof. But really, I’m just not going to go hog-wild. Sure, I’ll move the toilet bowl cleaner from behind the toilet to under the sink (where we will put latches on the door because I’m too lazy to find a better spot for our cleaning supplies) but really, beyond that our child is going to have to learn the meaning of “No” and that some of the stuff in this world isn’t for him or NFB (Not For Babies). And like your son’s interest in all your stuff, all our kid wants to play with is our dog’s toys. And by play I mean teethe with. And on his first crawling jag, he promptly pulled himself across the kitchen floor to the area by his high chair and ate the three-day-old puffs lying on the dirty floor. Oh well. (And now I fondly recall freaking when someone wanted to hold him prior to washing their hands 10 months ago).

  2. Dwtintx says:

    We have outlet covers- the kind that plug in- on most of the outlets, and we have two cabinets that have the latches on them that slide over the cabinet knobs, but nothing permanent. Oh, and we have that same kind of locks on the kitchen cabinets with the cookware, but that’s for my sanity rather than her safety. We also have a cover for the bathroom tub faucet, only because my daughter was a wild child in the bath once we moved her to the big tub, and always seemed in serious danger of bonking herself really hard. She’s outgrown that by now, though. She’s 18 months, and our half-assed babyproofing seems to have been enough. Mostly we keep an eye on her whenever she’s going near something potentially dangerous.I love this article, because I always got really freaked out by the babyproofing supplies in the store, but I also had the conviction that it mostly wasn’t necessary. I took a wait and see approach, which basically led to the faucet cover and that’s about it. It’s worked for us- she’s still alive!

  3. hogheadv2 says:

    This photo is in Grand ma’s house. I know, I’m the dad. That cute girl will start college in the fall, and asks me to this day how I raised such a good kid. “I let you learn by making your own decisions, let you fall over a few times” She comes back with “No, I’m just that good.”Tom

  4. Dan says:

    Bio probably needs an update, Erin : “She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two-week-old son. ” :)

  5. severett says:

    Love it. We have a year-old walker who gets into EVERYTHING and I think it’s fantastic. Isn’t the point of childhood to explore and learn about the world? I have several pictures of her wearing colanders as hats (on her own initiative), pulling our books off of the shelves, and pulling clothes out of dresser drawers. We have outlet covers and outside-the-cabinet locks on the two cabinets where we store cleaning chemicals, and a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs. We watch her when she’s near our bookshelves which are (gasp!) not tethered to the wall. I REFUSE to drill holes in my kitchen cabinets, or put locks on my toilets, or pad my coffee table. More important, I cannot fathom paying someone to tell me how very dangerous everything is and to destroy my house for me! Give me a break!

  6. karrie says:

    What is even more fun is when you do baby-proof, and your toddler manages to thwart every last device. :-) One that sticks in mind, aside from vaulting over/plowing through baby gates, is buying this large, plastic doorknob cover when my son was younger. A-ha! Now he will be safe and not roaming the house at all hours. He looked at me, pinched the knob, yelled “ball!” and threw it at my head. Severett pretty much sums up my thoughts.

  7. froggemom says:

    Our son is 19 months and into everything he can reach. We have latched under the sinks where the toxins reside and that’s about it. We had some gates closing off the kitchen when he was first crawling/walking, but now he has free reign. We don’t have gates on our stairs, except for atop the basement because the cats need access to their litter box so the door needs to remain open. Oh and we do have outlet covers on every one, because he loves the things.The reason there are so many baby proofing products is because people will buy anything they are told they need, or are scared into believing they need. We live in a fear-based culture. Parents are easy targets, because we are so vulnerable when it comes to our children’s safety and health. Like many people have said before me, how did we ever survive our childhoods?!?!

  8. Chiara says:

    Yeah, I’m another one of those “let her explore her world” and “let her ingest a healthy amount of dirt” kind of moms, too and started with minimal latches on the dangerous stuff. Honestly, we added more as she got older (15 months now) and more adept at dismantling and spreading out the contents of EVERYTHING she could get her hands on – mainly because I got sick of cleaning up the same series of messes every single day and rewashing things that had to be used later. It serves the purpose of directing her toward more convenient messes.I also used to scoff at toilet latches, since although it seems reasonable, who ever actually heard of a baby drowning in a toilet, right? And then I found my cell phone in the bottom of said toilet and couple hundred bucks later the latch seemed like it would have been a good investment. :)

  9. rikkicarey says:

    Baby proofing has become just one more way for someone to make money… especially when you consider just how useless and crappy and expensive most of the baby proofing products are. I have 1 gate at the top of the basement stairs (no door and I need it open to let the heat from the wood stove get to the upstairs) 1 kitchen cabinet with a latch on it… to keep himself out of all of the cleaning products and the compost bucket…. compost bucket = baby crack apparently. :) AND that is it. I am considering tethering my husbands oversized widescreen tv because that thing is freeky heavy and not particularly “steady” It’s not a problem now (beasty is 13 months) but I could see it being an issue in a year or so…. we’ll see….

