And So The Revolution Begins (With Flipping Through a Parenting Magazine)

Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world — going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, pointing out just how absurd so much of the “advice” is.

For instance, in an article called “Bug Off,” all about how to “keep pesky insects from spoiling your summer,” the magazine said, “Sweat and body heat also bring on the bugs. Bathe the kids before heading out and try to keep them calm.”

That’s GOOD advice? That’s terrible advice! Oh my God:  Bathe the kids BEFORE sending them out? And then keep them CALM? Doesn’t it make sense to do the EXACT OPPOSITE? Bathe them when they’ve come IN, after they’ve RUN AROUND LIKE BANSHEES? The magazine’s advice is the worst of both worlds!

Another article gave a list of what you should take with you on vacation with your baby: A portable crib, a baby monitor, mesh stair gates, faucet covers, door handle covers, plastic zip ties “to secure cabinets,” an inflatable tub AND  a night-light. If that’s too much to schlep, the article suggests you RENT WHEN YOU GET THERE.

Hey, while you’re at it, get a loan! And a sherpa! And a U-Haul!

And here’s a tidbit from my favorite article, this one about how to increase your child’s confidence: “After you have tucked your child into bed and he’s almost ready to drift off to sleep, tiptoe into his room. Speaking in a low voice, slowly say, ‘I…believe…in…you.'”

It’s like some Soviet-era manual on mind control!  Maybe you can also whisper to your almost-sleeping child, “Clean…up…your…room” and he’ll wake up with an uncontrollable urge to vacuum!

Anyway, all this is by way of introducing a little note I got today from a mom who’d come to my magazine-flipping lecture. I’m so happy when people “get” my point: that we have to take a step back and try to figure out what our culture is REALLY telling us to do, think and buy. And then they start looking around. — L

Dear Lenore: I can’t tell you how many stupid things I’ve seen recently that have reminded me of your talk. You want crazy? Take a look at Fit Pregnancy magazine and read the headlines that freak out parents before their babies even arrive!

I guess it shows up free in all the doctor’s offices. It’s all “eat this to prevent birth defects” (because if you don’t your baby will be deformed and it’s your fault), do this to avoid miscarriage (because if you don’t, you’ll lose your baby), here’s how to stay looking fit (because if you’re a fat mom, everyone will hate you), how to handle the total lack of sex after pregnancy (because actually your husband will divorce you if you don’t put out), what to look for in life-threatening conditions, and on and on. One after another.

I read the scary and awful headlines out loud to the nurse’s assistant. She was horrified and responded by pulling every one of their magazines and throwing them in the trash. She hadn’t ever read the magazine before, but once she saw it, she sure didn’t want pregnant moms in that office to deal with the negativity and blame. Yay!

Thank you for starting some lovely discussions around here! — A Seattle Mom of Three

"Mommy, why does that magazine tell you you're doing everything wrong?"

74 Responses

  1. I just started getting these again – I’m 45, a grandmother, and my youngest baby is 9. Hated, hated, hated them, almost as much as I hate hearing young mothers spout off the nonsense they read from them.

    (I’m the oldest of 8, have 5 of my own, 2 grandkids, and 10 nieces and nephews and counting. Yes, we’re free range! You just can’t have that many kiddos and not be.)

  2. I remember seeing advice about avoiding bug bites and stings: they’re apparently attracted to bright colors, pastels, and flowery prints so avoid them.
    Have the writers of such drivel ever been in a girls’ clothing department?! Are we supposed to dress our daughters in camo?

  3. Details of your Australian visit please??????

  4. I’d like to slap a sticker on the front of certain parenting magazines that says: “Warning! Burn magazine before reading. Reading WILL cause useless anxiety, purchases of frivolous safety gizmos, and will NOT result in better parenting. Exercise caution when reading!”

  5. Three cheers for Lenore! I am going to point these articles out next time I am at the pediatrician’s office. Great stuff.

