The Babyproofing Industrial Complex

Hi Readers — Here’s a New York Times piece about a reporter’s adventures in babyproofing. She sort of laments the idea that parents hire pricey professional babyproofers as a way to feel “officially” safe.

I’d go a step further and say that in addition to safety, what parents are really hiring the babyproofers for  is insurance against guilt, should a household accident actually occur. In our blame-crazed culture, we know that no one believes in “accidents” or “fate” anymore. Anything bad that happens to a child is ALL THE PARENT’S FAULT. Hire a babyproofer and no it’s not. Whew! — Lenore

Experts agree: Do not store farm equipment in nursery. PHOTO: Darren Copley.

44 Responses

  1. Another way to spend money hiring someone to do something that’s easy and straightforward to do oneself.

    Just get down on the floor and crawl around, hunting for ways to get into mischief. Fun AND free!

  2. I find the best way to (reasonably) toddler/child proof your house is bring your friend and their two year old son over to your house to run amok. He really definitely tell you what you need to keep out of reach, lock up and keep out of sight, for a LOT less money

    But in all seriousness, what I have run into is kind of the opposite problem: I know parents who fret about the tiniest morsel their child eats, and freaks out if they so much as touch a french fry. But their house is an unmitigated disaster and a potential toddler death trap (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much). There needs to be balance.

  3. I also got the distinct feeling this writer was sitting there, thinking to herself “I need to baby-proof my apartment. How can I get my bosses at the NY Times to pay for it?” :)

  4. Wow, really? People hire others to baby proof? I should take advantage of this! LOL

  5. I fell last week and dropped my toddler. She was unconscious long enough to frighten me. The hospital checked her out and we left shaken, but well. Almost every single one of my FRIENDS has said “Oh, don’t beat yourself up, it could happen to anyone”. I wasn’t beating myself up. I didn’t know I should, since it was an accident. This fall did not take place in my house, but could you imagine the guilt others would instill in a new mom experiencing the same kind of fall in her house? Friends saying “Oh, you must feel so guilty” “Wasn’t there anything you could have done?” “Aren’t you BABYPROOFED?”

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  7. Dropping a baby is awful, but I’ll bet it’s a rare thing that a baby is dropped out of negligence. Accidents happen. My cousin had her infant son in arms and was thrown off balance when the family dog clipped her legs from behind. The baby seemed fine but she took him to the doctor just in case. She said that at least three times during that office visit, some receptionist or nurse looked at her and said, with a tone of horrified incredulity and distain, “you dropped your baby???” By the end of it she said she was strung out, unsure of whether to feel guilty or mad!

  8. I wonder… if parents babyproof to avoid blame for something happening, do the “professional” babyproofers get sued if something does happen, or do the parents blame themselves for not hiring a good enough babyproofer?

  9. Fortunately, on the other hand, when I tripped over a carseat and dropped my baby, my pediatrician checked him out, pronounced him fine, laughed, and said to me, “I have 5 kids. Me or my wife has, no matter how careful we are, managed to drop every single on of them at least once.” Weirdly perhaps, this was reassuring : )

  10. What Blake said! I wouldn’t be a professional babyproofer in this litigious society for any amount of money. Junior gets a splinter? SUE the babyproofer! Precious stubs a toe on the threshold learning to walk? SUE the babyproofer.

    Jeez, accidents happen. I was going in the house and tripped over a threshold. My 6 week old son was in arms at the time. He was fine. I sustained massive muscle injuries and bruises keeping him safe. Perhaps I should have sued the builder of the house…..

  11. okay, hold on. I consider myself FreeRange. AND I hired a professional babyproofer. let. that. sink. in.

    The motivation, however, was not to be absolved of guilt or liability, or because I’m lazy, or because I’m overprotective. Far from it.