  10. tori says:

    Yay! Let’s hear it for letting your kid explore and paying attention to what he or she is getting into. I agree that a certain amount of proofing is necessary (I’m a freak about the outlet covers and the cleaning products) but you would really go nuts if you tried to foresee every possible danger. AND you would never, EVER be able to visit any other home with your child — have you ever walked through Grandma’s house on your knees? Woo-hoo is there a lot of stuff to put in your mouth, smash your face into, or pull on top of your fragile little melon! That said, we did try to do a bit of babyproofing in our first home; my favorite was the little swimming pool noodle that we cut to fit around the edges of the coffee table. It quickly became my son’s favorite toy. He would pull those noodles off the edges, chew on them, bop the cat with them, bang them against the wall. So if he wasn’t any safer, at least he was entertained. Just like the wedding industry sees us brides-to-be coming, so too does the baby industry feed on our every insecurity, fear, and anxiety. Don’t believe the hype, mama.

  11. dhsredhead says:

    Were the same way. The only baby proofing gear we owned were baby gates, which we somehow lost in our 4 bedroom house. So we started chasing our daughter up the stairs. We have had a few parent freak-outs. My boyfriend was extremely upset when my daughter pulled every book off our book shelf, but she never ripped a single page. I flipped out when she insisted on walking while holding on to the never ever cleaned dairy case at the grocery store, but was relieved when she didn’t get any diseases. The funny thing is that in every other way we are concerned parents. We’re keeping my daughter away from meat, we sit have our car seat reversed even though she is past 1 year of age, we are no longer vaccinating, we feed her mostly organic food, use cloth diapers etc etc.

  12. sfwork says:

    I loved your piece… but I only half agree with you. I don’t think you should put plastic padding around your coffee table, or those weird door knob doo-dads, but I do think it’s worth strapping down the bookcases in your house and making sure there are locks on your windows and cabinets (where toxic stuff resides, not for where the dishes go). We did minimal baby proofing with the first kid because we didn’t know any better and also because he just wasn’t a “dangerous” kid. Our second child (a girl, no less) was incredibly curious and we found her climbing on a bookcase before she could even walk! Luckily the bookcases were already bolted to the wall because we live in California (earthquakes), but it did make me think that as parents we need to be one step ahead of our children’s development. They might not be interested in what’s under the sink today, but they might be tomorrow. I don’t think it’s over-parenting to keep your kid from being poisoned.

  13. MudMom says:

    Everytime I hear about the death of a child through an accident, my heart breaks for the parents. I cannot imagine the grief and despair that accompanies losing a child. However, I can imagine that losing a child through an accident that was completely preventable must be doubly tragic. Equating putting up window guards with strapping yourself to your child’s stroller is not a fair or accurate comparison. By not making your household totally secure, however, you ARE chaining yourself to your child; are you absolutely sure that a caregiver is going to take the same precautions and mainatin the same level of supervision that you so confidently do? Every hear of a little tune called “Tears in Heaven?”Babyproofing your house gives you FREEDOM as a parent, and sets your child up for success. There will be PLENTY of opportunities in the real worl for him/her to practice exploration and gain confidence. My aunt felt very similarly to the way you feel in this piece. My cousin drank a household chemical at age two and has been disabled ever since. My aunt has no greater regret than the fact that she had an opportunity to make her house safer for her child and did not do so: she lives with that every day.