  6. Hey, I have a better idea–why not just run around outside with a bug-zapper before allowing your kids outside to play? After all, you can’t risk them getting West Nile Virus, or Lyme Disease, or minor itching and discomfort, can you?

  7. I’ll defend some of the “vacation” advice.

    I don’t think having a baby monitor is such a bad idea. If you have an infant and you put it to sleep in the hotel room, and you want to go out and sit by the pool and stay they until the infant wakes up, what’s wrong with a baby monitor? It actually is the opposite from helicoptering over the infant 100% of the time.

    The same goes for “baby proofing” devices (zip ties, etc). Not all of these things are necessary for protecting the baby but protecting the venue — when we visit a new place with our 2 year old toddler, the first thing we do is move all of the easily breakable stuff out of the way. It’s either that, or lose the deposit. I haven’t gone so far to bring child locks, but I’ve been to a few places where I wish I could keep a certain door closed all the time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a free ranger, but not every device is necessarily evil.

  8. For a perfect example of the what our children have lost, look at the British children in this clip. This was not very different in Australia, except our urban environment was nicer and our kids had easy access to natural open spaces.

    This is looks like footage from 1960’s England, in a industrial working class area, with main industry being large factories, and mums at home in small houses with tiny gardens, and large families.

  9. Yikes, and I thought we overpacked for trips when my oldest was an infant. Apparently I brought way too little.

  10. For some perspective, when I travelled with my baby, I brought a few diapers for the trip (bought more when I got there), clothes, a handful of toys, and a receiving blanket to protect the bed mattress from his spit-up.

    He’s a bit older now, so I probably wouldn’t bother with the blanket.

  11. I think the caption to the picture says it all. Confident parents are better parents.

  12. The zip ties and the baby monitor went with us whenever we travelled with the boys when they were under 2. I also had a small ziplock that stayed in the dopp kit with baby motrin, bandaids, a nose bulb, and thermometer. We travelled a lot. The grands loved having the monitor. I loved not having to shoo my children from doors and drawers. The other items are overkill. If you’re in a hotel, leave one of the dimmer lights on in the bathroom and crack the door – voila – nightlight. Most hotels have cribs for kids. If you’re REALLY worried about the faucet, rubberband a handtowel over it once you’ve run the water. My rule of thumb has always been, pack everything you think you’ll need and then take half of it out. Chances are you’ll never miss it. And if you forgot something, it’s unlikely to be anything you couldn’t pick up at Target.

  13. This reminds me of my first overseas trip with my daughter when she was almost 1. I lost my bag of nappies/diapers even before we boarded our first plane. A 12 hour flight without nappies and the flight attendants clearly showed their reluctance to hand me more than 3 of their emergency ones. She had bad nappy rash for a few days… But hey, it didn’t cause any lasting damage!

  14. Ack! I can’t believe you came to Seattle and I MISSED IT! I am so bummed! Though since I gave birth to twins a mere two months ago, I may not have been up to going out to a lecture. What am I saying? I made it to the Hunger Games opening weekend, I sure as hell would have moved mountains of babies to come see you speak. This is a reminder to myself to start stalking your speaking schedule. Sounds like it was a great talk.

  15. I just read in a PARENTS magazine column called “It Happened To Me”…a little girl’s hair caught on fire while she was blowing out birthday candles. A nearby adult patted out the fire. Nobody was injured. Now, nobody wants their children to catch fire…but this woman actually suggested that NOBODY EVER USE CANDLES AGAIN on a child’s birthday cake. Nevermind that this is a rare occurrence and that there are always adults around when children blow out birthday candles. DO NOT EVER LIGHT ANOTHER CANDLE ON ANY CHILD’S BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!!
    Oy…I despise any/all parenting advice. Trust your instincts. The End.

  16. I remember reading one of those parenting things in the waiting room while pregnant with #3. Basically it said that you needed at least $3000 of gear to have a baby.

