Baby-Proofing: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Protecting Little Explorers

My house has been reasonably child-proofed years longer than I’ve had children. We always wanted our home to be a welcoming and safe place for friends and family with little ones, so breakables are up high, chemicals are locked away, and outlets are not exposed. When B came along, we added a baby gate here and there (mostly to corral him so I could accomplish something in one room) and the brick fireplace hearth got a foam bumper. T has been crawling for months, but he gets speedier by the day and he’s recently taken up “cruising” along the couch and cabinets so I know it won’t be long before he’s off and running! In my mind, there is some gray area between protecting your child from obvious hazards and letting him explore the world around him. Err on the side of caution or watch baby like a hawk? Depends on the situation.

Cruising the kitchen

A new view of the exersaucer

How Often Do You Tell Your Child No?

I’m not of the camp that believes “no” is a dirty word, but I also don’t want it to be the only word my sons hear all day. I’d rather have a kid-friendly home than fancy furniture and gallery displays, so my kids have pretty free reign in the house. In fact, a guest recently commented, “There are toys in every room!” I’m not sure whether she was amazed that we allow the toy sprawl, or merely surprised, but toys in the kitchen mean dinner gets cooked, toys in my bedroom mean laundry gets sorted, toys in the dining room mean we get to eat after we feed the kids. B knows his boundaries by now, but even 4-year-olds forget the rules and go for the occasional bounce on the couch or climb up the counter. T is just learning the boundaries, and testing them every time I turn around. Babies only begin to grasp the meaning of “no” around 7 months, and don’t have the cognitive development to fully process its use until nearly 18 months, so redirects and distractions are the most successful for T, while B usually gets a question to remind him he knows better. (Where do your feet belong?) That doesn’t mean “no” goes unspoken, but I try to reserve it for dangerous or urgent situations in hopes that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Off Limits for Exploring
Don't Touch, It's Hot (Touch-and-Feel)
I’m not sure if B is naturally very curious or if I created the “why” monster myself by trying to explain actions and expectations – it’s one of those which-came-first kind of situations. I hope that he (and soon is brother) is more likely to follow rules if he understands the reasoning behind them. Sometimes his insistence for an explanation is a little infuriating, but that’s part of the age, right? A book that was first B’s and has been passed down to T is Don’t Touch, It’s Hot by David Algrim. It came from a discount store, but the message is great and the touch and feel, scratch and sniff pages are very entertaining! Each page features a food or cooking area that may be too hot to touch. The oven is hot, but the smell the tasty pepperoni when the pizza cools! The boiling pot is hot, but blow on the curly, stringy spaghetti and it’s ready to enjoy! The repetition in the text both drives the message home and allows pre-readers to learn the pattern and read along. B still thinks this book is a lot of fun and now he’s the experienced teacher issuing the “Don’t Touch” warnings.

Appropriate for: babies, toddlers, preschool

Linking Up With:
Tackle It Tuesday
What My Child is Reading this Week


Nikki August 4, 2010 at 4:44 AM  

Thanks for visiting my site and sharing that wonderful recipe. My favorite children books are the Bob books series for early readers, Little Critter, Berestein Bears! Oh there are so many wonderful books!

Susie August 4, 2010 at 5:53 AM  

That's an important tackle! It's hard being a parent. You have to protect and teach and sometimes those are conflicting goals:-)

Braley Mama August 4, 2010 at 8:08 AM  

We did the basic baby proofing too, but I also think is important to teach kids boundaries. But I do live in a very small home, so this makes it easy for me to know what my kids are up to all the time. That book looks like a great one for my 3 year old:O) Thanks for sharing!

Raising a Happy Child August 4, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

Thanks for joining WMCIR! My husband is staying home with our daughter, and he is a stickler for order. He did a terrific job teaching her early that some things are for adults only, and she doesn't handle things that are "toys for adults" - like remote controls and such. This makes it easy to visit our child-free friends provided that we bring a couple of toys and books along. We always tried to let her explore freely - now we teach her to clean up every night. It's a battle, but it does get better :)

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