Advanced search

to allow my baby to hurt herself?

(185 Posts)
ThroughTheRoundWindow Fri 09-Sep-11 16:14:48

Now, before you all start phoning social services I'm not sitting her at the top of the stairs with a pile of razor blades and letting her do what she will! All I mean is that occasionally I let her play with things (under supervision) which aren't strictly toys and allow her to find out what it can do.

For example yesterday she found an elastic band on the floor. She chewed it and pulled at it happily for 10 minutes before the inevitable happened and it twanged back and hit her in the face. It hurt, she cried, I gave her a hug and less than a minute later she was fine again. She never let go of the elastic band and as soon as I put her down again she started playing with it again. She didn't twang herself in the face again though.

To me this seems ok but I go to a baby group where the Mum's go through the treasure baskets and take out anything they consider might pose a risk (keys too sharp, stick too pointy, pine cone too fragile) and only let the baby touch the really smooth, really boring objects. Always one to doubt myself I do see this and sometimes wonder if I am a bit lassez-faire with my child's safety? And I dread to think what these women would do if they saw my baby at home allowed to eat small food items and chew toys that aren't 100% clean.

To me it is important to let her explore freely, but even more it is important that I trust her to explore. If I can't let her chew and elastic band now, how on earth am I going to let her ride a bike or walk to the shops on her own or any of the 1,000,000 more risky things she needs to do in order to grow up?

Is this reasonable or should I be taking more care?

thekidsmom Fri 09-Sep-11 16:19:25

Well, I seem to be first here unless there's another MNetter typing furioulsy.

You cannot be serious. Either that or you're out of your mind.

Parents are there to stop babies picking up stuff that can hurt them. You Daughter is clearly a baby from your description - it'll take her more than one episode of twanging herself with an elastic band or poking herself in the eye with a stick to learn that she shouldnt do it.

Fuzzled Fri 09-Sep-11 16:20:34

Well, if you're BU, then IBU.

Found my 11mo climbing (i.e. standing on the edge like a tightrope walker) on his toy crate to try to get a forbidden remote.

I'd only left the room for two seconds! confused

cadelaide Fri 09-Sep-11 16:24:10


I've come on here for some support because I've been shouted at in the street, and it looks as though you're just the person!

Walking home from school, DS (5) dawdling behind, walking on walls, jumping off. I tend to leave him to it, pretty much. Then I hear him crying, he's fallen and hit his head quite hard. There is a queue of traffic and a woman sticks her head out of the window and bellows at me, repeatedly "...should have been bloody watching him".

It was awful, embarrassing, and I felt bad of course because my little man was hurt. Don't spose I'll change now though, he's our third and I've become a little slacker with each one! grin

StickThemWithThePointyEnd Fri 09-Sep-11 16:24:57

I am going to jump in here and say that I let my 2yo ds do similat things since.he was old enough to show interst in other objects. I would never seriously let him hurt himself, but things like rubber bands are unlikely to cause much damage imo. as long as the proper supervision is there I don't see a problem with letting him make his own experiences.
He won't melt if he gets wet in the rain, and he won't break because he isn't being wrapped in cotton wool all the time.

AgentZigzag Fri 09-Sep-11 16:26:10

It's up to you where you draw the line between letting your baby explore an interesting world, and letting her find out for herself that things can hurt her.

But it's a very fine line, and if you get some of them wrong you're going to feel guilty you've let your baby badly hurt herself when you could have stopped it.

There was a thread on AIBU a while ago where the mum asked whether it was OK for her baby to play with a plastic bag, she thought it'd be alright because she was there with her.

The consensus seemed to be that she was definately in the wrong.

PeggyCarter Fri 09-Sep-11 16:26:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:27:53

YABU IMO, she's a baby, you are there to protect her from dangerous things until she can understand and then you must TEACH her about them

Sirzy Fri 09-Sep-11 16:27:58

I agree with zigzag. Personally I would draw the line at chewing an elastic band but that's just me!

GeekCool Fri 09-Sep-11 16:31:11

DH's family freak out when ds runs incase he hurts himself. If he falls, he gets a cuddle if needed and off he goes running again. A scraped knee never killed anyone.
I'm fairly cool with germs and stuff, but money/elastic bands in the mouth are a HUGE no for me.

