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to be frustrated with in-laws attitude to childproofing?

(137 Posts)
PurpleGentian Mon 05-Nov-12 14:16:02

Staying at the in-laws with 14 month old DS. Their house is not childproofed, which is understandable, given that they don't have small children around that often. But their lack of understanding about DH & I wanting to temporarily childproof things is getting a bit stressful. It's getting to the point where I don't feel I can take my eyes off DS for a moment unless he's in his cot or highchair.

We've had issues over fireguards, things (ornaments, matches, nail scissors, tiny things that can choke a child) on low tables, dangly tablecloths, looped cords on their blinds, among others. The general impression they give is that they think we're worrying about nothing.

Today, DS got into a backgammon set. I'd not moved this, as it was stored on the floor in what looked like an old briefcase, and I perhaps foolishly thought that it was just an empty old briefcase (in-laws don't throw much away). I noticed just in time to stop him from putting one of the dice into his mouth. When I mentioned this to MIL, her reaction was that it would have caused an awful mess if DS had scattered the pieces all over the floor. My concerns about him choking on the dice were completely dismissed.

I know it's unreasonable to expect them to completely childproof their home for us, but AIBU to expect them to not dismiss our childproofing concerns out of hand? (I possibly am BU, as I'm still a bit shook up by the dice incident)

catsmother Mon 05-Nov-12 14:28:36


As you say you don't expect them to live in a permanently childproofed home but it would be courteous, kind and sensible for them to temporarily remove anything DS could reach which might be dangerous, or which is precious to them and they don't want to be accidentally broken. Or even, if they were happy for you to do a quick recce round, you could move the stuff yourself.

You do wonder what they did when they were parents - did they not have the same justifiable concerns as you do now ?

I can remember visiting certain relatives when my DD was small and it was awful as I spent the entire weekend on edge. It was all "oooh - get her away from there", "make sure she doesn't touch that", "be careful" and so on, and believe me, I was being bloody careful and watching her like a hawk, constantly jumping up to steer her away and so on. But there was absolutely no offer to actually remove the things which were causing the problem .... like a side table covered in sparkly ornaments or a plethora of dangling, low placed houseplants everywhere, and when I suggested doing that it was all "oh no there's no need for that" and I didn't have enough confidence back then to be more assertive. I well remember absolutely dreading going there because there was no way I could relax - ever.

I don't know how old they are but it does seem to me that some people of a certain age love babies and toddlers for the cute factor but are pretty much intolerant of the reality of what they're like. Seen but not heard sort of thing.

kige Mon 05-Nov-12 14:30:39

This isn't the sort of environment where you can stay with a young child. It would be better for inlaws to visit you in your own home or for you to just visit them and not stay the night but watch DS like a hawk.

Spatsky Mon 05-Nov-12 14:40:50

Have you provided child proofing gadgets which they have refused to use? Or have you made specific safety suggestions which they are not agreeing to? I think you need to think of particular temporary actions you would like taken and offer to do them yourself when you visit.

If they won't meet you half way and its stressing you out, you need to either watch your child like a hawk or stop visiting.

EuroShagmore Mon 05-Nov-12 14:49:45

Hmmm, sorry but I think you just have to watch him while you are there.

BraaaaaainsButterfield Mon 05-Nov-12 14:53:21

I think you have to suck it up and watch him. My DS is the same age and does try to get into stuff but from a very early age we've taught him that a firm no means keep off! I can't say he jumps to attention every time but it works at least sometimes and the other occasions one of us will grab him. If he's going near something he shouldn't and doesn't listen to no, I take him away and plonk him in the middle of the floor. He gets a second to realise he's been moved for a reason then distracted with a toy or something.

RubyGates Mon 05-Nov-12 14:58:51

Oh God, I remember the first couple of years with DS2 at the ILs. It was horrendous. Tiny things, breakable things, the dog's ashes in a box a t floor level, that kind of thing.

And they wanted us to stay for nearly two weeks over Christmas two years running. I could barely cope with a day of it.

It was utterly exhausting and nearly drove me to the edge of sanity. Three adults unable to keep a baby/small toddler out of trouble while I went to the loo. Dear God.

BackforGood Mon 05-Nov-12 14:58:53

If there are 4 adults there and one child, I'd have thought it possible to keep a close eye for a few days. Do they resist you and dh saying "I'll just put this up here out of his way for now" , or just not really think - which is understandable ?

PurpleGentian Mon 05-Nov-12 15:04:22

We've bought them a fireguard, made other specific suggestions, we move unsuitable things out of reach (when we spot them).
Problem is, none of it seems to stick. They just sort of agree, and next day, it's all back the way it was. They just don't seem to understand why DH & I think these things are an issue.

It's definitely becoming more of an issue now that he's mobile and curious. But because of the distance between our homes, it isn't possible to visit the in-laws without staying at least one night. And politically, not visiting them for the next couple of years probably isn't an option. Watching DS like a hawk is getting very tiring though. At least I'm getting a break while he has a nap in his nice safe cot right now!

ByTheWay1 Mon 05-Nov-12 15:04:28

I get annoyed by the whole babyproofing thing - why ??