  14. AmyE says:

    We have knobs on the doors to the outside, so my son cannot escape when we aren’t watching him, like when he’s with his sisters in the living room and I’m working in my office. I have a gate in my office to protect the computers from him. My husband left his bike dismantled in our dining room the other night with two different bottles of spray something or other and a toolbox laid wide open on the floor. I couldn’t wait to see which item Henry would go after first in the morning. Right now, the entire contents of the toolbox are spread out in the dining room and Henry’s little hands are covered with chain grease. I did move the spray bottles out of the way, but I really enjoyed how much fun he had with the tools. Hopefully, the bike is still usable. In any case, I loved your article. AmyMom to 3www.sofiabean.com

  15. safetydad says:

    As a child- proofer of 12 years and a founding member of the International association for child safety, I can appreciate your position but heartedly disagree. The real facts are that thousands of children are killed and/or injured every year in household accidents that were easily prevented. That is a fact, plain and simple. Furniture can tip on a child and kill them. Children can choke on objects pulled from a drawer. Toxins and sharp objects can be found in over half of your kitchen/bathroom cabinets/Drawers. Exposed outlets are a conduit to electrocution. I am not sure what point you are all trying to make but it seems a bit like, HA!!!, we can show you. Do you really want to become a statistic when your 5-year-old child decides to climb the unsecured bookcase that can easily fall and kill him/her? Will you be so bold when an unattended child tumbles down a flight of stairs? It seems to me that you should join the real world and acknowledge that you have children and children are unpredictable. Freedom for a child is a wonderful thing. Accidents that can kill your child IS a reality. Don’t be foolish just because you think that locking up a few cabinets, changing a few outlet plates or bolting some furniture will upset your granola eating, NPR listening group of friends. We are not asking you to trade in the VW bug you still drive for a yuppy BMW. We are asking you to be prudent and safe.The choice is yours but the statistics don’t lie. Children die everyday in preventable household accidents. There is a reason that there is an entire wall dedicated to safety at just about every baby store in existence

  16. pelirojita says:

    I was more concerned about poisoning then anything else. We moved all cleaning supplies up out of reach in the laundry room, but since then have converted almost all of our cleaning products to simple combinations of water, vinegar and baking soda. We did use outlet covers as my son likes to try to stick things in to the outlet. We have a separate, small fridge just for my husband’s always changing collection of beers. The latch on the beer fridge served its purpose for about 3 weeks. Then it caught my son’s attention long enough that he kept playing with it until he figured it out. Now he unlatches the fridge, takes out a beer, plays with the glass bottle by rolling it around on the tile floor, then puts it back in the fridge when he’s done and relatches the “baby proof” latch. He’s been doing this since about 20 months of age. My husband now employs my son as his beer runner since he is so good at getting in to the fridge. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.A great diversion is to give your kid his/her own cabinet to play with. We did this and stocked it with metal pot lids and wooden spoons. He loved it and it served as his main destination in the kitchen for a full year and he left the other cabinets alone (even though they were unlatched). Of course we kept finding new kitchen gadget items we could stock “his” cabinet with – colorful silicone spatulas, tupperware items that had lost their lids etc.Now our house has only one level. All bets were off when we visited grandma’s house and had to deal with incredibly steep basement stairs which of course were only hidden by a door which doesn’t latch.

  17. chyna823 says:

    I agree that some people go ridiculously overboard with the babyproofing, but sometimes a certain amount of babyproofing is necessary, depending on your kid and your house. The way my house is laid out, the only way I can keep an eye on my kids is to be in the same room with them every minute–that’s just not possible, nor is it healthy. That’s why we have a safety gate on the stairs, so our clumsy yet ambitious 2-year-old doesn’t play on them unsupervised. And we have latches on some of our cabinets, such as the one with the cleaning supplies and the one with all of the Tupperware (which we didn’t latch at first, but did after we tired of washing all the containers after they were spread all over the floor every day).The trick is that you need to know your kid, know yourself, and don’t get sucked into the fear tactics.

  18. bookmama says:

    Take it easy, safety dad. I don’t think anyone is saying they’re going to let their kids experiment with bleach. I think the answer lies somewhere in between covering your floor with cork lest Junior slip and letting your kid rummage through the cabinets with toilet cleaner in them. We have outlet covers, gates for the stairs (we have four flights of stairs!), and latches on cabinet doors that hold breakable or dangerous items. But did we get the toilet seat lock or the foam corners for our shelves? No. We just close the door to the bathroom and watch her near the bookcase. From another angle, sometimes the safest route is to teach them hands off something. When my daughter started crawling several months ago, a number of well meaning friends and relatives said something along the lines of, well you’re going to have to move the items on our bookcases up another set of shelves! But we didn’t. You know why? Because kids can learn what “no” means at any early age. Hence, our printer remains on a low shelf close to the floor, and our daughter leaves it alone, because she learned months ago that touching it would elict a firm “no” and a redirection of play. To me, that’s a much more valuable lesson than her learning that anything within her reach is a free for all, and frankly, it’s a much safer lesson, too. We even can go to a house that isn’t babyproofed and she can still be safe, because she’s learned that not everything is for her.

