Wednesday July 23, 2014


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Baby proofing for life

The Mother Load

Besides all the great things that Santa left under the tree, the holidays brought Baby K a couple of other surprises. Her two front teeth (which, ironically, cut through on Christmas day and brought some truth to a childhood song) and her very first black eye.

Oh yes, this learning to walk business is a dangerous thing.

In a week of visits from doting family and close friends, Baby K made huge strides in her bid to become mobile as she showed off with everything she had to anyone who would watch.

She went from being a little wiggly on the change table to moving with such force that we now liken it to steer wrestling. While rocking on her hands and knees, she is now propelling forward some of the time. And she’s figured out how to make going backwards work for her. While she used to stand unsteadily against anything she could hold on to, she is now cruising along those same things with little thought and lots of excited squeals.

If I had to guess, we’re mere weeks away from having a fully mobile child. Thus begins the baby-proofing of the home. And I’ve got to tell you – nothing turns a parent in to a paranoid mess faster than a Google search on things to be on the lookout for.

We’ve had our house “baby-proofed” for a few months now in order to give ourselves some learning time on the things that keep both babies and mommies out of the garbage. One by design. The other? Not so much.

We have the big things – the baby gate that will keep the excitement of daddy’s arrival home from work from ending with traumatic tumble down the stairs. We’ve plugged the outlets that can easily be jammed with the metal utensils she loves so much and locked the cabinets that contain things like garbage and bleach. The locks aren’t always operational as I’m as inept with them as Baby K, but I digress.

I thought we were doing fantastic. Ahead of the curve. Baby K was totally safe in our house.

Then, we babysat one of our friends’ 13-month-old who has the moving thing down pat. Within in 15 minutes, every toy was freed from the bins that held them and anything that was off-limits (but still in reach) had been found. I spent a good hour just following him around to see what all he would find and make sure he didn’t eat anything air-hole sized.

It was eye-opening. So, after he went home (and we took a nap – those of you with two or more, I bow down to you), baby-proofing became my obsessive hobby for the next few days. As mentioned above, it caused my normally laidback style to flee in wake of my becoming a slightly paranoid mess.

From button batteries to toilet drownings, I never imagined there could be so many things that could potentially kill a child.

Did you know that button batteries (something that kids will willingly pop like candy should they be laying around apparently) lodge in their throats and create an electrical current through their throat and chest that can cause severe burns leading to tracheotomies, lifelong care and even death?

Or that a pot of hot water pulled down on a child is about a thousand times worse than if it was pulled on to you or me due to the sensitive nature of their skin?

How about the accidental hangings that happen on the strings hanging from every set of blinds in our house? Never thought about them much before.

After a couple of days of checking every toy and electronic for screwed on battery covers like a crazy person and making a $300 list of baby proofing gear, I realized I was being a bit nuts.

Do I need to do a bit more baby proofing? Absolutely. Does our toilet need a lock that will turn our bathroom in to a Rubik’s cube when trying to pee at 3 a.m.? Not so much.

Here’s the thing. We need to make our homes a safe environment for our kids to explore and play in, but restricting absolutely everything does absolutely nothing to teach them about their world. That’s my job. And as a full-time stay-at-home mom (officially now!), it is my job to watch my child and help them explore safely, while setting boundaries and teaching them about things like the word “stop”.

So instead of locking every cabinet, I’m reorganizing my kitchen to make it child-friendly. Basically, no knives, cleaning supplies or dangerous electrics within reach of little fingers. I’m changing my own habits and starting to cook using the burners on the back of the stove and closing doors of rooms that are better left unexplored behind me.

And I’m watching. I’m not on my phone checking email or engrossed by the television- I’m taking an active role in her life to keep her safe and curious.

And I may or may not have gotten rid of everything that takes a button battery and didn’t have a battery cover that requires surgical skills to open.

It’s the kind of baby proofing that just seems to make good sense.

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2013!



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