    In fact, we’ve taught our now 22 month old twins to walk up and down the stairs (one early episode resulted in a 10 step tumble. oops!), we don’t immediately scoop them up when they trip, and they’ve been navigating those bouncy bridges at park playgrounds- without our assistance – since they could barely walk. In general, we’re pretty “Montessori” and are determined to raise independent, self-sufficient, confident kids.

    I remember at the 18 month well-checkup, our kids were trying to climb into chairs that were just a little too tall for them at the kids table in the clinic. At one point, our son fell out of the chair, onto his knees and hands. There was a collective GASP! and no less than four adults stood up. People, it was a 12 inch fall – maybe! I said “that’s okay, he’s fine” and I was talking to the ADULTS. Sure enough, our son got up and tried the chair again. But damn ,you should have seen the looks we got for not having been right underneath him! My partner and I never even stood up. We never used playpens or gate pens to contain them.

    Instead, we hired a babyproofer because both my partner and I work very long hours, six days per week, and because neither of us are very good with tools. Blows that whole lesbian stereotype right out of the water. We have no family in the area. We have a two story house. I wasn’t comfortable with a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs. And because the living space is upstairs, one opened exterior door could mean a tumble down the metal stairs, and, if they managed that fall unscathed, they’d be only 30 feet from a very busy urban street.

    Sure, the professional baby-proofer suggested all kinds of unnecessary items, which we declined – without guilt. The things we did: hardware-installed gate at top of stairs, securing two tall bookshelves to the wall in the living room (where they spend most of the day, at home with a nanny), a nifty top-of-the-door lock for the closet where we keep cleaning chemicals, one for the medicine/linen closet in the master bath, and locks at the top of each exterior door. I had purchased a few drawer locks for the kitchen (more of a convenience for us, rather than safety for them) and several slide-electric socket face plates. For $0.16/each to install what I’d already bought, they dealt with all the screws and pilot holes. The benefits of someone else doing it was definitely worth the marginal cost.

    Now that our twins are 22 months old and can open/unlock the door and deadbolt to the front door (but they can’t reach or open the top locks we had installed), and because they’ve climbed the bookshelf that would have tipped over had we not secured it to the wall, I’m VERY glad for that expense.

    We’ve had plenty of accidents at home – busted lips, bruised eyebrows, and even a fall off the changing table…onto the stained concrete. I don’t feel horribly guilty for these experiences. But I also don’t feel guilty about hiring a pro babyproofer who was able to do all in a fraction of the time, allowing my limited time to be spent taking our kids on a nature walk to the neighborhood park with that super high slide that they love so much.

  12. I’ve been teaching preschoolers for a long time now. The worst injury we ever had was when a kid fell while walking slowly on a perfectly smooth, flat floor and busted his chin open. He needed 2 stitches.

    We take basic safety precautions (like putting box cutters out of reach) but injuries are part of how children learn. I tell the adults in our classroom that our primary safety devices are our own eyes, ears and hands. Our job isn’t to prevent injuries, it is to TEACH children to avoid hurting themselves and a part of that process IS hurting themselves.

    Our mantra: “The best way to learn about asphalt is to fall on it.”

    Of the 40+ preschools in our system I’ve been told that we file the fewest “accident” reports. I’ll admit that part of that may be in how we define “accident,” but I also know that our kids are doing a good job of learning how to take care of themselves.

  13. Oh, and something else . . .

    We have started consciously teaching children (even 2-year-olds) to do their own risk/safety assessments.

    For instance, kids love to build things our of our large blocks, then try to climb on them. Needless to say, the structures aren’t always the most sturdy. We teach them to test the structure first with their hands. We ask questions like, “Does that seem sturdy enough to climb on?” We help them come up with ideas for how to make it more stable. If they insist on clambering on something even when it appears wobbly, I tell the adults to stand near them, with hands ready to catch their heads like they would a softball, but otherwise let the kids experiment. You should hear the amazing engineering conversations the older/experienced kids have about how to build things that are safe to climb on.

    With my older children I often intentionally leave things like sharp knives, strange bottles of liquids, and lighters in places where they could easily reach them in order to spark conversations about how these “tools” ought to be used and their potential hazards.

