Can a home ever really be Baby Proof?

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The name's Mouse, Danger Mouse

The name’s Mouse, Danger Mouse

I was terrified of the day my baby would start crawling. Our house which, prior to having a baby, seemed a perfectly reasonable place to reside, now resembled a Field of Danger and Bad Things, and I couldn’t imagine any other way of keeping him safe than camping out in the garden.

I responsibly consulted my baby book, nearly fainted with shock and anxiety at just how lethal the average home appeared to be, tried to throw away our plants (poisonous, who knew?), was told by my husband to calm the hell down, so instead hid the bleach, bought a couple of stair gates, and crossed my fingers.

Then the strangest thing happened – he crawled, and everything was fine. Yes, we had to keep an eye on him. Yes, he had a weird obsession with the toilet; but actually we found life with a mover and shaker was so much easier than with a static one.

After months of needing pretty much constant attention, our little human mostly lost interest in us once he was on the move, with cupboards to raid, remotes to break, and doors to crawl into, he had his hands and head full of fun missions to complete. I used this to my advantage, cooking, tidying and even managing to straighten my hair once or twice, whilst he wreaked havoc and broke stuff worked on his sensory development and coordination skills, and learnt about cause and effect.

Cupboard and toilet locks were so effective they worked on me too – I couldn’t get to the beans for two weeks or use the downstairs loo, and the top stair gate allowed me to have a quick shower or sort the washing whilst my son crawled back and forth across the landing, repeatedly, whilst gabbling ‘Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah’ – code I think for ‘This is wicked!’

Things were surprisingly easy, and we all enjoyed the freedom his new skills brought us, despite warnings from various people on how:

‘You can’t leave them for a moment!’

‘You need eyes in the back of your head!’

‘Don’t let him out of your sight!’

I of course took these heeding’s very seriously, listening intently whilst making dinner, checking my email and packing the changing bag, as the baby banged together some spoons and tried to climb into the washing machine. I had just started to wonder what the big deal was, when he learnt to stand.

Oh Dear Lord.

We were very proud. For about half an hour.

All of a sudden, nothing was out of reach. Shelves were scrambled up and pulled, DVDs tossed around, TV screens smacked, and lamps upturned. Not to mention the fact that, although he stood very tall and proud, he was not so efficient at the sitting back down. His methods of retreat being:

The Splits
The Spectacular Collapse
Or, my favourite, the ‘I’m stuck’ wail.
It went something like this: ‘Waaaaahh Ah. Ah. Ah. Waaaahhhh’.
At which point, I would help him to sit down, he would smile a brief thanks, and stand back up again.

So things did get a bit hairy and I finally understood the warnings. Moments I am least proud of in those early mobile days are:

• The time he fell out of bed
• The time he climbed the stairs unattended
• The time he pulled the hoover on top of him

Remarkably, he was completely unharmed by any of these incidents, seeming more like a nine-lived cat than a baby. I, of course, rotted in Mummy Guilt Hell for an eternity (or a week or so), tried to persuade my husband to move to a bungalow with padded floors, and haven’t vacuumed since. We had established that our baby was a thrill seeking parent terroriser with super human strength (does milk really do that?) and we clearly needed to up our game in the safety stakes.

It just seemed impossible though that as parents we could prevent every potential tumble or mini disaster, yet still allow our son to grow and explore, build his confidence and learn about consequences. I started to wonder if we were already doing what we reasonably could, and if any more would be overkill. This may sound like the slapdash theory of one lazy Mother, but I have found so often that by attempting to save him from one thing, I lead him to danger with another. Like most days when I put down my tea to stop him raiding the bin, pulling the cat’s tail or shimmying up the radiator, it results in a mad dash and squabble to reach my steaming, hot mug before his cunning little hands do. In fact, this happens so often that I am starting to wonder if he plans it, or if maybe I drink too much tea.

I of course supervise him, and don’t intend to stop, but I don’t want to hover (or hoover) either. Is it so terrible to hope that he will learn, eventually? As he races along, we are understanding that there are some things we can teach him – when he’s in the mood, and some things we need to remove, hide or swallow. I’m not convinced that the padded bungalow would, after all, be right, and of course would never prepare him for the dangerous, dirty and fun things outside of it that the world has in store. Maybe all we can do is learn from the knocks and near misses, whilst safeguarding against the big stuff as much as possible.