  19. toolazytologin says:

    I think there’s a compromise to be had on babyproofing. There’s nothing wrong with protecting your child from honest dangers and to be flippant or proud of not babyproofing doesn’t seem like a responsible message. There seems to be an underlying “I’m such a better, cooler and more laid back parent” vibe to this article. We did the standard cabinet locks, minus the Tupperware drawers. Like the previous poster said, you need to know your child. My child has to touch every single little teeny tiny thing and climbs on everything. She’s quite the bruiser and all the coaxing in the world won’t stop her from ripping pages from my treasured books. That required incremental babyproofing as she grew. We’ve had plenty eggs on the noggin due to headers on the floor, table, couch, etc. I’m a pretty laid back mama and really don’t see the need for boasting about not taking standard precautions.

  20. Suzie123 says:

    As with almost everything else in life, I think the key is moderation. Obviously there are items in every house that could be immediate death traps for a kid … your steep stairs, your cabinet with cleaning products, your exposed outlets. I think all but the most negligent of parents would do everything in their power to keep their children away from those death traps. On the other hand, when you look at baby stores/websites/catalogs, there is an overwhelming amount of unnecessary babyproofing stuff that would be incredibly expensive, time-consuming, and destructive to set up. You probably don’t need a latch on every single one of your kitchen cabinets, because if your kid gets into the one with mixing bowls, he will not die. I think it also depends on how much you are watching your kid. I don’t mean this in a holier-than-thou “I don’t need safety products because I don’t neglect my kid like you do” way. I just mean, there are some situations where you’re able to better supervise your child than others. So, if you’re sitting there watching your kid like a hawk, you are able to redirect her if she heads toward something dangerous,and you don’t need all the babyproofing products. On the other hand, if you’re cooking, folding laundry, or doing one of those other tasks that has to get done, you might want to have your kid in a more baby-proofed setting. Again, not trying to sound judgmental, because we all have times where we aren’t watching our kids every second.

  21. pelirojita says:

    Umm….SafetyDad… I reread everybody’s posts to see where you got your ammunition from. Everyone has done something that fit the needs of themselves, their child and their living environment and therefore not deserving of your censure. We just don’t need to go overboard. What most people didn’t tell you was that they had already put away the glass pedestal table when they found out they were pregnant (or brought home a rescue dog from the shelter), they live on one level and don’t have stairs, their coffee table is lightweight with rounded corners, they don’t have tall bookshelves just low ones, and the heavy TV is already bracketed to the wall (or they are going to address the issue soon now that they are focused on it) and that they’re paying attention to their kids behaviors and doing their best to stay ahead of the game, while listening to and learning from the experiences others have mentioned.This thread was remarkably free of parental one-upmanship, so the granola/BMW comments were misplaced. Many concerned parents had already pointed out potential oversights and given accounts of when things have gone wrong. The point was to get off the fear bandwagon and deal with the real issues at hand which are open to interpretation. And almost anything you can buy in a big box baby store is poorly made of crappy materials and doesn’t last very long (such as safety first baby products).

  22. Twin mom says:

    This article is a little disingenous: it starts by saying she’s not going to babyproof, but ends but admitting that yeah, they did babyproof some of the stuff. I think that’s where most people SHOULD end up. Babyproofing every tiny little thing in your house is kind of ridiculous, but not babyproofing the basic stuff (latches on the cabinets with dangerous contents, securing heavy furniture to the wall, securing electrical sockets) is irresponsible and may end in tragedy or at least lots of tears, blood and a trip to the emergency room. We have twins, and we have a “secure” area in our living room and kitchen so that I will not go nuts (and make them nuts!!) by following them every instant of their day and telling them “no” about every single thing. The rest of the house is still unsecured, but they can’t reach it yet. Things do happen. My SIL’s best friend has a toddler who managed to pull their LARGE television off its stand. Luckily the TV catapulted right over his head and missed him. One smashed TV, one lucky family who did not have a smashed toddler. Will you be that lucky too? Hope so.