    What BS. I picked up a year’s worth of clothing for about $100. I found a crib used for $25, and yes I checked for recall. We didn’t need a high chair for a while, and since we were cramped, I didn’t get one. I bought a brand new car seat. I bought a few diapers new, but mostly got used. I wanted to carry my baby and a friend lent me a sling. I got an umbrella stroller for later for about $10. I think I spent about $300 at the very most (including maternity clothes.)

    I did not have the latest in strollers, toys and stuff that she would not need. Someone did give me a huge stroller…I didn’t use it much because it was so big in the car I had no room for other things. Most of what they say parents “need” is pretty much useless. Need, a bouncy seat so I could eat, diapers, covers and pins, rash medicine, and mostly, the thing that money could not buy….sleep. I am not sure of the slant the mag had, maybe they wanted more parents to put babies up for adoption.

    After I had the first, it got even cheaper. Now, now that my kids are of an age that they wear out clothes before they can be handed down, need bikes, well, the costs are going up. They certainly do eat more now than they did as babies.

  17. I stopped reading parenting magazines about five years ago when my oldest was about three years old because I started noticing how stressed out I would get about nothing. When I stopped, I became a much more relaxed mom.

  18. “I am not sure of the slant the mag had”

    If you’d checked closely, I’m sure you would have found advertisements for a great many of the products discussed in their articles.

  19. I started getting these magazines just out of thin air. I don’t remember signing up for them, but they arrived. I flipped through them as I had heard some moms say how wonderful the advice was. Once I flipped through a couple, I was appalled by the advice. Everything I do and want to do with my son is going to kill him, hospitalize him or reduce his chance for success in life. It’s like I’m putting him in a cave full of guano and he will use it for sustenance. Oy yoy… Get a grip people; apparently some of us moms have a good idea of how to raise children as the human race keeps on going.

  20. I stopped reading parenting magazines when my oldest (now 13) was about 6 months old. There was a little blurb in there that said using a nightlight would cause near-sighted-ness. I was worried, until I read the disclaimer – it wasn’t adjusted for the PARENTS being near-sighted. It was then that I knew they had nothing to offer me.

  21. The “I….believe….in….you….” bit makes me giggle. The bathing kids before you go out advice is just insane. It’s like, these parenting articles can’t see the full picture. They’ll take one problem and tell you how to avoid it, without mentioning all the problems their “solution” will cause!

    On a (partially) related note, I was reading a food blog recently, in which the pregnant blogger mentioned having enjoyed a non-alcoholic beer with lunch- people were jumping on her for that! Non-alcoholic beer still contains alcohol, they were quick to say- which is true, but you would need eight non-alcoholic beers to equal the alcohol content of one regular beer. Do people seriously think an eighth of a serving of alcohol poses a danger to a fetus? Perspective is being lost.

  22. If you think these are bad, you should take a look at the books and mags for multiples. I have never found ONE that said “occasionally, multiple pregancies are not fraught with repeated DISASTERS.” Now when I meet someone carrying twins I make a point to tell them that my twin pregnancy (to term) and delivery (non-surgical) were problem free – boring even – and they always look at me with such relief. Then I tell them I even refused a lot of the invasive tests and monitoring and I usually lose them. (Because who is a mom to ever argue with a doctor, even if they are treating you like you have some kind of disease just because you’re growing two babies!)

    Also? This is perfection: “It’s like some Soviet-era manual on mind control!  Maybe you can also whisper to your almost-sleeping child, “Clean…up…your…room” and he’ll wake up with an uncontrollable urge to vacuum!”

  23. I just remember the moment I threw one of those magazines (which they just kept sending me for free without my having subscribed for years, which supports my theory they’re advertising propaganda, not actual magazines) across the room. It said something like, “it’s never safe to leave a toddler alone in a room, no matter how well baby-proofed it is.” I think I screamed, “SOMETIMES I NEED TO PEE!” as I tossed it.

