Where and When Can You Leave Your Baby Alone?

You know how in every parenting book it warns you to never leave your baby alone on a high surface unattended? I’ve been a witness to why doctors, toy manufacturers, parenting experts and your grandma have been pounding this commandment into our heads for the last, oh … pretty much forever. It doesn’t matter if it’s your baby or a baby you don’t know, seeing a baby free-falling from a high surface is a terror no words can describe. (To those of you who are all, HOW NOW HYPOCRITE? Here’s how I answer you, mom off camera … hand on baby … take hand away (STAY RIGHT THERE) … click! … hand back on baby. As far as all the other hater comments? The fire ants weren’t able to climb the bookshelf and the broken glass and metal shards on the floor right below him were at least sterilized. *sigh*)

Back in December I actually caught a toddler in midair as he was diving headfirst out of a shopping cart onto the hard tile floor. The parents were pulling the cart from the front, not paying attention that their son had not only unbuckled, but managed to stand up. A post I read today asked, “For How Many Seconds, Exactly, Can You Leave Your Baby Alone?

I thought the author made some really good (and funny) points. Having a baby does change every second of your existence whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s like being on call 24/7 for the next 18 years. Thinking that others who had read the article would be just as satisfied as I was, I ventured into the comments.

Whoops.

I have a friend of a friend who left her 9-month-old daughter in a babyproofed room with a load of laundry. She ran to the other room to help an older child and in the time she was away, her baby found a rogue nursing pad wrapper in the laundry basket, choked on it and died.

This story haunts me.

As Vivi becomes more and more mobile I’ve come to realize there are exactly two safe places for her when I need to run to the bathroom, take a shower, switch the laundry or any other of the dozen things I do everyday that aren’t as easily performed with a baby on me or at my heels. The first is her play yard that is set up in our bedroom and the second is her crib, sure she’s konked her head a few times in her crib but nothing major. Any other room? DANGERS ALL AROUND. (Well, in my head at least.)

Would I ever run to to store while my baby napped? Absolutely not.

Would I sit outside with the monitor while my older daughter rode her bike? Sure. (You know, as long as I was sure I had a way into my house.)

“But one thing I do know is that parenting is an endless series of tiny little judgments that are all about measuring risk, and that the second you step foot inside this labyrinth, you must immediately surrender the coveted aerial view.” Tracy Moore

 

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