    One of my favorite moments as a teacher was the day we were walking to catch a bus, a group of boys veered slightly into the cross street as we were crossing an intersection. I made the comment, “If a car runs over you, you’ll be flat and I’ll have to mail you home.”

    One of the boys replied very seriously, “If a car runs over me, I’ll be dead.”

    Then a girl added, “And it will hurt.”

    Then another girl summed it up, “Yeah Teacher Tom, they’ll be dead and hurt. That’s why we have to be careful when we cross the street.”

  14. When my son was almost 1 1/2 we moved into a new house. Our stairs are wood and we have a tile entryway at the bottom of them. I can’t tell you how many people were SURE that he would bash his head from falling down the stairs. Well, 15 years and another 12 year old later, not one bash has occured. Why? Because I taught them to go up and down the stairs safely.

    Rachel – I see your point, but geez, why can’t the kids be taught not to climb a bookshelf? Baby proofed or not that’s just not acceptable behavior.

  15. You have to catch them trying to climb the bookshelf and intercept it before you can teach them not to climb it.

    (Says the mom who is trying to teach her 1 year old not to pull hair. So far, progress is slow.)

  16. It seems to me that different kids require different levels of babyproofing, and a “pro” would have to over-babyproof a house to make sure to cover all various types since she/he wouldn’t know the child’s inclinations.

  17. Rachel, there is a huge difference between trying to protect little Junior and Precious from the world and two busy moms hiring somebody to come in and install cabinet locks and baby gates.

    I used both. My kid had this thing about constantly emptying cabinets of ALL their contents…everything…all cans, bags, brooms, pots, pans and did so silently. It was amazing. Dad hits the reading room, mom is doing a load of laundry and Junior is taking the kitchen apart, cabinet by cabinet. After three such episodes, cabinet locks were installed.

    We also locked the refrigerator. My son apparently thought that cracking eggs on the floor and mixing them with rice or kitty litter was FUN!

    Baby gates kept my boy from dismantling our computer system or unloading desk drawers. There were a couple of outlets we had to cap as well. At 5 years old, he finally got shocked once and that was enough to make him stop sneaking off to stick things in sockets.

    Remind me to tell you about my kid’s spackle eating episode and a frantic morning call to the Poison Control Center. I swear I heard them giggling.

  18. In general, we don’t toddler proof our house; we house train our toddlers. I hate this notion that you have to bolt every stinkin’ thing you own to the ground. Most of this is complete B.S.

  19. We used a lot of gates when our grandson was tiny. We used no gates when our own kids were little in the early 90s. Part of the reason was, as another commenter brought up, was that they were drastically different in personality. The grandson was walking at just over 9 months. The youngest walker of our kids was 13 months before full momentum was achieved. The other was almost 15 months. He’s the most competent of boys, but he’s a watcher. He doesn’t ever just dive in. The grandboy just dives in. Because he was walking so early, he was really too young to comprehend the ‘reasons’ things were dangerous. The gates kept him somewhat contained, away from stairs, and indoors. Now, by the time he was 13 months, he could climb right over the things, wander up the stairs to our room, and dismantle our nightstand drawers, so we had to come up with new strategies. :-)

    He’s almost 4, has not had gates for ages. He manages the stairs, can plug in the christmas lights that we keep draped over large windows, makes his own pb&j sandwiches as well as his turkey bologna and cheese (with mustard), pours his own milk, and feeds the cats, the dog, and fish. Not a stitch or broken bone yet.

    And the kid with the most injuries recorded? The very cautious, careful, watcher of a boy. He’s cut his forehead open on a wall corner tripping over his own feet, he stiffened up when falling on the playground on the 4th day of kindergarten and broke his arm, he fell trying to stand up in a wagon and got stitches, he had a chair fall on his head at the end of the day in 2nd grade… there’s something to be said for charging forward bravely I think. And not overthinking the risks.