Slips and falls are in their own way essential to life and surely shouldn’t stop us, or our babies, from getting stuck in and having a good explore. Except where the licking of garden slugs are concerned. I really can’t get down with that, baby.

How did you manage with an active tot and only one pair of eyes and legs? I would love to hear any words of wisdom or, failing that, any confessions to make me feel a bit less rubbish!



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16 thoughts on “Can a home ever really be Baby Proof?

  1. I have two year old twins and our old house was a bit of a nightmare. The girls would pull books off the book shelves, open the TV cabinet and all sorts! Our new home is 100% baby proof! Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

    • I have literally no idea how you safeguard two mobile babies, I would be useless! The thought is making my heart race a bit 😉 Thanks for setting up the #binkylinky, such a great idea and I’m enjoying discovering different blogs.

  2. Love this post!!!! Your writing is so funny and you have really captured those moments when your little one starts moving!!! My then 18 month old fell down a few stairs once as I had ran out of the room to get something. I can honestly say I was in more tears than she was and she was completely unscathed…though because she was talking she seemed to take particular delight in telling anyone who would listen she had fallen down the stairs!!!!!! What she failed to add was that it was only a couple…but I was mortified!!!!!

    • Thanks so much! You feel just awful and so responsible when things happen to them don’t you? Even though, as you say, they are completely fine, we are really not! Poor you having your little girl tell tales on you!! Very funny though. I am relieved my son could only babble… He was probably desperate to grass me up for my lame Mothering!!

  3. I remember one time I left the kitchen for a moment to change Emma’s diaper then came back to find Jeremy sitting on top of the fridge. Little ones can definitely be interesting and busy!

    • The fridge?! Oh my word! That is both horrifying and impressive. Little ones are definitely interesting, busy, and also scary!

  4. Fantastic post! I think we can all relate to this! My son climbed out of his cot when he was 9 months old. I did not expect that he would be able to get over the high bars but low and behold, after leaving him awake and alone for all of one minute, there was a thud and I had to rush to see if he was ok. He did not cry and seemed un-phased by it. I was urged to take him to A and E by family members as I couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t landed on his head so after three hours in the waiting room, he was given the all clear. Not a great day for me, as a first time mum, but he had a great time playing with all the toys in the waiting room! Thanks for linking up with #binkylinky

    • That must have been so, so traumatic, I can’t believe he managed that at 9 months! What a little adventurer and rascal!! I leave mine in the cot regularly, thinking of it as a safe haven, so thank you for the warning! When I was writing this I didn’t know if I would appear really careless, due to all the blunders (that actually all happened in the same week!) But I do think it’s impossible to watch them 24/7, and even if we could, knocks and bumps would still occur. Thanks so much for reading, off to scout you out on #binkylinky now!

  5. Oh dear. I remember this stage with Potato. He was a real climber. I remember when he was only 11 months old, finding him on the middle of the dining table, having pulled himself up onto the dining chairs. Heartstopping

    • Oh blimey, I bet you didn’t know whether to scream, grab him or applaud – that is pretty impressive at 11 months! These stories are both reassuring – that stuff happens to everyone; and terrifying, as I can see there is much more to come!!

  6. Thanks for the follow, which I’ve returned. Love your post. When mine were at that stage, I relied on the playpen big time

    • Thanks, I look forward to seeing more of your posts in the future! I really do wish we had invested in a big, fancy play pen now!

      • Ours was great. It folded and had a detachable UV roof so could carry it out to the garden too. And check your local NCT sales. Usually lots of good quality 2nd hand baby equipment.

      • Sounds great, thanks for the info. There is an nct sale coming up actually, I’ve been meaning to go to one for yonks!

  7. You do make me laugh! Those eyes… what a cutie! My godson has just become mobile – I dread to think how my best friend is handling it because he was kind of a terror when he couldn’t move. She did buy him a jail in an effort to contain him…!

    • Thanks Jenni! I fear those eyes will be the end of me 😉 Love that your godson was already a terror, even when his destruction was limited by immobility. I feel a bit scared for your best friend!!

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