  23. realmom says:

    I did the minimal stuff. Electricity covers(because as a young adult saw a movie where the baby stuck a fork in the socket and died!) and a gate.But..at 2yrs of age, my boy did pull open his bottom drawer to his bureau and stood in it.Horrors it fell on top of him and it’s a big piece of furniture. Only his ear was hurt miraculously.But to this day the ear is noticibly bigger.Attaching large furniture to the wall seems like a tough task to me…and i did fear that could happen. I saw my baby brother pull down a bookshelf as a toddler….but did i do anything about it? no :/

  24. k1 says:

    sigh. i try to take these babble things with a grain of salt because their strategy is basically to take any commonly debated child-rearing issue and stake an EXTREME position. this is how they get traffic and how they foster debate. – i get high while i’m with my kids and i do/don’t feel guilty- i scream at my kids and i do/don’t feel guilty- i don’t breast-feed and i do/don’t feel guilty- i prefer dogs to babies and i do/don’t feel guiltytalk amongst yourselves.this is a classic case. “I WON’t babyproof. At all.”.So what? Personally, I take a middle-ground. – We’ve latched the one cabinet in the kitchen that has all the household chemicals. – We’ve secured the dresser in our toddler’s bedroom. He already pulled it down once before we did so.Also – the older kids get, the more capable they are of getting into real trouble. My son can now pull chairs over to the counter to get at upper cabinets. But a middle-ground approach won’t foster controversy. So, sure, let’s make an absurd and patently sensationalist implication that baby-proofing is somehow wrong and it’s better to just “let them explore”.I don’t know why I get sucked into these ridiculous articles. But I do. You win again, Babble!

  25. k1 says:

    Twin mom -This is Babble’s strategy. Lead with an absurdly inflammatory headline to suck us in. Often the article is as inflammatory as the headline. Sometimes, like in this case, not. But it does garner page views for the advertisers of over-priced, organic toddler clothing, designer baby furniture and $30 organic play-dough. :)

  26. josie 2180 says:

    I believe in teaching my child the hazards around her rather than babyproof everything…I think baby proofing is lazy parenting. Babies are more intelligent than we give them credit for. I want my daughter to be smart and aware, not living in a “Foam Box”. She is 20 months now and is totally aware of what is dangerous and what she should stay away from. When she passes an unprotected outlet she waves her finger at it and say’s “NO,NO,NO!” or when we pass the stairs in our apartment building she also gestures her fat finger toward it amd makes sure I know that it’s a danger zone by saying “NO,NO,NO!” It makes me proud!

  27. frizz says:

    I have my cleaning supplies and medicines in latched cabinets that my 5 and 3 year olds can’t get into, and when they were little I had plastic covers on the sockets and a gate for the stairs. The two cabinet latches and plastic covers are like five bucks. The gate was expensive, but it was hardware mounted to the top of my steep hardwood stairs. Maybe some people are getting rich off of selling babyproofing products, but I don’t think mothers who babyproof are necessarily paranoid or lemming-like scared. I think a moderate amount of caution is perfectly reasonable, especially for parents with extra-curious kids.

  28. k1 says:

    josie 2180wow – we’re all so happy that you have the perfect child. I guess us “lazy parents” will just have to live with the guilt of taking some resonable precautions. i guess my son will turn out “dumb and unaware” because we’ve installed a latch on the cleaning supplies or put a gate up at the stairs. as a matter of fact, i was now thinking of just putting him in a cage for his own safety. :) people get so self-satisfied about their kids sometimes.

  29. Dwtintx says:

    I should clarify, lest anyone read any “I’m better than you because I’m so relaxed about babyproofing!” into my post way up near the top, that I’m not advocating NO babyproofing. We’ve just done what works for us so far, and if the need arises for more, we’ll do more. I think the thing I like about this piece is the voicing that it’s okay to relax a little. Babyproofing is an area where it feels like the “norm” is to do as much as possible, but that means foam on the edges of the coffee tables, toilet latches (my daughter has so far been pretty incurious about the toilet), more permanent latches on ALL the cabinets, soft foam flooring…I could go on.Yes, safetydad, we should try to guard against preventable accidents, but we can drive ourselves mad worrying about whether something is “preventable.” I think this article advocates for common sense, and that speaks to me (as it clearly does to many others). And k1, you crack me up with your comment at 3:25. Clearly Babble has won again over me too!

  30. mcglory13 says:

    So for the parents with the kids who are teaching them “no” instead of babyproofing… how are you doing that exactly? Cause my 14 month old doesn’t give a damn when I say no, particularly when he’s really interested in something. How is this working for you?

  31. leebs says:

    josie 2180, i hate to tell you this, but your child is 20 months old. It’s great that she yells NO NO NO at the outlets, but good luck with that when she’s 3. A reasonable amount of babyproofing isn’t lazy parenting, it’s sensible. It’s also not putting your kid in a foam box to take normal precautionary steps – I think locking up the dangerous chemicals makes you a good parent, not a lzy one.

