Being a parent in this modern age can be really confusing. We are surrounded on all sides by advice and suggestions on how to parent and how to do it well.
From what vitamins to take in our third trimesters to how many hours a dad must spend bottle feeding, there’s a lot to digest.
And when it comes to the safety of our children, one of the biggest areas that we have to tackle is child proofing our homes.
How worried should we be? How thorough do we have to be? Should kids be allowed to get hurt and figure out how to make good decisions themselves?
The role of protective parenting and the freedom to get hurt and learn are areas discussed by child experts and parents, both of which we can learn from.
What do child experts have to say about how much we need to worry?
When it comes to our children getting hurt and how we as parents need to worry, to prevent and respond to these situations, the general consensus is balance.
While there have been waves of parents calling for hypervigilance, often known as helicopter parenting or the ‘freerange’ movement, at the end of the day experts call for balance.
While helicopter parenting has been shown to have detrimental effects of child development later in life, psychologists say acting too aloof may have just as many negative consequences.
Psychologists say that balance is needed. While experts from every sector say that child proofing your home is a good idea, parents can only ever do their best and it is likely that our children will still have ‘ouchy’ accidents.
Child proofing is about preventing the opportunity for anything serious to happen so that as a family, everyone can grow, develop and thrive without fear.
It is a good idea to go through your house and figure out the areas that are ‘accidents waiting to happen’ yet putting foam on every hard edge may prevent children from learning and developing an awareness of their surroundings themselves.
What do hospitals have to say?
Golisano Children’s Hospital in NY has been looking after children for decades and they have created a great starting point for parents that are looking to child proof their home.
Get Into Your Child’s Head
The experts at Golisano advise parents to think like their children. Get down on your hands and knees and figure out your home from their perspective.
What would you be able to get into? What do you think they would like to pull down and have a chomp on?
In The Kitchen
It’s a great idea to never allow your child to roam about the kitchen unsupervised. Of course you don’t have to be in there with them but perhaps sitting close by with the ability to look up and check on them from time to time.
The team at Golisano also advise to:
- Turn all pot/pan handles inward on the stove.
- Secure oven door with an appliance latch.
- Install knob covers over stove knobs.
In the Bathroom
From sore fingers caught in the toilet lid to slipping on wet water there are some things that you can do to make the bathroom a safer place.
- “Never leave your child unsupervised in the tub.
- Place a rubber, non-skid bathmat in the tub.
- Secure the toilet lid with a toilet latch.”
The House At Large
It can seem a daunting task to try and create a safe place in your home from little tyrants that seem to be able to get into everything!
Calisano suggest the following approaches to help with the accident prevention in the home.
- “Cover all unused electrical outlets with plastic covers.
- Keep all appliance and lamp cords hidden and in good repair.
- Secure all unstable or top-heavy furniture to the wall (i.e., dressers, bookshelves, etc.).
- Use doorstops and door holders to keep children from pinching their fingers.
- Install a fireplace grill and keep it in place while fireplace is in use.
- Keep all cleaning supplies, medication, and other chemicals out of the reach of children and stored in locked cabinets.”
Additionally, if you have a flat screen tv that isn’t mounted, make sure that it is extremely secure in it’s base and unlikely to tip over, even when pushed by tiny hands.
At the end of the day it is likely that your little one will still stub their toe on a door frame or decide to eat soap while in the bathtub.
As parents all we can do is try our best to create as safe a place as possible.
While knowing that there will come a time where we have to explain that soap isn’t for eating and running like a crazy chicken through the house will have consequences.
And of course always being ready for a feel better cuddle.