- teach the kids to stay away from things, to not put things in their mouths, to not run on a slippery floor, to keep their hands off stuff they aren't allowed to play with, don't open cupboards etc - yes kids are inquisitive, but it doesn't take too long to get the message....

If it is a strange house, new place and they are 14 months old you need to be with them watching them all the time anyhow.

My FIL was a bit blind and sometimes dropped his pills on the floor - we had to watch the kids ALL the time, yes - but we also had to teach them NOT to put anything in their mouth - that was the safest thing to do.

A friend told me she wouldn't have visited, you can never take the risk etc..... so my daughters would not have got to know their grandad, nor he them - which would have been very sad indeed..

mmmerangue Mon 05-Nov-12 15:05:04

My parents don't actively childproof, but they gradually clear up in front of DS as he wreaks havoc explores their house. Paperwork, ornaments etc get moved when he becomes aware of them and reaches. Minimal effort and it's all back in the same place the next week. Sometimes untouchables are all he wants, sometimes he's happy with his toys on the floor.

They did get a very expensive and huge playpen which they screwed to the wall so it covers the fireplace. In fact he is very good with the fire and will stay 'on the line' (the far edge of the hearthrug) and watch, not go near, so that was over £100 in childproofing wasted. Still time for more GC's though it may yet be useful ;)

RubyGates Mon 05-Nov-12 15:06:25

Is anyomne else laughing hysterically at ByTheWay1's useful suggestion?

Just me then smile . It sounds like one of those helpful tips out of Viz.

ByTheWay1 Mon 05-Nov-12 15:07:51

Sorry - really didn't have a problem being with my kids all the time and teaching them what was right and wrong - I thought that was what mums did??


ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 05-Nov-12 15:08:23

It's ridiculous to leave small dangerous things around when you have a toddler staying - make it clear that it's far too stressful and if they want to see you, they will have to come to you.

BraaaaaainsButterfield Mon 05-Nov-12 15:08:40

I don't think teaching children not to do things is that crazy. It is possible.

RubyGates Mon 05-Nov-12 15:10:18

I wondered what I was doing wrong.
You have enlightened me.
Thank You so much!

mmmerangue Mon 05-Nov-12 15:12:54

bytheway - I have been telling my 20 month old not to put things in his mouth for the best part of a year now. When does it stick, exactly?

mmmerangue Mon 05-Nov-12 15:14:49

I do also trust my parents to stop him touching things he's not meant to - are OPs parents not willing/ doing this properly? Cause if they are more concerned with losing backgammon peices than losing a GC I wouldn't visit them again - ever.

PurpleGentian Mon 05-Nov-12 15:16:32

I agree it's sensible to teach DS not to mess with things, and not to put things in his mouth. We're trying to do this.

But I'd rather not have him running free in a room with an unguarded open fire, and knitting needles, old dead lightbulbs, matches, tiny knicknacks, cactuses & other plants, random bits of wire and so on all over the place at child level until we can trust him to consistently listen when we say no, and consistently not put things in his mouth.

(Fireguard now in place, and other items hopefully all moved out of reach by me & DH.)

pregnantpause Mon 05-Nov-12 15:17:09

I agree with bytheway. I have no idea whythats not considered a good suggestion. My house is not 'babyproof', but I have babies. I teach them to leave ornaments alone and not to put stuff in their mouth. They are not allowed in the kitchen alone. It's not rocket science.

mmmerangue Mon 05-Nov-12 15:17:34

*in-laws... sorry OP blush

SparePants Mon 05-Nov-12 15:18:37

We never "babyproofed" anything either. Obviously we keep dangerous stuff out of reach, but other than that we've taught DS to keep away from the fire, etc. He's 3 and still alive. We lost one of our NCT group who wouldn't come to my dangerous house, but I would never expect someone I was visiting to adapt their home for me. Just keep an eye on him while you're there?

LtEveDallas Mon 05-Nov-12 15:23:22

I think different people parent in different ways and have differing degrees of success. I'm not laughing at Bytheway as we obviously parent the same - it's quite possible.

We never babyproofed, less a fireguard, and that was only because the fire we had was unsafe in any hands shock. Neither did my parents or ILs - not even fireguards. We have always lived far enough away from both sets of parents to have to say for a least the weekend.

DD was only ever told "No" or moved away from the offending object - sometimes she did as she was told straight away, sometimes it took 30 removals - but it always worked in the end. It meant I always had to watch her, but I didn't find that an issue. As for putting things in her mouth - DDs favourite game as a baby was emptying the button tin all over (at least 10x a day!). We had no choice but to teach her NOT to put things in her mouth, otherwise sh'd have eaten the lot after a week.

I have friends whose children are now in school and they still have bleach etc in a locked top cupboard, they are horrified by the fact that I've never done it!

Moominsarescary Mon 05-Nov-12 15:24:51

I would think that the average house doesn't have all the random crap laying around like ops pils seem to have so not baby proofing wouldn't be such a problem.

Having an unguarded open fire is just plain stupid with toddlers around.

mmmerangue Mon 05-Nov-12 15:27:26

My bleach is in a cupboard which is not locked but I think I have scared my DS off it because when he first tried to go into it I went absolutely ballistic. He has rarely tried since and has only needed a stern NO to shut it... I always thought I had 'baby proofed' but reading here maybe I'm in the more relaxed end of the spectrum.

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