7/29/13

Childproofing: Necessary or Lazy Parenting?


I began childproofing my home before my son was born. I had heard so many horror stories about babies sticking their fingers in electrical sockets, pulling TV’s down on themselves and choking on shoe laces that I could not let that be my child’s fate. I plugged every socket, put latches on every cabinet, got a shoe rack for our shoes, cut the cords open on the mini blinds… I admit, I was borderline obnoxious, but I wanted to be safe not sorry. 

The whole time that I was obsessing over baby proofing, a girlfriend who was pregnant with number two told me most of what I was doing was completely unnecessary.  She said she didn’t believe in childproofing, and that she just taught her children boundaries. She insisted that childproofing was a cover-up for lazy parenting. I wanted to insist that she was an ass for saying that.  But she was on baby number two, maybe she knew something I didn't... 

Even though I debated listening to my good friend and been there-done-that mother, I never could get my head around her theory.  How could she possibly teach a six month old not to stick her finger in a socket, or pull cleaning chemicals out of a cabinet? I just could't risk it, I continued childproofing.

But wouldn’t you know, whenever I would take Oliver to her house for a play date,  her daughter acted like a perfect angel while Ollie looked for trouble.  I asked her how she did it, and she said lots of patience and redirecting her child by saying, “NO! that’s not for you! But this is for you.”

She explained that the key was redirection.  She gave her daughter a drawer in the kitchen full of her things, and spaces that were all her own in other areas of the house. When her daughter would get into something she shouldn't, she would redirector to her something that belonged to her.  She created boundaries just like she said, and it worked. (Here is where I wanted to interject a “BITCH!,” but you know what they say, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”)

Recently I started thinking about whether I made a mistake childproofing. Should I have listened to her and created boundaries instead?

Nope! Knowing all I know, I just cannot get my head around not childproofing at all. There are too many dangers in a pre-baby house.  Measures need to be taken to create a safe space.  Plus, once a baby becomes mobile they are fast and crazy, there has to be a level of baby proofing!  

Things like plugging electrical sockets, keeping small objects off of the floor, cutting the loops in the mini blind pulls, clearing things away from windows that can be used as a step to fall out, keeping sharp objects out of reach, fixing furniture so it cannot be pulled forward, and securing the TV should not be overlooked when childproofing. Also, now that Oliver is becoming more and more fascinated with my electronic devices I have started childproofing them too.  There are childproof covers for smartphones and tablets, and recently  when I got a new MacBook Pro, I was able to find the sweetest MacBook Pro case to protect it.  

I love this case!  It's Purple!
And it let's the apple shine through.
So. Cute! 
There is no way around it, childproofing is extremely necessary! Now that being said... I do believe there is truth in some forms of childproofing being "lazy parenting."  One of my biggest regrets is letting Oliver unload my bedside table drawer and empty my bookshelf on daily basis.  I felt that I was choosing my battles wisely (lazy). At toddler stage my day could be one constant “NO!” I don’t want to be that mom yelling NO! all of the time. I try to let Ollie explore and learn lessons on his own. Now that drawer is empty and I have NO idea where any of the stuff is. Slowly, one by one he would make off with something. I chose that battle wrong. It was a perfect chance to teach Ollie to respect mommy’s things. Fail.

Why yes, that book is titled:
Don'ts for Mothers...
Fail.
We also have a problem with him climbing on the coffee table.  We were so proud of him for climbing, that again we thought we were choosing chose our battles wisely.  Now we have an empty table and a son with no boundaries around furniture.  Fail. Double fail when visiting friends and family.  

I have learned a very valuable lesson about childproofing that I hope I can pass on to parents still in the childproofing stage.  Definitely plug up sockets and stay mindful of small harmful objects, but do create boundaries where necessary.  Basically if you would not want your child doing something at a playdate's house, then don’t let him do it at yours. Keep in mind, making concessions for your child that are not about safety, may be more harmful than good. Babies need baby proofing. Toddlers need boundaries.



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Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. In addition to being the founder of First Time Mom and Dad, April is an award-winning published writer. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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