Balance between baby-proofing and allowing exploration(22 Posts)
Any tips on how to get the balance right between baby-proofing and allowing LOs to explore their environment so they can develop physically and learn about risk?
Hubby is in the process of putting up stair gates, fire guards, door jams etc etc. I agree that this is a good idea to keep DD safe but I worry about going too far with it. Eg DH thinks we need to get rid of the coffee table but I say it should stay as she needs to be able to pull herself up to learn to cruise and ultimately to walk. Of course I want to keep her safe but I want her to be bold and learn things in her own time without us wrapping her up in cotton wool.
Any tips on how much baby-proofing is really necessary? And how much risk is acceptable? Thanks.
Watching with interest.
DS is 9 months and is crawling and crushing and so far we have got one baby gate. That's it.
No door or drawer latches, plug socket covers, corner guards etc. I've just moved fragile things out of his reach.
He opens drawers and I say no and he usually looks at me and stops. Sometimes I have to move him and give him a toy.
Don't know if my relaxed approach means we're going to end up in a&he a lot though, so like to hear what others do!
Yes Hobby that's kind of what my approach has been so far. Mine is 8mo and crawling and pulling up to standing and just about to cruise although falls over when she tries that.
Part of what is bothering me is that I read you should baby-proof and let them explore rather than constantly say no and move them. However, I just feel that there are so many potential risks that reveal themselves on a daily basis the house is going to look ridiculous if we baby-proof absolutely everything and that brings me to my next worry, so much baby-proofing that she never learns about risk and her development is delayed by having nothing to pull at / pull up on etc etc.
It's a minefield.
I've taken the road of not particularly baby proofing (bar an elastic band around the cupboard under the sink with the nasty stuff in it) but also not particularly giving a shit about stuff that might get damaged by my marauding 13 month old. I'm currently looking at massively indented TV speakers full of little finger pokes.
Important stuff is kept up high and I just keep a watchful eye... in the back of my head...at all times. I say no occasionally (cue outraged facial expression from herself) but mostly just accept that our house will be a mini-war zone for the next while
We initially put up baby gates, drawer latches and corner covers (on every bloody corner). Ds is 17 months now and they've all come down bar the drawer latch on the cupboard under the sink. He pulled all of the corner covers off himself and just chewed them! We've baby proofed in the sense that we've taught him how to get down stairs backwards, moved anything of value out of reach (probably to stay there until he moves out!) and just accepted that the place will be a bit of a tip at the end of the day.
Sometimes it's easier to just constantly supervise them and have a safe area to plonk them quickly when you can't (like a playpen or travel cot) than proof everything.
I don't think plug covers are recommended in the UK because they can end up counteracting the build in safety features UK sockets have.
We didn't add any gates/ catches etc. but just made sure actual dangerous stuff was away ie cleaning stuff and medicine is now in high cupboard. Everything else we just kept and eye on them, or moved them into room with us and closed door if needed.
Coffee table they will maybe bang head on but not actually cause damage such as say bleach would
We also travel lots and we figured hotel rooms/ villas / families homes wouldn't be baby proofed with gates etc so was better to teach them quicker how to safely go around places.
The only thing I think is a definite must is a fire guard. Everything else depends on your house and your child. Eg we never had a stair gate in our house, but if we had lived in my friend's new townhouse with cliff faces for stairs we would have needed them. Neither of mine have been interested in the knife drawer or cleaning products cupboard; my nephew would empty the contents of both in a flash and try to juggle them
Oh, and lift precious breakable things up high or pack them away for a few years
I remember my DH dutifully putting cupboard locks everywhere. Before he was two our DS had worked them out. He used to get building blocks to enable him to climb onto the stairgate, he used to climb up the handles of his chest of drawers so we had to take them off. Nightmare.
Interesting question. I think it's such a personal thing, there is no 'right answer', as everyone has a different approach to risk due to their own personality and experiences.
