I had a play date at my house for my 16-month old daughter with a friend of friend who brought her 17-month old son. After the introductory chit chat, I led her to the our sunroom. I got ready to show the children where the puzzles were when the mom said, “You don’t have any gates in here?”
No, I don’t have any gates in there. I don’t have any gates anywhere downstairs. Except for climbing the staircase, there is really nothing I consider dangerous on the first floor. The mom looked horrified at my lack of child safety. She then asked if I childproofed my cabinets (as though my gate-less state meant I probably allowed my child to freely drink Draino), and I said, “Yes, some, but she can go in most of them.” Silence. “So, she can just walk around anywhere then?” She almost looked uncomfortable.
The truth is, I don’t understand the extreme lengths some parents go to to childproof their homes. I get the catalogs, too–the ones full of latches and locks and barriers and cushions to protect your child from things you never considered hazardous. But for me, I feel like if my child lives in a house where every coffee table has a bumper, every doorway has a gate, every hard surface is cushioned, when she goes anywhere else, she’s won’t be prepared to handle herself. The rest of the world is not a completely protected environment, so why should she learn to live in one? I’d rather have her hit her head once or twice on the edge of the coffee table than have her thinking that she’s invincible outside of our house.
But what do other moms think? Is it worth the extra gear to keep your peace of mind, or do you think your child should learn to live in an adult world?
Here are a few products even the most laid back parents might want to consider:
These outlet covers ($4) swivel to allow you to plug things in, eliminating the need to pry single covers out of sockets and remembering to replace them when you’re done.
This safety gate by Dream Baby ($45) is attractive and opens with one hand.
If you’ve ever seen a toddler climb a bookcase or dresser, you know how quickly they can tip. This furniture bracket ($5) is essential if you have unsteady furniture that could crush your child.
Besides this early and obvious disagreement about childproofing, the play date ended up fun. The kids enjoyed each other and once we moved on to discussing The Real Housewives of New Jersey, so did the mom and I. Our different takes on babyproofing is not a deal-breaker in the least. I just suggested that next time we meet at the playground.