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Monday, June 13, 2011

Home-proofing my babies

Hi y'all,

Wendy over at Choosing Love and I were playing and I told her in passing that I choose to home-proof my babies instead of baby-proofing my home. She said I should do a blog post on it because, apparently, I made a controversial decision here. I am going to share with you what I did and you feel free to glean whatever wisdom you desire. Please remember that even if you disagree to be kind in doing so.

I read an article, ages ago now, about an American mother who had been transplanted to France. The French women visiting her home told her it looked like an insane asylum with all the rubber padding and other safety measures. Obviously, this was partially a cultural difference, but it got me thinking. There were not all these safety items when I was a kid and I am still breathing with life and limbs intact. So, what did I really need to baby proof and what is superfluous?

For My Little Princess we used baby gates for the stairs, outlet covers for the plugs, cabinet locks, and door handle safety things. My mom taught her to do stairs at nine months old and she was very proficient. We quit using the gate at the bottom of the stairs, but I was not comfortable with that toddler run and removing the top gate so we left that until we moved when she was two and a half. I did relatively normal, but not outrageous baby proofing of our home.

Mr. Chaos Little Man was a different story. All we have done is use outlet covers and baby gates on the stairs. And, to be honest, I do not know that we need the outlet covers. The kid has never really been super interested in them, except for the fact that we plug the vacuum cleaner in there and he looooooves the vacuum.

This method of home-proofing my babies is more work than just "baby-proofing" your house. As a stay-at-home mom this was doable for me and is not the right option for every family. You have to be vigilant to teach them not to play with the hanging wires behind the computers, tvs, etc. You have to teach them which cabinet in the kitchen is ok for them to pull out everything in and play with and sit in and which are not ok. You have to teach them not to play in the toilet bowl. It requires time and vigilance. It requires time outs, rewards, and re-direction. It is not for everyone. For instance, unless we invite the children into the kitchen they know not to cross an invisible line in the entry way. It has taken time and much re-enforcement, but it has been so worth it.

Do you want to know the main reason I decided to do it? I realized I will not have control over my child and their environment at all times. We are going to visit family. Great-Grandma is going to have glass breakable within reach of my toddler. A college babysitter is going to have a bunch of wires from their electronics well within my baby's reach. I wanted for my child to stop when I say stop and understand that when I say no touch I meant it. I want the reaction to be instantaneous. I do not have control over every tiny thing that will come their way and I want for them to be able to go into those environments know what is ok to play with and to listen when I say no. I have home-proofed my babies not just for my home, but in all homes using my this approach. Can you see the awesomeness of my logic? :) Admittedly, this has been easier with my first than my second. We are still working on this listening, etc. It is all about consistency and immediate correction so that they learn and learn quickly.

Both my children are still breathing with life and limbs intact. :) And my house does not look like an insane asylum...



  1. So glad you decided to write a post about it! I don't think it really is a controversial decision but it definitely is a decision point for parents. ~ Wendy from Choosing Love

  2. I agree totally. We have done a little of both. We have used cabinet locks on the chemicals, door handle covers, and a fridge lock before. Other than that we spank the hand to teach no touch. As of now though we no longer have any babyproofing stuff. When they were little we moved extremely precious or valuable stuff up high and taught lessons with other things. They will get into things and break stuff no matter what you choose to do so in my opinion it is better not to make your house look crazy in the process!

  3. lol, i thought outlet covers and stair gates were baby-proofing! We pretty much do the same thing, only we do have cabinet locks under our bathroom sinks where we keep most of our cleaners. That's it - everything else the girls have learned through many many reminders of what they can and can't do. :)

  4. I'm glad you posted this, I'm interested in trying this with my 6 month old, but am having trouble finding literature on it. I know it can work, it worked for my nephew. And I want to do it for the same reasons, because I can't control her environment all the time. And I see how my friend's kids act when they come to our house, you can't have anything out that they won't get into and I can't live like that, hiding everything I own.

    I don't know if she is too young to understand but it is probably a good idea to start now. Today she put a stereo cord in her mouth (no teeth yet) and I pounded the floor in front of her and shouted NO and she was startled and started crying, like traumatized, in pain crying. I feel mean, but I feel this is better in the long run.


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