  32. MudMom says:

    For what it’s worth Safety dad-i thought your post rocked. It was a calm, clear, rational voice that I could hear above the sound granola makes as you chew it. You rock.

  33. mamazee says:

    i don’t think the author really is saying no to babyproofing, just the kind that is all bought in plastic boxes… not owning bleach? that’s pretty extreme :) it also greatly depends on your child. With our first, we baby proofed like crazy – he still took his door off the hinges at 3… we didn’t do much babyproofing for our next three (pretty mellow) children – but with baby #5, she was just a crazy woman who needed constant supervision, and while the children all kept an eye on her along with me, we needed more drastic measures. Her little brother (#6) is another mellow little soul, who just needs an occasional redirection… and we’ll see what baby #7 is like in a couple weeks :) … but my point is, parents probably have a pretty good idea after their first or second how much *they* need to do to keep their children safe.. and we’re all babyproofing to some extent, even if it’s just putting the good china away for a few years…

  34. Mommy Tee says:

    I agree with mamazee that you generally baby proof to the child. If I could have doors that only opened with a finger print scan from a parent, I would. My 16 month old can open all the doors and has NO fear in running outside. Only constant vigilance and the fact she can’t reach the locks (yet) keeps her inside.It’s a good idea to keep kids out of cabinets where there are hazardous materials. And electrical outlet plugs can’t hurt. We did put some foam on furniture because it was Mission style and was wood with very sharp edges and our kid was an early (nine months) walker and not too coordinated at first. When she stopped bruising her temples on things, we took off the foam.I’m far more relaxed about her “eating dirt” (she was eating rocks at the playground yesterday and I had to keep fishing them out of her mouth) than about letting her climb bookcases or rummage around through certain cabinets. I can’t watch her 24/7; that’s impossible and such hyper-vigilance is as counter-product as over-baby-proofing and is just another form of “over parenting” in its own way. Will she find a way to hurt herself that my husband and I haven’t considered? Most definitely. Are we doing as much as we can? Maybe not, but we’re doing our best.

  35. webapparchitect says:

    Great article! We’re with you. We’ve spent very little money on baby proofing items. As an extension of us she minds us. We say no or we ask her to play with her toys, redirection instead of plundering in the cabinets in the kitchen. Common sense seems to replace knee jerk worrying.

  36. broylesa says:

    Re: Babble in the child-rearing debate. I really loved this site when I first found it (it fits our relaxed, child-led, back-off parenting style). But I’m about to stop coming here altogether. I think they just scroll through Mothering, Parenting, and all the other parents rags, pull a story and write the exact opposite. I thought it was clever at first to reveal the absurdities of modern parenting, but this article is a perfect example of rejecting overparenting too far. Pretty soon we’ll read “Why I don’t read to my kid” and “Why I let my toddler drive me home from my drunken adult kickball league”. Once again, parenting media goes to the extreme to reject what everybody else is saying, and us parents are left as the voices who represent the middle. The compromise-filled, ever-changing, imperfect, find-your-own style of parenting that Babble founders once sought to connect with. One day, we’ll get a media outlet that doesn’t resort to silly extremes and judgmental attitudes of parents who choose to do it different ways. Isn’t that what those other parenting magazines are supposed to do?addieincreasingly disappointed babble reader who half-babyproofed to save her sanity and her baby from eating the trash and the dog food

  37. decafplease says:

    Great column.I agree with many of the posters who call for reasonable baby-proofing and reasonable “letting them explore.” I am a nurse and have worked in trauma. I’ve seen more adults screwed up by accidents than kids. I’ve seen parents go berzerk trying to baby-proof EVERYTHING. How often I wonder if those parents are the same ones driving like maniacs in heavy traffic, speeding down residential streets, or yammering away on a cell phone while at the wheel. Baby-proofing is now its own industry- and it’s making billions off of people who just stop thinking for themselves and give into fear. I just wish parents would begin to thing more rationally, stop spending money they don’t need to and just chill out. A little. Be reasonable- put covers on the outlets if you need to, doorknob thingies on if you need to, etc, etc. And for the parent who said their child doesn’t listen when he/she says no, I just wonder whose fault that is?

  38. mcglory13 says:

    Ah, so its my fault my 14 month old doesn’t respond to us saying no. Glad we’ve cleared that up. I thought he was testing his limits and because he’s 14 months old, but hey, it’s because I suck as a parent. Ok, so what am I doing wrong? Should I be hitting him when I do it? Locking him in a closet?

