My son has recently started walking and has quickly shown us where our baby proofing has faltered. One of those places is in the construction of our house, not due to our lack of outlet covers, low shelves, or removal of tiny, bite-sized items. Our problem is the entrance to the basement: It doesn’t have a door. The basement is located around the corner from the living room and it’s a tight corner without much space. As my husband has pointed out: “They’re the kind of stairs that you’re going down, sometimes whether you want to or not.”
On the right side of the stairs is a wall of cabinets, which we love for storage. Because of these cabinets we can’t screw a gate into the wall, so we have a gate that we have to remove and replace each time we go downstairs or we have to climb over the gate (my signature move). That has worked so far, but our little guy has already started climbing on the furniture. We’re scared the gate might be next. Past the gate he would find stairs with linoleum covering, aluminum strips, no banister to the left, and a cement floor for a landing. So, yeah, it would be a tough fall.
Now we’re faced with making a decision of whether we rely on teaching our son not to touch the gate, practice any climbing on the gate, and to continue taking tight left turns when he runs out of the living room or we find a carpenter and put up a door, which means we lose some of our cabinets and makes an already tight spot a lot tighter.
My husband and I always swore we wouldn’t be those parents with toys all over the houses, every corner padded, every piece of furniture bolted all because there’s suddenly a baby. But, toys have overrun our living room, we’re using a Pack and Play to barricade a tall book shelf, and the fire place hearth is padded. But, that’s where we draw the line. We don’t have straps holding up our tv or bookshelves, we don’t have locks on our cabinets, and our coffee table is uncushioned. How much do you baby proof? When is your house bolted, cushioned, and secured to the point that it’s no longer yours?
As our son has become mobile we are constantly watching him, covering sharp corners with our hands, reminding him no when he tries to touch the tv, or standing in front of a cabinet keeping it closed with our leg. We’re using ourselves for baby proofing. At what point do you just give in? A kid cracks his head on a table, does that mean he learns to be more careful? Or will his first injury send me scrambling for every strap and corner cushion I can find? My husband and I were kids who grew up without wearing bike helmets, but that doesn’t mean we won’t buy one for our son.
I know the right answer, the responsible thing to do. But, then there is that part of me that questions why we can’t teach him to be respectful of our rules, learn his boundaries, and reinforce yes and no. Yes, I tend to be the one asking, “Why not?” No, this is not a question I dare ask when it comes to my son’s safety. And to be fair, there have been mornings when I have been straddling that gate in my towel, carrying a pair of pants and a shirt to iron, and then I have that moment when I lose my balance and I’m positive I might fall. My husband is convinced I am going to take a tumble down the stairs one of these days and he’s right. What I’m doing is dangerous and I don’t want my son doing it – Period. So, I guess I have the answer. Sometimes the safety of a child does trump storage, resale value, and over all aesthetics. Anyone know a good carpenter?
This is an original post to Chicago Moms Blog. Lisa H. blogs at Hannemaniacs. Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.