You can balance the two, though. For example, you could get rid of the coffee table if keeping it makes your DH uncomfortable but your daughter will still be able to experiment with risk by cruising around the sofa, she just won't be able to go charging into the corners when she's bigger!
I personally really like the Montessori approach to setting up your house (I am a childminder so I need to adjust my house more than average!) - encouraging independence as much as possible by having child size at a child's level, letting them experiment and test their limits, playing with real objects etc.
Thanks so much for the responses. All very useful indeed.
I think we will stick with a fire guard, lock away dangerous items, remove breakables and have a few safe areas (pen etc) and then just encourage her to get around and be independent. It is a balance, probably a bit of trial and error too.
Oh goodness Amothersplace - your DS sounds like a live wire. I suspect my DD will find similar escapology skills soon.
We just proofed the life changing injury stuff. DS went through a period of about 3 weeks shutting his fingers in drawers. Cue lots of yells and cuddles but now he can open and close safely. Just moved dangerous things up high and shuffled kitchen cupboards to give him 2 full of things he can take out. We do do the elastic band thing though
Can I just say that, however else you decide to baby-proof your house, as tarka said previously, socket covers are not needed on UK sockets and in fact serve to make them more dangerous - check out the fatally flawed website.
Anyway, we tried the cupboard locks etc with ds when he was a toddler but managed to open them anyway by just using sheer force! All we did was put a stair gate on his room, move all the dangerous things (bleach and washing tablets etc) into a high place
so high that I can't reach them now and disconnect the switch for the electric fire so it can't be accidentally switched on. We also bought something similar to these to prevent the drawers in their rooms being pulled over.
Otherwise, I agree with you in that you can take it too far and move from being safety conscious to almost oppressing their need to explore.
Oh, and we never used a gate on the stairs (our house is designed in such a way that we can't). Instead, we showed them how to climb up and down them safely and kept them in the dining room and closed the door (living room opens onto the stairs).
I think it also depends on your child - mine was the sort to be into everything within nanoseconds, a friends dd never touched anything once told no. Of course, they congratulated themselves on the excellent parenting which meant they could keep all the ornaments out, then had a second child who was a toucher/fiddler undeterred by what they were told fifty squillion times.
We have stair gates, latch on chemicals cupboard and one other which contains batteries and light bulbs among other things, and have managed to teach dd not to play with the TV stand. We did move the electric fire into the garage as it wasn't stable and had lots of pebbles, asking for trouble!
She's been tought how to come up and down stairs safely but still use gate because I don't want her randomly roaming the house, but haven't needed more than that.
She knows which cupboards she's allowed to look in, and tends not to open others, although I suspect that might change.
We got rid of our coffee table but haven't really done anything else (apart from move breakable things). Coffee table was just the wrong height and solid! We haven't put gates up yet but our house is pretty small and we have no stairs, as for the kitchen I just take her away when she tries to go in!
The plug socket covers thing is interesting. I was told by HV we MUST have them. I haven't got any after reading fatally flawed site.
We have yet to baby proof, DD is cruising but not crawling. We have a playpen where she goes if I leave the room (to separate her from the dog). We have cupboard locks, but not yet fitted. Must get onto that!
My hv also more or less told me off for not having them, rockshow, and I tried to explain why we hadn't. She just waved her hand and said, "Well I haven't seen that research," and went on to talk about children being electrocuted etc. Ds was only about 3 weeks old and I didn't feel strong enough to argue with her or point her in the direction of that website. We didn't get them though and she never mentioned it again.
We have a stair gate mostly because we both work from home and the office is upstairs. We also moved all chemicals to a high shelf in the bathroom. Nothing else has been needed so far but of course you keep assessing as they get older and more adventurous.
We spent time teaching him hot we started with hot drinks so he could touch without being hurt. We have a log burner and haven't needed a fire guard. Although he did touch a candle flame once but no burns and he hasn't done it again.
Oh we also have a gate on the living room but that's so the newborn can be left protected from the toddler and a very licky dog.
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