  24. Yep, the bug advice is just insane! I once observerd a mother camping near us telling her kids: “Oh no, don’t go into those bushes again because there’s ticks in there” after which she proceeded to spray her kids top to bottom with a toxic bug spray. The ticks here are not harmful to people, just annoying. Not so sure about spraying your kids’ faces with DDT though… Maybe she did read that advice too because she bathed her kids twice a day. Only for them to get themselves covered in dirt 5 minutes later…

    My daughter has always loved bugs. She catches butterflies and beetles and all sorts of creepy crawlers just to look at them. The only thing she won’t touch is spiders, which is pretty sensible thing to do if you grow up in Australia. lol

  25. Burn Before Reading….

  26. I worked for what I imagine to be the most ethical magazine ever. And yet, it had advertisers. And yes, there were some clever ways we “acknowledged” those advertisers in what appeared to be straight-up editorial content.

    Point being this: parenting magazines are not about supporting parents. They are about sustaining themselves as businesses, and to do that, they need advertisers more than they need subscribers. Advertisers are happiest when their products or services get “planted” in “editorial” copy.

    From what I can gather, yes, parenting magazines are keeping their advertisers very, very happy, while keeping parents very, very worried! Blah.

  27. “I… believe… in… you…”?

    Please forgive me for being frank and somewhat rude, but that is creepy as shit.

  28. olympia: Although non-alcoholic beer is legally allowed to contain up to 0.5% alcohol (ten times less than ordinary beer) the exact same rule applies (at least in the US) to any beverage that’s not legally regulated as an alcoholic beverage. Yep, same limit as for sodas (“unhealthy”, BOO!) and for fruit juices (“healthy”, YAY!, though actually fruit juices contain more naturally-occurring alcohol than soda, or even most NA beers. But of course, it’s Natural, so it can’t hurt you).

    Note that you can’t assume that NA beer “on average” contains 0.5% alcohol, since if that were the case than about half the NA beer sold would be in violation of the law. It’s actually a lot less. It’s actually impossible to get a detectable increase in your blood alcohol level by drinking NA beer, for technical reasons involving basic human physiology (to make it short, the concentration is so low that your liver will destroy it faster than your GI tract can absorb it).

    Also note that “near beer” and “NA beer” are two completely different things. “Near beer” contains roughly half the alcohol content of regular beer, and is regulated as an alcoholic beverage. Unlike NA beer, it actually is possible to get drunk on it if you drink enough. However, members of Alcoholics Anonymous routinely refer to NA beer as “near beer” and incorrectly consider it intoxicating (any effect they may perceive is purely placebo effect). For that matter, AA members generally avoid consuming candy that’s sweetened with “sugar alcohols” even though such sweeteners are chemically unrelated to the alcohol in booze. It’s all about word magic.

  29. Saying “I believe in you” at night — hmmm, didn’t that used to be called “prayer”? Back then the “you” was God; nowadays, the mags want you to think the kids are God. And all the shit you buy to appease them is like all the goats that used to be sacrificed in the Temple.

  30. OMg… How have we managed to survive thousands of years without this nonsense. Whats so special about todays kids that we need articles telling us how to boost their confidence. I haven’t met one child under the age of 15 who lacks confidence or doesn’t think they are special. However I have come across numerous kids who have no respect for their parents, the law or others. We need to take a serious look at what we are breeding here.

  31. Mud/dirt (lots of it) is a cheap and effective bug-bite protection and sun protector (factor I do not know…), both has been used for eons by many living creatures on earth, and is still in use in some areas on earth!

  32. I found a book called The Safe Baby at the library in the children’s section on a cart labeled “good books for parents”. I grabbed a post it and wrote something to the effect of “this book will drive you insane. Pick up the book ‘Free Range Kids’ and relax!”

  33. The person who advised parents to have their kids bathe before going outside obviously never had boys. The real measure of how much fun a kid had outdoors is the amount of dirt on his pants or knees.

  34. LOVE the part about what to take with you on vacation! I am 8 months pregnant and my husband and I and his immediate family are all going to Mexico for a week this summer – when the baby is about 6 weeks old! Can’t even imagine what these people would have to say about THAT.