  20. I didn’t babyproof much. I did put those plastic plug things in the unused outlets and install a gate at the foot of the stairs for some time when the kids were about 1.5. I also used a big “superyard” between my oldest’s 1st and 2nd birthdays. Like everyone, I have my own reasons. My kids’ bedroom is downstairs, while mine is upstairs. Once the kids could climb out of their cribs, they would want to come up the stairs to get me, and when that happened, I wanted to be cognizant of it. The playpen was so that I could work for stretches of 1-2 hours if necessary, or take a shower, while the kids entertained themselves. Except for the outlet plugs, all “babyproofing” stuff was removed before the eldest was 2.

    My real babyproofing involved teaching the babies five simple rules: don’t touch wires, don’t open the “bad cupboards” (there were 2 “good cupboards” they were allowed into), don’t touch the bricks (in front of the fireplace), don’t touch the Xmas tree (it’s up all year in the kids’ play area), and listen to Mama. The rules changed with age – “no bricks” was eventually replaced by “don’t touch the toilet water,” etc. The kids understood and followed the rules as young as 11 months old (shortly after I took custody). Honestly, I have had very few preventable household accidents despite the fact that I never did 99% of the stuff they say. The only thing I remember happening in my home was my younger daughter falling flat on her face and getting a fat lip, at least once a week, and sometimes 2x a day. No babyproofing could have prevented that. Better she learned to walk more sturdily in the house than fall on her face outdoors come summer.

  21. Yes, I think the thrust of the concern here is not particular choices in babyproofing being bad, but the idea of a professional whose job it is to spot every potential hazard and come up with a solution for you. Some things are probably unnecessary in all but the most extreme cases (e.g. a special needs child or a disabled parent who literally can’t stop a small child from many dangers) but many things that are necessary for one are unnecessary as an overall rule. Yet the whole “babyproofing” mentality that would hire a professional not only to do the work (a la Rachel) but also the thinking for them usually trades in a one size fits all mentality of “anything potentially hazardous in any degree must be shielded.” And that’s not healthy for kids, parents, or society.

  22. As a single mom who pays a various people to do a variety of things for me, I don’t want to rush to judgment if someone goes to an expert for advice on something she may now know much about. If I have one hour that I can spend either on internet “babyproofing” research or interacting with my infant or resting, hmm, I might decide to do the research, but I can’t diss someone who chose one of the others. If I went that route, it would be for the purpose of efficient information gathering, and later delegating the work of actually buying and installing the stuff. I would still be the one deciding what is and isn’t right for my household. Just like when I have hired maids, a nanny, handymen, etc., I rely on their expertise to make good suggestions and do the work right, but I make the real decisions.

    My nanny was so non-free-range, we really used to rub each other the wrong way. But when it came down to it, I was the one paying, so she needed to learn my way. Today, she has another nanny job, and she tells me how proud she is of what she learned from me about what babies / tots are capable of. But it was always an uphill battle to convince her that while she had the official “experience,” I was the decider.

  23. I agree with ejly: kids appear to vary widely in impulse control and desire to do dangerous things, so it’s unfair to condemn certain practices as “overprotective” without knowing the details. Kids and even adults frequently do things they know they shouldn’t do, even things they know are dangerous, because of a moment of inattention or impulse. And telling people that they should “just train their kids better” is the sort of “parent guilt-trip” that we’re trying to avoid here, no?

  24. I was raised by an overprotective mom and I suspect my tendencies are in that direction, but I’m a skeptic when it comes to all the newfangled must-have safety products the baby industry has come up with over the years.

    I installed the outlet plugs and some cabinet locks and a camouflaged bumper around the sharp stone edge of my fireplace hearth (which I just realized is still there, despite my kids being 10 & 12) but never carried antiseptic hand lotion or used those personal placemats in restaurants.

    As several commenters have noted, it comes down to common sense and a little bit of research, which is easy enough to do online. I suppose it also requires walking a fine line and being watchful without overdoing it.

