Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Safety without baby proofing

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Staying Safe (with Natural Parents - Carnival of Natural Parenting)

When Horn and I found out we were expecting Hannabert, I naturally started reading everything about safety. There are lists for infants, crawlers, toddlers, preschoolers, and I am sure that I can find a list on how to teenage proof your house.  In fact, I learned that there are COMPANIES and PEOPLE whose entire livelihood is babyproofing a home!

Then I thought about it. I didn't want to baby proof my home. I wanted Hannabert to enjoy our house as much as we did without us having to constantly be on the look-out for perceived danger rather than watching for real danger. We wanted him to come with us places. Places with people who might not have children.

That, and Horn and I  never really make baby proofing a priority. Sure, we registered for outlet covers and those things that prevent doors from slamming on small fingers but we only installed a few covers (my in-laws installed many more than us but didn't do any of the door latches). We did install a baby gate at the top of the stairs going into our basement and we did turn down the water temperature to a safe level.

We definitely didn't go overboard. We looked for real dangers and encouraged Hannabert to explore and to be safe in what he did.  We talked to him about the dangers of sticking his fingers or items into sockets. We talked about HOT when it came to stoves. I showed him steam and held his hands NEAR the heat so he knew what HOT was (NEAR not in hot water nor on a hot stove,. I swear he wasn't in danger).

Rather than yelling or panicking, we tried to redirect dangerous behaviors into safe ones. We demonstrate how things might hurt him. Yes, I will say it, we allow him to recieve bumps and bruises so that he know how injuries are caused (especially if we have warned him of a dangerous activity). 

An example of this was when we took him camping this weekend (complete with an open pit fire). We had two paths to our camp site: one was safe and covered in gravel and the other (shorter and more convenient route) was muddy and slippery. We had told him a number of time to use the rocks because it was safer. He chose to not use the rocks, fell down, and slid down a hill on his butt. Uncomfortable for him, a mess for us to clean-up, and he spent the rest of trip reminding us to use the rocks.

Sure, we struggle with hand holding on roads and parking lots. We have to frequently remind him of dangers but we know that we can take him places with us without having to be on constant guard.  Hannabert warns us when things are hot (or tries to move us back from things that he feels are hot). He tells us to watch out and warns us to be careful.  Hannabert (in large) understands dangers exist beyond a house full of latches, stops, and covers. We understand that we need to be present with him and help him understand dangers without having to keep him in a bubble.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to car seats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"


  1. Ha, we were totally crap about babyproofing. Kept thinking we'd get around to it, but our firstborn was unadventurous. I do like preparing them, though, rather than proofing the world around them — since it's impossible to do in the broader sense!

    1. We kept thinking we would do it as well but never made it a priority...Our child is completely adventurous (opening doors with deadbolts, etc) so it has kept us on our toes.

  2. This sounds like our philosophy in a nutshell :) I also liked how another writer put it - you can't babyproof Mother Nature. So true! Yes, let's keep littles safe, but let's also teach them how to live safely wherever they are!

  3. I seem to remember feeling the same as you in those early days it was not going to be about proofing more about providing a safe environment for them to explore. It gets more complicated as they get older but it is so important to prepare them rather than protect.

  4. We aren't huge on babyproofing either. I do make sure to keep sharp things out of reach and a gate at the stairs but generally we just keep an eye on the baby. I'm also not one for keeping my kids in a bubble. There are somethings that I have them avoid but I also believe in letting them learn through experience (obviously nothing insane).

    1. same here - we gated our scary stairs until he could walk on them safely. We haven't put our knives away yet as in our last home, we walked into the kitchen to find that Hannabert had taken out a filet knife and was trying to cut him a piece of stollen....

  5. I often wonder if our 4 year old is generally so sensible (safety-wise) because we give him a fair amount of responsibility of his safety, or how much is just due to his personality?! We have a rented house (a small Victorian terrace) that would be very difficult to do an awful lot of baby-proofing to.
    We've got the major things covered - stair gate at top and bottom of terrifyingly steep stars, plug covers, window locks, fire guard. However our son was never big on putting all he could find in his mouth and our younger daughter is the exact opposite so our relatively relaxed ways may not work out so easy in the coming months!

  6. I am preparing my home for baby proofing because my babe is just starting to widen her horizons. She just started to crawl and grab on everything that she can put her hands on. The truth is, I am starting to worry about her safety but I got a great point on your blog, the world is rough out there. The best way to baby proof is to teach her how to be careful and cautious.

    1. I understand about the crawling and getting thing into mouths...

  7. I agree completely! My son is 8 now and has always shown a good sense of what he can't do and awareness of hazards like edges he could fall off. He quickly learned "hot" and would point out steaming items and warn us about them. The occasional mishap is very educational to him--like your story about the two paths. This important word was very helpful to us in quickly conveying risk and getting him to correct his behavior in a safe way.

  8. Yes, people can go overboard, and spend way too much money, on baby proofing. I think I had a happy medium with my oldest; we needed a couple of gates because of unsafe stairs, socket covers, and edge/corner covers for the brick hearth on our fireplace. Other than that we were good with training her to begin being mindful about what she did, without saying "be careful" too much. Funnily enough, with my youngest, we did none of the above, even though our new home had even more unsafe stairs for a toddler.

  9. My parents did the same thing as you and HOT, since I grew up in a house with a wood-burning stove. It was too hard to block off from me, so they used lots of opportunities to expose me to HOT (also without burning me!) and I don't think I ever touched it. I think there might have been one time when I was a little older (5 or 6) and touched it by accident, when not paying attention. He'll be fine :)

    Thanks for the comment on my QT this week--we are in a FB group together, so we already sort of "know" each other ;)

  10. My parents did the same thing as you and HOT, since I grew up in a house with a wood-burning stove. It was too hard to block off from me, so they used lots of opportunities to expose me to HOT (also without burning me!) and I don't think I ever touched it. I think there might have been one time when I was a little older (5 or 6) and touched it by accident, when not paying attention. He'll be fine :)

    Thanks for the comment on my QT this week--we are in a FB group together, so we already sort of "know" each other ;)

  11. I had a longer post, but it got eaten :( my parents did something similar to you with HOT. It worked, I'm still here!

    Thanks for the comment on my QT this week! We are in a FB group together, by the way, so we sort of "know" each other... :)