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Babyproofing: How Much Will You Pay for Peace of Mind?

baby-safetyLike everything in parenting, we used to fly by the seat of our pants when it came to childproofing. Now there are experts.

No, really. I’m not talking about one of those guides on the Internet (although Babble’s will do quite nicely if we do say so ourselves!). There are now folks hiring themselves out just so parents can feel a little less like they’re putting their precious bundles at risk.

How do I know? A writer at the New York Times did what I wouldn’t (or dare say couldn’t) – she called them in to assess her home hazards. And at $300 just for the original visit, I dearly hope the IRS will see fit to allow her to write it off as a business expense (hey, she is writing about it).

The exorbitant fees (one expert didn’t charge for an initial visit but did come up with nearly $800 in “must fixes”) aside, Ariel Kaminer poses an interesting question. We all want to keep our kids safe, after all, but how much weight to do you put toward ruling out “every conceivable risk” (her words) or just covering “the obvious hazards?”

And what these experts consider as those most obvious hazards differed so vastly (read her piece for the whole breakdown) that it makes a parent wonder: I thought I was going for the whole enchilada to protect my kid . . . am I?

In our house childproofing was limited, to be honest. We locked up the cabinet under the sinks in both the kitchen and bathroom – to protect her from all those hazardous chemicals. Locks were also placed on the drawers with the most dangerous objects within (think our cheese grater), and the knives placed on a magna bar high on the kitchen wall. Medical supplies were kept up high enough that no locks were required. A sturdy baby gate was installed at the top of the stairs, the door to the basement stairs kept closed.

That was it. Perhaps we were just oblivious, but I didn’t see any other hazards that couldn’t be mitigated by simply keeping an eye on my daughter. There were even a few we skipped because the possible mishaps were minor enough that they were worth teaching her a lessons.

True we also changed some of our lifestyle before baby. We got rid of the glass coffee table in favor of a solid piece of wood in the shape of an oval (no pointy edges). We bought an arm to hang the TV up high (added bonus: reduced neck strain!). So much was done less actively, more intuitively. No hot vaporizer – check. No dangling drape cords – well, duh.

In the end, we came down on “obvious hazards” vs. “every conceivable risk” and we were at peace with our decisions. Seeing the results of the experts’ visit to Kaminer’s apartment, I wonder – do they provide more peace of mind or make you more neurotic?

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Childproofing Guide

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