Today we had a great discussion at our meetup group: Central Connecticut New Parent Resources about home safety with mobile babies. As I went to recap it for those who could not attend, I realized it was too extensive to post there and decided this might be a good place to share our ideas.
We discussed how different philosophies of parenting leads to decisions about “baby proofing”- everyone will encounter someone who doesn’t agree with any particular approach (for example an aunt or grandparent who will say “I’m not moving that-just say “No!”) While saying “No” is a necessary and important part of parenting, it is a draining (of energy) part of parenting. Research has shown that each time we have to make a decision, it depletes us. (When I read that research, it became crystal clear why the new parents I help become overwhelmed, they’ve made at least 10 decisions before breakfast!) So when we make decisions about “baby-proofing” our home, we need to balance our needs to have a some spaces that still feel like our own (adult spaces), and some spaces we can relax, knowing this is a space our babies can safely explore independently. It can and often should be a gradual process, changing as the baby grows and the needs change.
Everyone agreed the nursery should be a safe place. Other thoughts included making one living space a safe area, such as sun room, family room, or living room, and making the kitchen lower cabinets baby safe with plastic stacking bowls and pots and pans, which also make great toys!
Inside the home, there were lots of ideas. We discussed furniture with sharp edges can have foam attached or removed. Light weight furniture, which can fall if pulled upon, can be removed temporarily. Heavy furniture, which can be pulled on top of a child if climbed upon, and some will climb, can be bolted to the wall. Windows can be blocked with furniture, panels, or even cardboard. If there is a window that can be pushed through, it is not going to qualify for the “safe, unsupervised” area.
Moms agreed that life-threatening hazards, such as electricity, should get immediate attention. Electrical outlets can be covered with products from the store, table lamps with cords can be removed or put in high places with cords out of reach. Electrical cords are fascinating to toddlers, as are the games of testing our limits as we try to teach them “no”. While we may sometimes indulge them in the game of “keep away” or “I dropped it, you pick it up”, we discussed that if there is ever a time to be scary stern and even slap a hand, it is when the child tests a life-threatening limit, such as a fork into an outlet or running into the street.
We also talked about safety outside. Play-yard-ed quilts can protect against many outside hazards like unknown pesticides, bugs, and tiny choke-able stones. Sunscreen, sun-protection fabric, hats, beach umbrellas, “One-Step” tents and fitted sheets on top of Pack and Play beds all protect sensitive skin from burns. It was suggested to include meat tenderizer and baking soda in first aid kits for bee stings, and to prevent by being aware of juice cups attracting stinging insects.
We left with the awareness that bumps, bruises, and possibly even a few ER visits are in our future, and we are and will still be good Moms. While we do our very best to keep our children safe, we also know they will grow from all the painful bumps and bruises along the way, gaining confidence in their own ability to cope.