So back when I was pregnant with my first and we were shopping for things like highchairs and bibs, we came across the section with stair gates and cupboard locks. A little look at each other and an eye roll. Surely if you are looking after your precious bundle then you won’t need all this safety equipment? Surely only overprotective parents go to these lengths to secure their home? Well fast forward to when first baby was 6 months old and pulling himself up on the furniture. ‘Oh my god he was just an inch away from cracking his head off the corner there!’ Cue racing out to buy foam corners for the tv unit, a fireguard, playpen and cupaboard locks! Our house was like Fort Knox I’m not afraid to say that I am definitely one of those mums that errs on the side of caution!
Once he was up and about he started getting into the bathroom so a lock went on the bathroom door. He pulled out every bit of food from the kitchen cupboards so safety locks went on every door. I had left the window open to let in some air and he was up in the couch trying to get out! Safety catches were purchased and affixed to every window in the house. Some people laugh and tell me I am way too over protective. Some people tell me in a snidey manner that they just didn’t do stair gates/safetey locks. Some people even have the cheek to tell me that I am clearly not in control as a parent as the kids need to learn what’s right and wrong and so making everything safe teaches them nothing! That’s fine. It’s a completely personal choice and I’m sure one that is determined on your experience with your child.
You see I have been to peoples homes whose children are not inquisitive, who have fear inbuilt so they do not attempt the crazy shit that my son does,so they would have felt no need to go to any lengths to secure what has not been a hazard. Or else their kids truly learn from one fall and don’t attempt it again. Not so my child! If he falls and hurts himself he just tries a different way and I’m sorry but I’m not willing to take the risk of him seriously hurting himself when there is something I can do to minimise the risk. (Overprotective mummy!) When my son went into a toddler bed at the age of 2 we moved the chest of drawers out of his room as I knew at some point he would attempt to open the drawers and climb them. So next year once we decide on a theme for his grown up room, the drawers will be put back in and possibly secured to the wall!
With my daughter it was different, we had got a bit lax and forgotten the extent you hav to have eyes on the back of your head. We also broke the playpen so now have a stairgate across the livingroom door! She is taking far too many lessons from her brother and tries to keep up with him. He is also an added danger as he tries to lift her or run into her with one of his many toys!
So yes there will be those who think that I should be glued to their sides and then I wouldn’t need to worry so much about risks in the house. There will be those who call me paranoid or morbid for thinking the worst. But when you hear in the news about toddlers getting strung up in blind cords, breaking bones falling down stairs and having furniture topple onto them, I will always be glad I have done as much as I can to make them as safe as I can. Of course they will attempt to find other ways to harm themselves!
Lessons learnt from experience…
• Never leave knives on the kitchen worktops once your children are on the move. Put them away or if dirty to the back of the sink behind the taps. While making lunch I’d left everything lying one day and my son took his plate through to the kitchen and came back through holding a massive chopping knife. Me and my mum were sitting on the couch gobsmacked as I crept towards him slowly to retrieve it before he hurt himself.
• A playpen is one of the most wonderful things a first time mum can own. Once the baby starts moving things get tricky! You cant leave them to go for a shower or make dinner like you used to. We got a playpen for the livingroom and I could put all his toys in it when I needed 5minutes. It gave me peace of mind that he couldn’t hurt himself and gave me time to get on. I couldnt leave him unattended in the highchair after 6 months as he would rock it about so much that I was scared he would knock it over.
• Top tips- if you are going to use stairgates then put one across the childs room door instead of at the top of the stairs and do it before they can get out of the cot then you will be used to it.
• Start keeping matches, medicine and scissors in high cupbards well before baby is on the move to get used to putting them away up high-not the matelpiece as they start using stuff to climb on and the last thing you want is for them to start cutting chunks of their own hair because they got hold of scissors! (And even when you think there is nothing they could use to climb on you would be wrong-my son stacks cushions from the couch on top of one another to get to what he wants!)
When you’re going away, take hair bobbles to use as cupboard locks and gaffa tape to put over plug sockets. Great for lodge and hotel breaks.
• Start locking your front door and put a hook up close by for the key. Dont leave keys in the door as one day your child will either learn to open it and try and escape or else pull the keys out and post them through the letterbox leaving you stranded..yes it has happened!
So we have drawn the line at making them wear full face helmets and padding – although I won’t deny it has crossed my mind!
In the space of two minutes (the time it takes to run to the toilet/answer the door/run upstairs, a toddler can unleash serious carnage that often leaves you wishing they could put that energy to better use.
So how do you approach safety? What have been your experiences?