  35. I can’t imagine bathing your kids before they go outside. When I was young my mother joked that I could find dirt under ten feet of snow. My daughter has never been afraid of getting dirty, probably in part because neither her father and I gave her a hard time about it. Keeping her calm would also have been counterproductive as if she didn’t get a change to run around like a little hooligan she was unable to settle down when it really mattered – like in class or at bedtime!

    I’ve also heard that being freshly cleaned and smelling of that nicely scented soap can attract bugs.

  36. The parenting advice in these magazines is akin to the sex advice in Cosmo; inaccurate and totally impractical. The point of these is to fill up pages and sell products. I enjoy the occasional magazine, but they’re definitely not to be taken seriously. It’s a shame that so many mothers take the advice seriously. It’s all part of our “blame the mother for everything” culture. It’s even more extreme during pregnancy because every single thing you do can theoretically affect the baby somehow. And then after birth, every single negative outcome in the child’s life is somehow tied to something the mother did or did not do. It’s not the same with fathers, because apparently the child’s life is automatically better by the father’s mere presence.

  37. It’s all about advertising. It’s not in these magazines’ business interest to share what one poster did above, about how you can shop all sorts of thrift stores and rummage sales and be realistic about what you need and spend $300 on new baby gear. If you were a baby monitor company, would you want your full-page ad running next to a story about how baby monitors aren’t really necessary? Of course not.

    It’s the same thing with bridal magazines, I’m finding out. I bought one of those ten-pound magazines and read an article about the trendiest dresses. I noticed that every dress named in the article had bought ad space.

    There may be parenting magazines out there that have less of a slant towards buying things, and less emphasis on pleasing their advertisers. I really don’t know. But just be careful whose advice you take.

  38. Bea –

    I teach 6th graders and you are correct, kids have an abundance of confidence. It is the one (and only) thing they never lack. What they don’t have is intelligence, decorum, forethought, creativity, inquisitiveness, kindness, patience, compassion, or curiosity. But they are totally confident in their lack of those things.

  39. Thanks for making me LOL! The thread I see running thru so much of this ‘advice’ from experts in parenting magazines (and our culture in general) is that the child must be the center of our universe, everyone is judging our parental skills, protect and defend at all costs – including their independence. Why are we so surprised after raising these ego-centric, over-protected, entitled, narcissistic kids when they appear lost and can’t hold down a job?

  40. “If you have an infant and you put it to sleep in the hotel room, and you want to go out and sit by the pool and stay they until the infant wakes up, what’s wrong with a baby monitor? It actually is the opposite from helicoptering over the infant 100% of the time.”

    People all over the world – though not much in America, lately – do that just fine without baby monitors.

  41. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  42. @linvo
    Did you ever see that Lysol commercial where the mother sprays Lysol all over her toddler’s toys ? This implies that household bacteria is far more deadly to your child’s digestive tract than the chemicals in Lysol. Am I crazy for doubting this implication ?

  43. I went to the Jezebel article Caro linked to, then hit the home page button. Front page top image, a little girl in the grass arms exuberantly in the air. And the words “Free Range Children”

    Sadly the article is about how little kids are getting outside these days, especially girls.

    http://jezebel.com/5898951/were-ruining-our-girls-by-locking-them-up-inside-all-day

    I’ve seen reference to the story before though, and I do wonder how much the problem was the researchers asking if the kids get out “every day” … well no, sometimes we got to an indoor play area, due to nasty weather. Some times she is sick. But most days yes we go play outside. What column does that parent get put in?

  44. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  45. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  46. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  47. “Sweat and body heat also bring on the bugs. Bathe the kids before heading out and try to keep them calm.”

    And if they refuse to keep calm and sit still when they should be running around and playing while they’re outside in the sun, they obviously have ADHD and need to be put on medication STRAIGHT AWAY!