    It all makes me wonder how we ever survived….

    http://bit.ly/9hJvVB

  25. studies show…

  26. We barely childproofed our house, but we are more careful about Edna Junior’s room as she is now in a “big girl bed” and can roam her room under her own power (we use a baby gate at night).

    While I suspect I would not hire a pro for our current digs, the last place we lived had ancient floor heater we referred to as “the baby-cue.” It was metal, very hot and right smack in the center of the living/dining room. Having a gate installed or built by a pro would have been preferable to anything I could put up given the size and placement of the grill.

  27. This isn’t a response to the current topic, but I wanted to share another “overprotective school board” story, since there have been so many recently. I was just perusing the newspaper of a town in Nebraska where I used to live and found this:

    http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/article_6d1b59f6-1bd5-11df-bdc0-001cc4c002e0.html

    Thankfully, the school board appears to be willing to reconsider its new policy!

  28. As long as you do the obvious (don’t store the sharp knives in the bed), it’s a matter of letting the kids hurt themselves a little so they learn.

    For example, both of my kids have stuck a finger on the hot stove burner. Once.

    After a talk and ice pack, I discovered they can really learn.

  29. @Robin – the kids have now been taught NOT to climb the bookshelves, yes. But it wasn’t always so, and we’re not home with them. At the time, we were going through significant illness with daycare and trying out 3 nannies before settling on one. The space had to be consistent when the caretakers were not. It was just a thing. Particularly with twins – one very outgoing and danger-seeking, the other shy but sneeky climber, it was not always easy to keep them in one place to “teach” them. We’re better now! But as with doors, think how many times you have to repeat those teachable moments. I believe we’ve said “feet on the floor” to avert climbing onto tables no less than, oh, five million times.

    Like I (meant to) say, we weren’t hiring them for their expertise, but to do the installation on the minimal protections we wanted in place given that we would not be the ones at home to care for the twins most of the time. Didn’t stop them from recommending things, though.

  30. I spotted this article last week in the NYT and just clucked over how sad it seems that parents have to hire a ‘babyproofer’ for their homes. It may work for some folks, but I still believe in the common sense approach. Things you THINK the small ones will go for (playing with uncovered outlets — which, despite my precautions, never happened!) vs. what DOES happen (my daughter’s penchant for climbing) are two different things. We did have baby gates for the stairs until we felt comfortable about our daughter navigating them safely. (Although at age 6, she still thinks it’s great fun to go ‘bumping her butt’ down the steps, which are carpeted.)

    FWIW: We did put safety locks on the under the sink cabinet (when I felt it was time to remove the lock, gave the standard lecture/reminder that this cabinet ‘does not have kid things in it’). I didn’t get alarms for the doors (we keep doors locked as needed, or they shut tightly), toilet lid locks, or safety devices for the stove (always was told to turn in pot handles as a standard precaution). I kept the blind cords shortened not just for the safety of my child, but also for my (very curious) cats, who found them a novelty. Let’s not even get into the ‘bumpers’ for edges of furniture — these were promptly pulled off and were great fun for my daughter.

  31. With 3 kids, the biggest challenge I’ve found with babyproofing is something no professional could prevent – older siblings leaving choking hazards all over the place. We’re still working on getting the older kids to understand just how far a determined one year old can reach.

    She’s also gated off from the books because she really and truly does love a good book – mmm, mmm, delicious. It figures my youngest would be the most into putting everything possible into her mouth.

  32. I am a potter, I collect pottery, and I never put it away when my children were small. This horrified many people who came to my house. Surely my rambunctious kids would break my precious handmade ceramics, mortally wounding themselves in the process, and then just how would I feel?
    well, folks, not only did they not break any pottery when they were small, but they understood how to handle delicate objects at a very young age, because I taught them how. I did put medicine and dangerous chemical cleaners out of reach, and install a lock at the top of my front door after a escaped toddler incident. But we, and the grandparents did the minimum of life altering babyproofing.
    My kids are now 14, and 16 years old, pottery collection is still intact, mother in law’s royal doulten figurines? still intact. kids? still intact, and can behave in a china shop!.

