Monday, July 28, 2008

Babyproofing, part 3

As I've been following my dextrous little monkey around the house over the past several months, and as we've been gradually babyproofing the house, I've figured out a secret that babyproofing experts don't want to tell you:

There's no such thing as babyproofing.

The only way to make something truly and completely babyproofed is to lock it in a room in your house. I mean, put it in a room, close the door, and padlock the door with a really good Masterlock. That's it. Oh - and, make sure that the lock has one key, and that key is swallowed. A determined child will try every combination until they find the proper one, or wait until you're asleep and borrow the key, or find the slip of paper in your wallet that has the combination written on it. But, I digress.

We put some "child-proof cabinet locks" on the kitchen cabinet. These have been advertised as being childproof to about age three or four, when - perhaps - you're slightly less concerned about the kid drinking drain cleaner.

(Childproofing tip #1: store all deadly chemicals under lock & key in the garage - then, don't let your kid in the garage.)

The Boy, when he finally noticed them, took them off the cabinet in approximately 2.5 seconds. Now, to be fair, we had to use two of them, linked together in a chain, because of the peculiarities of the cabinet handles; and, his method of entry was blunt force, but, still... that's pretty quick. So, what do we do about it?

Well, nothing. Two major reasons:

1) We have a drawer in the kitchen with toys, pots and pans inside. The Boy knows that toys are contained inside this drawer. We're intelligent enough to rotate the toys every once in a while, so he's finding new things in there on a regular basis. Because of that, when he's in the kitchen, he's going to (mostly) head for his drawer, because it takes less effort to find fun stuff than the locked cabinet.

2) We don't let him in the kitchen by himself for longer than it takes to walk in there from another room in the house.

Reason #2, above, is the real secret to babyproofing. No product on the market is going to allow you to have a house that your baby will roam around in by himself and not get hurt. Babies are going to get hurt if left by themselves for any appreciable length of time.

(Example: the other day, The Boy was sitting peacefully, playing with one of his chew toys. For no reason, he proceeded to "enjoy" a face plant on the carpet. He wasn't crawling, he wasn't reaching for something; he just tipped over. That happens sometimes. I read somewhere that scientists believe that babies are affected by gravity differently; or, he's inherited my wife's clumsiness. Either / or.)

The secret to babyproofing, then, is this:

Reason A: to make the bad things difficult enough to play with, that the good things become more attractive to them;

Reason B: to minimize accidents (bumpers on sharp corners, gates on stairwells, et al); and

Reason C: to delay them long enough so that you can grab them before they start playing with the pretty liquids under the sink.

Once I realized this, babyproofing became a lot easier. The Boy is - G-d willing - never going to be left alone in the upstairs - at least, until he's in middle school. Then, we'll talk. Therefore, I'm not particularly worried about the toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper and Lysol wipes under the sink in the bathroom. He's not going to be in there by himself. I'm not worried about the wine rack, behind the easy chair; he's not allowed to play behind the chair. I'm not worried about the music studio; he won't be in there by himself until he's independently practicing a musical instrument. At that point, hopefully, I won't worry about him trying to eat the iPod cords.

We installed a good baby gate on our stairs, and we don't have sharp edged furniture anywhere in the house (no end tables, coffee tables, anything like that). The television is a popular target of his, but - again - he's not left alone. I have some cabinet locks for the bathroom anyway, and a few power strip-enclosers, which I haven't yet installed. I've put outlet covers on the electrical outlets, because that sort of thing runs in the family.

(Two of my older brothers were at the doctor's office, because the older one needed an appointment. The younger one was playing on the floor quietly - first sign of trouble - while Mom was talking with the doctor. All of a sudden, there was a SNAP, and he shot across the room. Apparently, he found a penny somewhere and decided to stick it in an electrical socket.)

I'm sure that there are special things that we're going to have to do because of his chemo and such, but none come to mind, yet. We keep a fairly sanitary house - clean but disorganized - with hardwood floors, so we don't have carpet issues to worry about. We'll see.

What do you think? What babyproofing things have you HAD to do, and what things did you do that were useless?


Sarah R said...

We have hardwood floors too (no carpeting here, except for the wool rug that is in the middle of the living room floor). We have ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom. Thank goodness Andrew has never fallen in the kitchen or bathroom, but there has been a few thuds (I hate that sound, I'm sure you know it too) when he was learning to get down from standing against the couch. I just CRINGE when he falls back during play. He has good balance too, but as you say, babies have are affected differently by gravity. It seems like without warning they can fall at any random time!

the mol said...

Babies have a different center of gravity--look at those short little legs!

Musical Daddy said...

Hey - I resemble that remark!!1!! My short little legs get along just fine, thanks.