  39. BBBGMOM says:

    Crack me up! You go, mcglory, K1, and broylesa and a few others up the page. I agree that the “hipper than thou” attitude is just laughable sometimes. And, SafetyDad did NOT conjure up all his epithets out of thin air… The author pointedly makes reference to NPR. Ooohh you are so intellectual – of course you listen to NPR! (Sorry – that’s a pretty damn conventional station – don’t get too excited about how hip or smart you are just for listening to public radio.) Anyway, it’s silly to eschew all babyproofing – that’s just stupid. Clearly most people fall within the reasonable realm of proofing when/where necessary. I don’t know many people who go hogwild in their efforts. We put a gate at the top of our stairs. Why? Because anyone (small or large) who trips and falls in the night has fifteen steep steps ending in ceramic tile. If you want to take that chance, go for it! Outlet covers – yes. Chemicals and meds (especially meds – they are “attractive” to little eyes) on top shelves? Yes. Door knob thingies? No need. Foam corners? No need. See? It’s careless to go to either extreme. Though I would be fascinated to read an article on an o.c.d. babyproofer – that would be interesting!!

  40. chattydaddy says:

    Nice piece. We did very little babyproofing in our last apartment — just some outlet covers — but our son was also watched quite literally 100% of the time. Either we were with him or our full time babysitter was. I am not saying we were never reading a magazine or watching tv while he crawled about, but he was never in the kitchen going through the cabinets while we sat in the living room.If one is concerned about safety, babyproofing strikes me as either the second best option (the first being watching your kid all the time) or redundant (if you do actually watch your kid all the time).I think the main thrust of this piece is probably self-evident to parents who have been at it for a while, but not obvious to newer parents: you don’t have to buy every product on the shelves for children your age. Just because they have several brands of heated diaper wipes does not mean your child will be traumatized by the bracing shock of a cold diaper wipe. Heck, he might even find it refreshing.

  41. tiffer says:

    I have to agree with a lot of feedback on this article that Babble is just too concerned with being unconventional.. and in really annoying ways. The author of this piece admits toward the end that they have done SOME babyproofing, but has to draw us all in with the shocking title of the article.I have to say, I get from the article that the child she has isn’t that old yet. My 19 month old is getting into newer things every day. Some of those things we try to teach him to stay out of and some of them just become off limits, not only for safety but also our sanity. Those of you that are so “proud” of their children to listening to every “no” that comes out of your mouth… good for you.. give yourself a pat on the back. But understand that not every child is like yours, and their parents aren’t lazy because of it.

  42. tcumom says:

    I think that the amount of babyproofing you need to do depends on the personality of your child. My 1 year old son is very mobile, aggressive, and curious and has a knack for gravitating towards anything and everything that will get him into trouble. If he knows he’s not allowed near something he looks to see if we’re watching and if he thinks we aren’t he sneakily starts going towards it. Of course he loves to put everything in his mouth. Since we don’t want to have to constantly follow him around shouting “no” (not that it works)and pulling him away from stuff we’ve ended up babyproofing more than we planned. For example, we didn’t plan on putting a gate around the hearth but after seeing him climb onto the hearth and try to head into the fireplace where there’s a permanent metal grate affixed one too many times we sprung for the fireproof hearth gate. A lot of people think that safety proofing cages your child in but in our case we are able to give our son much more freedom now that we know he’s much less likely to get seriously injured during his household explorations. I don’t mind if he pulls our books off the shelves of our bookcases since we can always replace a torn book (we put the irreplacable ones out of his reach) but we can’t replace our son if something happens to him because we didn’t take some simple precautions.

  43. Monks says:

    I’m dealing with an extremely mobile not-quite seven-month-old. His dad and I were both early walkers (8 months, both of us), and he’s well on his way–crawls like a rocket, pulls up to a stand on coffee tables, desks, bookshelves, his stroller, the television, whatever happens to be nearby. He’s strong as hell, too–25 pounds of little muscles–and ripped a plastic button cover right off our 25-year-old TV. As he was trying to climb it.So, God bless you, parents of 20 month olds. Must be nice. But seven month olds do not understand “no.” He knows I’ve said something, but what can that be? That outlet is calling to him. Our solution has been to keep one moderately safe room gated–the living room–and just never put him on the floor anywhere else. Even in the living room, I play goalkeeper. When he walks, who knows?I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on the plastic explosion of big box stores, but I think in my case, baby proofing may be a necessity.