  48. I used to get parenting magazines way back in the day. I think I stopped actually reading them around the time my oldest was 2 or so (my other kids would have been 1 and an infant). The articles made me sick to my stomach–partly anxiety that I was doing things wrong and partly because I thought the advice was crazy.

    The traveling with baby thing…shakes head. I had 3 kids under 3 and we never needed all that stuff. We mostly stayed with family, though. The stuff we brought were essential things: clothes, diapers, bottles and formula, baby food if they were on it (but only enough for traveling), a favorite stuffed animal and blanket, maybe a few toys or books for the car and the pack n play. I’ve never needed more than that. And all that stuff can be bought where ever we are going if we run out. The pack n play was more about convenience, though. Made things easier for us to keep the youngest toddler contained.

    And my kids don’t use nightlights and I don’t understand advice acting like EVERY kid has to have a nightlight to survive.

  49. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  50. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  51. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  52. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  53. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  54. That’s good advice….for a fish. LOL. Take kids outside and keep them calm? She’s obviously deranged.

  55. What “pesky insects” are going to spoil our summer? I live where there are flies, mosquitoes, bees (not killer ones), ants, ticks….what I would consider ‘routine’ insects. Not one, not even a bee that stings, has ever had a chance of spoiling an entire summer.

    Yes, I know that Lyme disease could spoil a summer. But if that’s what this article is referring to, how about some specific and useful advice directly related to ticks?

  56. The only really pesky insects here are fire ants, and mosquitoes. So just spray on mosquito repellent, and go outside. And watch out where you step. My oldest just was down from Dallas, and she was telling her boyfriend that they were “wild children” growing up in the outside, wandering through the wooded area, going to the pond, etc.

    As far as bright clothing goes, you’ll attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and honeybees. I don’t think I bought a single one of those parenting magazines, as they seemed rather strange.

  57. “And here’s a tidbit from my favorite article, this one about how to increase your child’s confidence: “After you have tucked your child into bed and he’s almost ready to drift off to sleep, tiptoe into his room. Speaking in a low voice, slowly say, ‘I…believe…in…you.’””

    And then watch your little darling sit bolt upright in bed, terrified that the monsters in his/her closet are whispering in the night. Then all of the hard work you put into getting him/her down to sleep starts all over as you try to convince your child that it was just you whispering confidence building nothings into the bedroom… HELL NO. My kid’s about to fall asleep and I ain’t goin’ nowhere near her room!!

  58. I went for zero kids to mother of a toddler and preschooler when I adopted siblings. Having not been indoctrinated into the ‘baby gear’ culture I blissfully and ignorantly went about things like potty training and eating without any kid specific gear. My daughter learned to go potty on the regular toilet (I guess I’d SEEN the kid potty chairs, but it never occurred to me that I needed one), nor did I baby proof much except putting dangerous stuff out of reach. Never bought a stroller or a booster seat (although I did rent a stroller when we went to Disney). It was never a conscience decision, honestly, I’m kind of a consumer so I probably would have enjoyed buying that stuff, but by the time I realized I ‘needed’ it, I didn’t need it anymore.

  59. When my son was about 18 months or so, we stayed in a hotel that had those lever-style “knobs” on the door and it also unlocked when you pushed on it. I guess most hotels have these now, but the door also didn’t have one of those high-up latch thingies, and wouldn’t you know it–my little guy was, unbeknownst to us, strong enough to pull open the door.

    So, I was in the bathroom and my husband was getting dressed in the other part of the suite when I heard the door open and close. We sprinted out of the room and found that my son had pressed the elevator call button and was waiting for the doors to open. I have no idea where he was going or what he would have done once he got there.

    Sort of a scary moment (that we laughed about as soon as we got him back to the room). But we didn’t go buy extra equipment to deal with it. We just became more aware. I think we also propped a chair against the door at night. Not that he couldn’t move the chair (because he could), but the noise was likely to wake us if we missed his stirring to begin with.

    Another time, we had room with a gas stove with knobs right at eye-level for a toddler. We simply pulled the oven out and turned the gas off. Problem solved.