  33. My husband is a glassblower. There are glass sculptures aplenty, not to mention pottery all around our house. Sad to say, but I am the main culprit when it comes to broken items of value in our house, not my 4 -year old.

  34. Has anyone else found that thier children are more fascinated by those stupid outlet covers than the outlets themselves?

    My babies never really noticed the outlets until I stuck covers on them. Once I did, they wouldn’t leave them alone. On top of that, the stupid things were nearly impossible to remove when I needed to plug in the vacuum. I usually had to use a screw driver to pry the stupid things out, which seems sort of…umm….unsafe.

    Oy.

  35. In case you hadn’t noticed, I think those outlet covers are “stupid”, lol.

  36. I have to say that I like the outlet covers. Maybe it’s because when I was little, the family dog got electrocuted (to death) by messing with an outlet. It may be psychological, but I am willing to deal with the aggravation of occasionally taking the cover off. Though, if I am going to vacuum, I’m more likely to unplug something else than take off an outlet cover.

    I leave my kids on their own (in a separate room) more than many parents, and when you have 2 together, they seem to get more “ideas,” so I am playing it safe on this one. I didn’t cover all the outlets, just the ones where my kids generally play alone. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t stunted their intelligence or their imagination. (And no, my kids never got particularly interested in the covers, but I know some kids do.)

  37. Along the lines of the potter’s and glass blower’s experience, I will note that everyone thought I was insane to let my kids play in the vicinity of the Christmas tree. When I hired their nanny in January when they were about a year old, her first question was – when are you taking down the [fake] Christmas tree? My answer: never. The kids know not to touch it, so don’t let them buffalo you. She didn’t believe it (so of course the kids took advantage). For a while she kept moving the lower ornaments up to higher branches, and every evening, I’d move them back down. Eventually she figured out that the kids were capable of following a simple rule (apparently a new concept for her).

    I do realize that different kids have different abilities to control their impulses. But that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t at least make an effort to engage them in making safe choices.

    In my mind, childproofing was a matter of convenience. I was unwilling to put locks on my cabinets and toilet seats and covers on my doorknobs because (a) I find them unattractive and (b) I don’t want to have to go through some complicated procedure every time I open a door or go to the bathroom. In addition, those gadgets delay kids’ learning about how things actually work. But again, to each his own. If my child would not learn to stay out of the “bad cupboards,” I obviously would have had to take additional steps.

  38. Outlet covers – hate them. In the UK they sell them too. And I’ve had several people ask me when I’m going to get some. But the crazy thing here is they actually make the sockets *less* safe!

    UK sockets already have safety features built in so that accidental electrocution is incredibly difficult. Outlet covers overcome one of the main features and can be inserted so that it is easier to electrocute yourself. Crazy.

    Still, my mother-in-law gave a startled look when I said I wasn’t getting any. This is the woman who did not use stair gates and simply trained my husband not to crawl off the edge of the rug because they had a precariously balanced TV in the lounge! (Unfortunately our girls seem to have more of my genes than his because I can’t seem to train them to keep their hands off *anything*. We will be strapping our bookcases to the wall, but without hiring anyone to tell us to do it. :-).

  39. A friend of mine said recently that she will hire a baby proofer for their two-bedroom apartment. I told her that they need to do a few common sense things, like securing the bookshelves, moving cleaning liquids to upper shelves and so on. These are things that anyone can do. I would personally probably hire someone to install a good gate if I had a place with stairs, or if there was something else specially dangerous. But since I grew up in a house where hunting rifles were hanging on the wall in plain sight and the ammunition were in an unlocked drawer, I probably wouldn’t stress too much…

    About the bookshelf discussion: It’s actually recommended that bookshelves are bolted to the wall, whether there were kids in the household or not. They can be a bit unstable, especially on an uneven floor / wall. And if a full bookshelf falls even on an adult, it can be disastrous. It’s even a better idea in an earthquake-prone area. (And bolting does not prevent from teaching kids not to climb on bookshelves.)