  44. forseeable harm says:

    in my experience, the personality of the kid matters a lot in terms of babyproofing — some kids are dangermice. And all of these parents of seven month or 20 month old children aren’t considering the lure of negative attention when there is a new baby or other competition for the caregiver’s attention,

  45. Ali Collette says:

    I agree with the article and many of the comments – in theory. I have twins however, twins and a preschooler. Childproofing with multiples isn’t an option. It’s necessary for parental sanity as well as kid’s safety. I’ve linked to this article here: http://twinutero.org/2008/04/childproofing-with-multiples/

  46. momsbeenthere says:

    I agree as well, that we need to let them explore. With that said, I have older kids now and things are no longer “proofed” except those things we have been too lazy to get rid of or we learned to live around. Here are the things that I think are a must tho…for reasons I will explain.1. cabinets with chemicals you use all the time. the babies jsut want to be like mommy and daddy and they see you with the spray bottle of cleaner and want to do the same. If this hasn’t happened yet, it will. They are amazing mimics. Lock up the cleansers!!! not just the bleach. you don’t want to have to try to remember if you use the charcoal or the ipecac at that moment.2. furniture that they might climb. If the things that are out of reach are cool to look at, interesting, or even one of their toys…they will climb. They will open the drawers to get a foot hold or they will just climb. And while it’s rare that you hear about a kid getting crushed by the furniture, it’s probably because people take the five mins to screw ina hook to the wall and a plastic tether around the furniture. My kids are normal, regular, curious kids. I have found both of them climbing the furniture. And not when they were just babies. He is 5 and has been seen climbing to get the lego toy that is on the higher shelf cause someone “cleaned” his room.No need to be crazy, but don’t be ignorant either. Let them be free to explore and don’t overparent. But be vigilant and keep them safe from real danger. Even if they eat junk off the carpet or lick the floor, that won’t be so bad. one more thing…I did put the foam thing around my coffee table. the number of times they tripped over their feet and crashed into to head first…too many to count. and when we went to a vacation house when my son was 2.5 and didn’t have that safety he fell into the soft, round edged coffee table and split his baby soft skin and muscle. 4 stitches in and 4 stitches out to sew him up. and it goes right thru his eyebrow.

  47. Yikes says:

    We’ve babyproofed as much as we can right now within reason, too. We haven’t done the padded furniture thing and not sure if we will, but I do want to stress the importance of securing large furniture items to the wall when possible. My neice pulled her dresser down on top of herself just last month. She was pulling the drawers out and using them as a ladder to get to the top of the dresser. My sister and brother-in-law heard the crash when it fell on her and, luckily, were able to pull her out from underneath. She was fine – terrified and a bit bruised, but fine. My sister is a good mother, she just had no idea that her two year old daughter was doing this. Granted, this girl is a little whirlwind and gets into all kinds of crazy situations, but this could have been avoided. Please please please just take the time to make sure the major stuff is taken care of in your homes for your kiddos.
    “No need to be crazy, but don’t be ignorant either. Let them be free to explore and don’t overparent. But be vigilant and keep them safe from real danger. Even if they eat junk off the carpet or lick the floor, that won’t be so bad.”
    I totally agree with that statement.

  48. abby says:

    I think this totally depends on the child. people used to laugh when they came into my home because it was like fort knox. but it wasn’t because I was lazy or didn’t want to watch my sons. it’s because the baby proofing stuff gives me the extra few seconds to get to them and stop them before they injure themselves. Until you’ve had a kid who can unlock locked doors, climb bookcases or use whatever tools they can find to open the cabinet, you don’t know what it’s like to constantly worry that your child, in their exhubance to explore will injure themselves. I kept all my outside doors locked, b/c I was afraid that one of my kids might really open the door and wander out.
    I’m all for eating dirt, exploring and learning about the world. but don’t try to say that I’m lazy because your little darling walks right past a uncovered plug.

  49. jbs1958 says:

    Hi Erin — I’m preparing the bib numbers for Saturday’s race in Arlington VA. Please send me your CITY. Thank you.
    James Scarborough
    jbs1958@comcast.net

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  51. Jenny says:

    OK, this was FUNNY.

  52. Mommy of 3 says:

    Having been a hospital employee for many years, I can’t laugh at this post. I saw too many serious traumas, yes and even deaths, which could have been avoided with some common sense. Mommy, unless you plan on being inches from your child 24 hours a day, you should practice making your home safe. You wouldn’t let your child ride in the car without a seat belt would you?

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  56. Susan says:

    Erin, I think you’re out of your fing mind, but tell us, did you finally baby proof your home? This is an old article.

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