    We do take a nightlight with us, though. They’re worth the buck, IMO.

  60. Someone on another message board once said, “I didn’t child-proof my house, I house-proofed my children.” That makes a lot of sense–teach your kids that stove elements burn, knives are sharp, glass, porcelain, and china are breakable, and so on, and so forth, and you can then take them to other people’s houses without worry.

  61. This all reminds me of what marks one of the worst parenting moments of my life. My first was 2 days old, breast feeding was not going well and we had gone to see a lactation consultant. There on the wall was a life size poster of a child blissfully at breast with the words Oncology 101 across the bottom. It may have been intended as good parenting advice but in the state of mind I was in at that moment, I collapsed in tears convinced that my failure to breastfeed would result in my baby getting cancer. Thank goodness for my sane husband who told me he trusted me over a stupid poster. So much for “expert parenting advice”.

  62. I agree with Anne-Marie… please let us know where in Australia you will be… Melbourne??!

  63. LOL, I have to fight with my kids to get them to bathe before CHURCH for heaven’s sake. Yeah, I’m going to get them to bathe before they go outside. Pull the other one.

    And before which time they go outside? Nice weather, day off, they are in and out of the house 250 times a day to dig in the dirt, decide to build something, track 10 tons of mud through the kitchen to the basement to get tools and wood, track back, go upstairs to the bathroom to leave muddy foot prints, return to the outdoors, repeat until bedtime.

    Maybe I will start whispering You…love…to…vacuum… in their ears while they sleep.

  64. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  65. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  66. [...] Hi Readers! One of the ways I spread the Free-Range Kids word is by giving talks around the country (and world going to Australia at the end of the month). Two weeks ago I was doing this in Seattle where, for a romp at one of my speeches, I flipped through a parenting magazine, … Read more: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ [...]

  67. One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever seen would have to be “bugs are attracted to hot and sweaty people – therefore, make sure that your children don’t get hot or sweaty outside so that bugs won’t bite them”.

    We DO have spray, roll-on and cream bug repellents. Yes, they are all commonly available for reasonable prices in Australia. Also, only certain types of places have a significantly upsetting population of stinging or biting insects, and also certain times of day (dusk near still water is bad, esp. for mosquitos).

  68. @EtobicokeMom, I must be dense; I don’t even GET that poster. If it was pro-breastfeeding, wouldn’t it make more sense to have the Onocology 101 label under a bottle-feeding baby?

  69. @EtobicokeMom, I think I have read reports saying that breast feeding lowers chances of cancer. So if you didn’t breast feed, your child would be fine…except after he/she loses his/her mother to breast cancer. STILL a stupid message!

  70. buffy, I think the idea is that a basic means of “oncology” is to breastfeed, to reduce cancer risk. Prevention rather than treatment, as it were.

    And I think CrazyCatLady is right — it’s meant to point toward lowering the risk of breast cancer, not cancer in the child. But I also agree that it is a very obnoxious approach.

  71. I was flipping through a pregnancy magazine and saw an ad for the stupidest product I’ve ever seen: Belly Bumpers. It’s like a gym mat you wear over your giant pregnant belly to protect it from sharp corners or something.

    Anyone who’s ever been pregnant knows that there is a layer of skin, a layer of fat, a layer of muscle, and amniotic fluid between the outside world and the inside world. A pregnant belly is not some sort of super flexible balloon that will pop when too much pressure is applied.

  72. The thing is that as your belly grows, you’re not used to the shape of it from day to day (your spatial awareness takes time to catch up), so you do bump into things. BTDT.

    BUT SO WHAT? It’s gently bumping into things. You don’t need to buy a product to spare yourself the teensy-weensy trauma of bumping a rigid belly into a doorway. Sheesh. Is there something beyond “first world problem” for something that’s ridiculous even by THAT standard?

  73. Whoa, that magazine sounds like it would provide for some great entertainment value – thanks for sharing :)

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