When it came to toddler-proofing my home it was a difficult decision to make. I wanted to do some, but not too much. But I had friends who wanted to do anything and everything that was recommended and I questioned whether I was doing enough.
As a parent I consider every small fall (where she isn’t hurt) as a victory – it means she’s that much closer to understanding risk, danger and how her body works in the physical space. So when the time came to child proofing my house I figured it was necessary to childproof anything dangerous, but not anything that couldn’t really hurt her.
I find that so much of my life as a parent is often analysing and subsequently avoiding companies or philosophies that make me feel neglectful for NOT purchasing their product. The child safety industry is a multi-billion pound industry and that’s not surprise. We all love our children and would do anything to prevent them suffering unnecessary/ preventable injuries. But there are some things to genuinely worry about and some things that have been manufactured by the ‘parenting industry’ for us to worry about. And discerning between the two can be a full time job.
But baby/toddler-proofing is something that you have to do because there ARE everyday dangers in the house that they need to avoid (big falls, knives, chemicals, etc). The question is – to what extent do we make our homes unlivable fortresses to prevent small injuries?
Initially I wanted to do just the drawers with knives and under the sink. Initially I just wanted a gate at the top of the stairs. In the end my house turned into pretty much a fortress, a very kid-friendly fortress. A live-in soft play, if you will. Slowly but surely my house is returning to it’s former glory, as Annie gets older and (I would like to think) wiser.
So let’s get into what I actually did to make my house baby-friendly, safe and most importantly, less stressful than it was.
I bought covers for all my visible and accessible sockets in the house. This pack of Socket Covers at Amazon cost less than £5 and they were worth every penny. There’s no installation required and it’s an easy win in the childproofing game
Would I do this again? I think so. Annie plays with sockets a lot (or tries to!). I do worry that when she’s not in my house she will stick a fork in one because she’s not being taught on a daily basis to avoid them. These are the risks of providing no risks I suppose.
Drawers and cupboards
Ugh, this one is so annoying. I ended up doing every single drawer and cupboard and have since taken some of them off. Here’s my advice – do whatever you feel comfortable with, and if you hate messes then do all of them.I decided to take some of them off because realised, even though it causes a mess, it’s fun for kids to play in drawers and ‘organise’ them. So if they are safe to play in then I let Annie (within reason). When I’m cooking she sometimes unloads and reloads the cupboards or bangs on pots and pans and it’s fun and we somehow feel like we are doing it together. Of course you must do the knife drawer and under the sink if you keep any chemicals there, but otherwise I say don’t worry about the cupboard that houses your tupperware or pots and pans – they will all survive the wrath of a toddler just fine.
Probably the most annoying and yet often the most necessary of all the child proofing. My friends/family members get driven crazy by these things as often NO ONE can figure out how to get through them. Welcome to our inviting home!!!!
Over the past 18 months I’ve installed 3 gates in my house. One at the bottom of the stairs (off the living area), one at the top of the stairs and one on her bedroom door. This is about containment. This is less for safety and more for my sanity while trying to get things done, like cooking or cleaning. This forces her to stay in those rooms when they are closed. This is probably not entirely necessary but now that she can run really fast and open doors (like the front door) its nice to know that if/when we need to she can be lovingly detained in an area.
I didn’t have any foam corners put on things. I hate those things and aesthetically can’t handle them on my pretty furniture. Instead I stored my coffee table, got rid of all sharp cornered tables for the time being and introduced mostly rounded furniture. All of the furniture in the room is now pretty safe (and hard to stain as its leather) and I’m still proud of how it looks. I have removed almost all accessories at toddler level except pillows, books and DVDs (which she plays with and I’m fine with).
I installed a fire guard in my living room as soon as Annie started crawling. As soon as she was mobile she made a beeline for the fireplace. For me, retrospectively, this is a child-proofing purchase I could have probably managed without. It was a very short period of time that Annie showed any interest in the fireplace, and at no point did I ever light the fire so there was no particular fire safety risk. I was mostly preventing her from picking up the coal and making a mess on the rug, as opposed to preventing 3rd degree burns or worse. In fact, the guard itself caused more issues than it was worth as Annie, for a time, loved tugging at it and attempting to pull it off the wall.
Conclusions: Reducing Risk, Reducing Stress
Toddler-hood is a temporary stage in the timeline of life, and spending real money on toddler-proofing your house might be a bit insane and wasteful, especially retrospectively. The more we eliminate risk from their lives the more we are just putting off injuries or just making them happen elsewhere. At the same time parenting is stressful and I’m a fan of reducing stress in ANY WAY because I think that it makes us a happier family. Those gates reduce my stress when I’m with Annie and I’m trying to get things done. If she fell the wrong way and really seriously hurt herself I would never ever, ever forgive myself because this was in my control. So I’m less preventing the injury and more preventing my involvement in the injury. I think you have to gauge how much that is worth to you. It only takes one wrong fall and no matter how optimistic of a person you are in life (me being VERY) as a parent you see the worst case scenario play out in your imagination all the time. And the modern parenting industry is marketing and banking on that fear.
So, that’s how I toddler-proofed our home. It’s definitely a personal decision to make and different for every parent. Gauge the level of stress/worry the ‘danger’ gives you and then decide whether you want to reduce that stress or live with it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, especially more experienced parents (do you become less worried the more children you have?). To what extent did you baby-proof? Is your house a fortress? And if not, are you happy with what you did or didn’t do?