Welcome to another Babywise Friendly Blog Network day! Today all the ladies of the BFBN are blogging about various aspects of safety. You can check out the pinterest page to get to all the posts!
Today I’m talking about baby and child proofing. I knew when Ben was born that of course I wanted to make his home as safe as possible. But we also wanted him to learn to navigate a world that isn’t 100% safe. I mean, we planned to take him out of our home at some point, meaning he would have to face situations with dangers. We decided to baby proof just enough. Just enough to be safe and able to relax in our home, but not so much he would never learn to be careful. Here’s how we did it.
1) Take care of the real, immediate dangers. What does this mean to me? It means to make sure anything that can cause instant terrible injury or death is baby proofed. All cleaning supplies and any sort of chemical that can be swallowed is behind a locked cabinet or up on a high shelf even I can’t reach without a stool. Knives, scissors, sharp items are all well out of reach. Dagger’s litter box is in the basement, which opens up into the living room, so baby gate is in place to allow Dagger access and prevent Ben from falling. Furniture is anchored to the wall. Outlets are covered. Oven knobs are covered. While we want Ben to learn to navigate the world around him, we also know he is a small child. He doesn’t know what can maybe cause a two second owie, and what, frankly, could kill him. So while we are easy going on some baby proofing measures, legit safety is not one of them.
2) Decide what items you absolutely do not want broken. We have a few items that I know I didn’t want broken. A couple of nice wedding gifts, a couple of knickknacks from Pat’s and my relationship so far. Nothing that is super valuable, but it is valuable to me. I took the items I knew I in no way wanted broken and put them in an area Ben can’t access. They aren’t items I want Ben learning on. This also includes a couple of Ben’s books. We have some that have been passed down from family and are really nice. We pull them out when we can read them with Ben, but otherwise they are put away so tiny hands can’t destroy them. I don’t want to set us up for failure, so why leave items I know I can’t really replace out to be broken?
3) Leave a few practice items out. By practice items I mean things that I know I don’t want Ben to touch, but that can’t be broken easily. For us that one item that includes is the remote controls. Ben has never been allowed to play with the remote controls. That being said, they are often out. They are a perfect item to practice seeing something, but not touching it. Oh, he still touches it of course. Come on, he’s two, he looooves buttons to push. He also knows he is not supposed to touch it. With the remote he gets to practice his self control, but it isn’t really going to hurt anything if that self control doesn’t last very long. He is also not supposed to go into the diaper bag on his own. It is often out and full of items he can handle with no big deal. With it out we practice resisting temptation and listening to mom and dad when they say don’t touch.
4) Give the kid safe places to explore. In our kitchen there are two cabinets that are free for Ben to look at. They hold our pots and pans mainly. He can open those up, pull stuff out, mess around with them. Sure, it can be annoying to re-stack the pots, but he can’t really hurt himself with them. He is allowed to play with the Tupperware as well. The good part of him taking things out of cabinets is we get to practice cleaning up. And honestly since he has free reign over those, he isn’t super interested in the other cabinets he can’t get into. His curiosity has been satisfied in a safe way. It also gives him something to do in the kitchen while I am cooking.
5) Be prepared for messes and incidental owies. Of course I do not want my son to get hurt. But you know what? If he backs into the coffee table enough he is going to learn to look where he is going. Sometimes Ben feels the need to put every book he can get his hands on all over the couch. Sometimes every toy needs to be on the floor. Sometimes he gets into the diaper bag when we aren’t looking and the contents end up all over the place. Sure, if we had fully baby proofed all of these items this wouldn’t happen. It would be a lot easier and cleaner. But what sort of lesson would Ben learn from that? I’m not exactly happy when Ben gets a hold of a box of tissues and pulls them all out. Did it hurt anything though? No. I’m willing to put up with some annoyances to work on bigger issues of listening and learning not to touch when told.
These are the main guidelines we follow. Of course with the new babies on the way we will have to tighten up our requirements for what is safe enough to be out. (Small toys put away, back to being more careful with paper books, etc.) This approach has worked for us so far. Ben is safe enough that we can be comfortable in our own home. He is also learning boundaries. I can see that it is working when we are at the office and at other people’s homes. He understands that there will be items out he cannot touch. Sure, they are tempting. But most of the time he knows and obeys the ‘not for Ben’ command. These lessons don’t take the place of actually watching him, of course. I don’t expect my two year old to always resist temptation, but at least it has laid the ground work for doing so. Ben has age appropriate opportunities to explore and to learn about safety in the world. Works for us.
Be sure to check out the other ladies in BFBN for their posts on safety!
You can also check out the pinterest board BFBN Pinterest to see lots of great tips!