As a parent who has survived the baby years, a common question I get asked a lot is about how we went about baby-proofing our home.
The difference between our first and second child was quite different. The reason, we learned what was actually needed. Making baby safety a priority is a no-brainer for new parents, grandparents, friends or anyone who will be taking care of the little ones.
But what should be the focus?
My advice, don’t turn your home into a prison or obstacle courses and barriers. You really should never have the baby out of sight other than sleeping, so gating up the house seems like a bit much.
Think of your senses when putting together your baby safety plan. Sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.
You should be able to see your baby without any trouble most of the time. Early on they are not going anywhere, so this should be easy. But if you need eyes on the prize all the time (we are talking 3am), a video monitor is the way to go. We never had one, but the idea sure is cool. All you need to do is roll over and grab the monitor. It’s like grabbing your phone but instead of checking Facebook in the middle of the night, you are actually doing some parenting.
Kitchens produce good smells and bad smells. Let’s be honest, we are all not Jamie Oliver. So when you are cooking bacon for example, you don’t want the grease splattering on the little guy or girl who just crawled to your feet. While baby is playing in the room next to you, throw up a baby gate in the doorway so there are no surprise bacon incidents. One thing I learned, babies are amazing at moving when you don’t think they will. These gates will also keep out pets, friends, cousins or anyone else you don’t want near your cooking.
It’s the middle of the night and you think you keep hearing your little guy crying. It is probably your imagination or your neighbour next door. Want to be sure, just hook up a simple baby monitor. If you are not into visually spying on them, I suggest listening for problems is the absolute minimum you should do. For us, our second boy had such great lungs, he kind of made it unnecessary as we could hear him down the street when he got going. As a parent, your ears are very important, and it’s okay to get a little help for those times when your brain is not working right.
As yes, little hands wanting to touch everything. You don’t want to curb that. But you do want to make sure they are touching safe things. I have seen parents turn their home into a fortress. You should not live like that. Again, a lot of baby-proofing in not needed if you are watching. We went with simple things like covers for electrical outlets and fasteners for low drawers. Learn from your baby as they are all different. If they start going for something they should not, address the situation as needed. My last piece of advice on the touch angle, corners and heads don’t mix well, so keep an eye out.
Kids get sick, in fact you ideally want your kids to get sick (colds etc.) When it comes time for medicine, focus on the taste and things will go much smoother. These days they make medicine so tasty I want to eat it (and I am not even sick). Fruit, gum, chocolate, candy and other yummy flavours have babies forget it is even yucky medicine. Both our boys would resist heavily until that first taste hit their tongue and then they gobbled it up. So go out and buy some and have it ready before they ever get sick. Then you won’t have to make a drug store run at 2am like I have done in the past.
So for parents like us, what do you recommend for baby safety? Did you change your ways from child to child? What do you think is actually needed?
For the parents-to-be, what is your plan? Are you ready? Invite a baby over to help point out all the holes in your system.
Remember, if you are watching and listening to your baby, that is the best baby safety advice I can give. But I know it, we all get tired, brain-dead and need help. That’s why you invest in some of the things mention above. Don’t rely on them to be the first line of defense, that’s you.