Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Baby-Proofing for Budding Explorers

Once a child starts crawling, they find a wealth of exploration and adventure around the home. Once they start pulling themselves up, cruising furniture and getting ready to take their first steps, they find a whole lot more is within their reach.

My son's favourite activity at present is standing at our coffee table and pulling everything off onto the floor, one item at a time. I was chatting to a couple of other mums the other day and one of them said that they got rid of their coffee table and the other mum said she was considering doing the same thing.

We really have not done any baby-proofing in our flat as yet. The crawling stage was manageable and when our son inevitably went towards things like wires and leads, we told him 'no' and so far he seems to have learned to steer clear of those things. Maybe we've been lucky and I don't want to tempt fate by writing down and publicly declaring the things he hasn't even touched or bothered with but so far it really hasn't been a big deal.

My own mother and my sister-in-law (both mothers to three children) told me that they didn't do any baby-proofing, as they felt it was good for the children to learn what's ok to touch and what's not. My sister-in-law made a good point that if you transform your own home into a totally baby-friendly abode, then when you're at someone else's house, your child won't know that it's not ok to grab their books and rip the pages out or whatever.

So far, our son's prefered activities have come in phases, as his curiosity and development has progressed. I figure the table de-robing is just another phase. I can deal with picking the stuff up off the floor and putting it back on the table several times a day (they're obviously all unbreakable, insignificant things and we've added a few baby-friendly things too). I really don't think we would ever consider getting rid of the coffee table!

Of course, I have a lot of respect for those parents who take measures to create as safe and clear a home environment for their children as possible. It's all done with the utmost care and desire to protect a child from unnecessary risks. I'm sure there will be elements of baby-proofing that we will incorporate into our home as our son becomes even more mobile, such as kitchen cupboard latches to avoid access to any potentially dangerous implements or substances.

However, I think the touching, picking up, moving and general exploration of new things is an important part of a child's development and a way for them to exercise some independence. It's crucial that as parents, we ensure there are no dangerous items within reach but I feel a total re-arrangement of your home should not be needed and could be counter-productive.

What are your experiences? Did you do much baby-proofing of your home? Please share any helpful suggestions in the comments.
photo credit


  1. I think you are on the right track! We did get rid of our coffee table when my first was little, but for one it had moveable glass that was unsafe, and it was large and we wanted extra room. We did not however move anything else. We left our console table with decorations and built in shelves as they were. Like you mentioned, our daughter learned what was acceptable and what was not. Our friends on the other hand completely "baby-proofed" their home- removing lamps, putting a fence in front of the fire place, no decorations on tables. You know what- still to this day (they have a five and three year old), their children get into everthing at our house. They don't know what is appropriate.

    It does require a watchful eye and repetitious "no's", but they learn and when this stage is over they are much better behaved!

  2. We were lucky that when we moved into the house we're in now, the previous ownders had already baby proofed everything. All the cupboards and drawers had latches and they had three baby gates set up. We asked them to leave them in and they did. It was perfect for our child who was just turning one and learning to walk and perfect for the family daycare business I was just about to open. That being said we have a lot of books and that is the biggest problem we've had. Because the kids will go up to the shelves and take a book and thrown it on the ground until there's no books left on the shelf. So aggravating! But does this mean people need to box up their books for a few years? I think it's just a part of having a family. Young children explore and to what lengths will you go to 1) keep them "safe" and 2) keep your stuff safe?

  3. My son is going to be crawling soon and our approach will be similar to yours. We already got rid of the coffee table a year ago, though, since it was always pushed out of the way to make room for dog v. husband wrestling matches.

  4. My little one is 15 months and has been walking since she was 11 months so we are used to the somewhat random tossing of books and other objects that catch her fancy. We have not done any major baby proofing although we did get rid of the coffee table as it had some very mean sharp corners!!
    I have some very beautiful vases and statues that sit on the floor around the place all of which my little one leaves completely alone. She seems to know what is ok to toss and what is not. I think children mimic our behavior in many ways and when they see us picking up books or other objects and putting them down, they try to do the same in their own way... and when they see us respecting things like vases and statues, they seem to (eventually) so the same :)

  5. i do not own a coffee table to begin with, but I doubt I'd get rid of it if I had one. i'd just make sure there were no dangerous items on it. I did install plug covers, just the ones that plug into each individual socket, and my son kept removing them to chew on them. So, I took them out and he hasn't bothered with the electrical outlets ever since. I do have a pair of lamps, and sometimes, he likes to play with the wires, but I just tell him "no", and move him away. I'd like to set up one baby gate to keep him away from the bathroom and my roommate's room, because she has trouble remembering to close doors sometimes, and it would also be useful to separate my son from the dog whom he lovingly torments on a regular basis. I do have the kitchen cupboards locked, but I did reserve one cupboard especially for him and I put all his toys in there.

  6. Thanks for the great comments! It's reassuring to hear from those of you whose children have learned to stay away from certain things without you having to remove them.

    Tiffany - good to know that they become better behaved as a result of a watchful eye and some 'no's'.

    Melodie - I completely agree with your point about a bit of temporary mess being part of having a family.

    Goodbye, Small Heart - I'm sure having a dog means your house is already somewhat prepared for exploratory antics!

    Global Mamas - good point about children mimicing our behaviour and following our own examples

    Lynessence - I really like your idea of having a kitchen cupboard reserved for your son's toys.

  7. I just wanted to add that we did do safety child-proofing, such as socket covers and locks on cupboards that had cleaners in them :)

  8. I only put those little safety plug caps in, I had stair gates until 10 days ago, my youngest is now at a age where he can say "mummy slowly stairs" and he waits for me at the top, he goes up happily but always needs help downwards.

    Otherwise I use sign language from a young age to describe danger, in my old flat I had a safety guard on the over as my eldest was obsessed with touching it and no matter what she did so I got that for obvious reasons!


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!