Are You Surrounding Your Child with Too Much Care?
You’ve been anticipating the arrival of your precious child and need to make sure your home is a safe and secure place for her to grow and thrive. But can there be too much baby proofing – too much of a good thing?
Yes – when it involves parents bubble wrapping their infants and toddlers in a world of blandness and artificially controlled environments. Have you seen the latest craze? Safety helmets for kids learning to walk – and these kids have no known medical conditions or concerns. Products like Thudguard are designed to protect your children’s heads as they learn to walk from the inevitable bumps and bruises. We had those falls in our home – and have the scars to prove it - but it didn’t impede their ability to learn to walk, it only made them more aware of their coordination (or lack of it). Safety helmets for walking – when you’re only 2 feet tall – is like a seatbelt for the sofa (yes, mine fell off of that, too).
Another example of this extreme baby proofing – putting window decals on sliding glass or French doors so that your child doesn’t accidentally walk into them. Really? If you have a house with a toddler living in it, how is it that your glass stays that clean, anyway? Give it 3 hours and the glass surface will be covered in drool and snot – instant window decal. Even if you have a cleaning woman or are OCD about your glass, it probably won’t take too terribly long for your child who is living in your home to figure out where the glass doors are located.
Baby Proofing That Makes Sense
So sometimes we go a little bit too far as loving parents, pulling out the bubble wrap and the foam padding. However, there are several practical and necessary precautions we need to make to help our children safely explore and grow in our homes.
Beware of the Batteries
A report from 2009 showed that every 90 minutes in the United States a child goes to the ER because of battery injuries. Dr. Gary Smith says that in less than 2 hours of ingesting a battery the results can be severe medical injury or even death. Many of these are the result of those small circular batteries – button batteries, which can be found in
- Key chains
- Music boxes
- Remote controls
- Musical cards
- Even baby and toddler toys
Be aware of which items in your home contains these button batteries and either keep them out of reach or secure the battery cover (we resorted to duck tape as an extra line of defense on our remote cover).
There are on average more than 1.2 million possible poisonings of kids under 5 years of age in the United States each year.
- Keep the Poison Control Center number near every phone – 1-800-222-1222.
- Keep all cleaning products, medications, and even some cosmetics or beauty products, out of reach and secure the doors and drawers that contain them with safety latches or locks.
- Be aware of the toxicity of any houseplants in your home.
- Pay attention to those lead warnings, especially on toys and games designed for children. Our pediatrician runs a lead level check with typical physicals.
Manage the Magnets
Those fun and engineering toys that older siblings love can pose serious risks to young children. Magnets, when ingested, can perforate the intestines of your child and causing life-threatening medical emergencies. Building sets and refrigerator magnets might be the more obvious concerns, but there are also magnets in jewelry and craft sets.
- If you have children who are prone to putting things into their mouths, keep those items with small magnets out of reach.
- Regularly check your toys to make sure the magnets are secure.
- If you suspect your child has swallowed a magnet, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
Baby Proofing Basics
- Turn your water heater down to 110 degrees to prevent burns when your child decides to experiment with the faucet during bath time.
- Get down on your belly or hands and knees and explore the world from your child’s vantage point.
- Use doorknob safety handle covers, especially on doors that lead to stairs or areas of the home, such as offices and work-rooms that are not baby proofed. We actually changed our lever door handle to a round one for the door that led to our basement stairs, and then added a safety handle cover when needed.
- Use outlet covers.
- Use baby gates that are installed correctly according to manufacturers’ guidelines.
- Keep window blind cords short and out of reach – they pose strangulation dangers.
Helping your baby grow and develop doesn’t have to mean bubble wrapping every corner or bump. We had our fair share of cuts, bumps, and bruises as our children learned to coordinate their steps and the reaches. However, children need to learn in a real world as well. I remember vividly always telling my toddler daughter to stay back from the stove (a good idea) because the pans were hot, but then one day watching her thrust her finger right up to the pan as I stood only inches away and burn herself. She later told me (after she stopped crying and the ice helped to cool her finger) that she “just needed to see for myself” and later. “You were right.” I wish she had never burned her finger, but I am glad that she had enough sense of exploration and curiosity to learn from her experiment. At the end of the day nothing can protect our kids – even bubble wrap – like watchful, active, involved parenting.