  40. Side rant: I wish they made bookshelves that were designed for books, rather than shelves which are too deep, not strong enough to take the weight of a full load of books without warping, and unstable when used for their stated purpose. Ever been in a bookstore with properly designed shelves? They’ve all got a slight backwards tilt, very sturdy.

    Personally, I want built-ins. We will slowly be installing them over the next several years. It will take quite a number of them to hold all of our books.

    Back on track, our little monkey is fenced in at the moment because he’s still very advanced physically and not so much verbally. I don’t mind him climbing on the coffee table, though it drives his daddy nuts. But his destructive tendencies mean that I would have to be watching him every single minute of every day and right now I don’t have the stamina for that.

    I had to take away his board books after he tore one too many into shreds. And he *likes* them. I know he’s going to outgrow this stage but right now it’s hard. (He’s been walking for over a year and isn’t yet two. Amazingly extendable arms, too.)

  41. [...] The Babyproofing Industrial Complex Hi Readers — Here’s a New York Times piece about a reporter’s adventures in babyproofing. She sort of [...] [...]

  42. I understand that some working parents need help.

    Sometimes though, I feel like parents have been convinced by marketing hype that they are incapable of doing simple things. I’ve known moms who are college graduates, who can juggle 10 different things at once, but who have been convinced that ‘they’re not handy’ and thus cannot even begin to think about installing anything that involves a screwdriver. They are convinced that it is really hard, no way they can figure it out, and if they do it wrong their kid is going to die a horrid death. I’ve been at friends’ houses when my kids were small where the parents had bought a safety device but hadn’t installed it because “I’ve got to wait for my husband/father/handyman to do it” In a couple of cases, I said “Do you have a screwdriver? I’ll do it for you!” and it was done in 2 minutes. Don’t fear the tools!

  43. A couple of years ago a visited friends with little ones. After a day of traveling, what with eating and drinking at weird times, plus driving an hour from the airport…I really, *really* needed to use the bathroom when I arrived. I dropped my bag in the guest room and headed for the bathroom, only to discover that their was a lock on the toilet! Being reasonably mechanical, I managed to get it open in time, but it was close. ;)

    Would have served them right if I’d had to use the sink!

  44. I think the thing with professional babyproofers is the idea that they will reveal to you the hidden and mysterious hazards that you as a mere layperson would never figure out. Which is just silly. But if you can hire someone else to screw in a few things then more power to you.

    Someone else above pointed out a secondary problem that comes out when your house is not the throne of one precious infant. After you have a second or third child you just can’t maintain a house in a state of perfect safety. How do you have one child potty training while another is locked out of the toilet? Or have older kids serving themselves from a locked refrigerator. The baby-proofed environment becomes increasingly unrealistic.

    And of course, the risk of drowning in the toilet is infinitely smaller than being killed in an auto accident for children but you don’t see people saying keep your child out of cars. Baby-proofing is about creating an artificial sense of control rather than any rational approach to actual risk levels.

    Funny you should mention cats though. I’m always removing “cat chokies” from around the house myself and putting those blind cords out of their reach as well. For that matter the cats are always trying to climb the book cases too….makes you think.

    I will say that developmentally it is probably unrealistic to believe that you can tell a 3 year old to not drink the poison bathroom cleaners and expect it to stick. Or to stay off the furniture or not chase a ball into the street or any of those things. They’re just not developmentally able to remember and follow that kind of rule. It’s good to make the rules, enforce the rules but expect it to take a long time to actually sink in and be effective. By the same token, it’s just not possible to predict or anticipate the possible hazards that life presents. That’s why accidents are …. accidental. In the end, just being there and developing parental intuition is probably the most effective method of babyproofing.

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