OhdearNigel Fri 09-Sep-11 16:33:55

We let DD hurt herself within limits. I do take keys off her as she has a tendency to poke things in her face but in general we operate a "learning consequences of actions" policy in our household. Nothing dangerous obviously

OhdearNigel Fri 09-Sep-11 16:35:23

"you are there to protect her from dangerous things "

Not sure that pinging an elastic band could be described as dangerous hmm

fanjobiscuit Fri 09-Sep-11 16:36:58


Far too many children are so mollycoddled that they dont have the inquisitive spark necessary to make the most of what the world has to offer. I am definitely a hands off Mother and encourage children to push the boundaries a little more each time. Of course children will hurt themselves -its part of growing up .But the shock of a small bit of pain actually cements the learning into their brains. Much quicker way of doing things than all those boring lectures about being careful .

But even I would balk at ketting a small child play with rubber bands-sooner or later they will not be in your direct eyeline and rubber bands are far too easy to choke on.

Acandlelitshadow Fri 09-Sep-11 16:38:52

A rubber band is a ludicrous thing to let a baby play with. Ten minutes chewing and frigging about with it is going to weaken it. It could disintegrate. She could swallow a piece or even the whole thing and choke even with you right there.

Loads of time for her to learn about stuff. What's the rush?

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:38:54

dangerous or pain-causing

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:39:12

she will have lots of time to learn about things when she is a bit bigger IMO

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:39:28

and don't hmm roll your eyes at ME

Meglet Fri 09-Sep-11 16:42:23

yanbu-ish. I did the same thing with my newly crawling dc's and the holly and cacti in the garden. They have never touched them since!

Although I wouldn't take my eyes of my dc's if they were playing with an elastic band.

firstforthought Fri 09-Sep-11 16:47:04

I would think that a twang in the eye would hurt and possibly dangerous. Anyway, IME babies/toddlers get hurt enough without me letting them actually play with things that might harm them. I, like Geekcool, steer very clear of these things as they will be put in the mouth -- slightly paranoid about choking --

firstforthought Fri 09-Sep-11 16:48:33

blush whoops.

WidowWadman Fri 09-Sep-11 16:53:12

Rubber band is fine probably. I guess I wouldn't leave my baby alone in another room with one just in case she'd choke. But some playing and twanging herself with it can't hurt much I must admit I felt guilty when she got hold of one of my seam rippers at 7 months when I did't pay attention and I did take it from her before she could hurt herself.

But a rubberband, really? People should get over themselves

Sirzy Fri 09-Sep-11 16:56:22

"people should get overthemselves"

Yup of course they should get over not wanting there baby to swallow/choke on an elastic band!!

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:57:06

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

AMumInScotland Fri 09-Sep-11 16:58:35

Personally, I'd draw the line at the rubber band - choking is a very real hazard for small children, and it's very quick for something to come to pieces and go down the wrong way.

I don't think restricting her a little now means wrapping her in cotton wool and never letting her ride a bike or go to the shops alone - I agree many parents are overprotective, but that doens't mean you should make a virtue of being careless of genuine risks.

BTW if you aren't worried, can I ask if you've ever done a first aid course so that you'd be quick to deal with anything that did happen? It's worth it for peace of mind however cautious or otherwise your parenting is.

CBear6 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:59:47


There's a huge difference between letting a child be seriously hurt through neglect (that'll be the razor blades at the top of the stairs) and a child getting a mild shock while exploring their environment. DS is 2yo and he's in an incredibly willfull phase, I could explain something to him a hundred times and he still won't believe me so, within reason, I let him figure it out for himself through experience. Obviously I'm not going to let him climb in the oven or hang out of the upstairs windows, he has to take my say-so on things like that, but on other matters I've started to sit back and watch. Sitting at the table for tea the other night and he reached for the pepper, propelling it to his mouth, "no DS, you won't like that", took it off him and he picked it up again so I let him put it in his mouth. He got a sprinkle of pepper on his tongue and now he tells me "tickles, yuck" when he sees the pot. I tell him not to put his finger in the hole in the metal key bit on the shopping trolley and repeatedly stop him, I turn my back to get something off the shelf, he gets his finger stuck in it. It came straight out again but he hasn't done it since.

There's nothing wrong with managed risk, children need to learn to assess situations for themselves and sometimes it's better for them to learn their own lessons because it's more effective than being told. It's like a wet paint sign, you can tell someone there's wet paint and a large majority of them will still touch it to check for themselves.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now