I Don’t Want to Live in a Child-Proofed House

Julie Ryan Evans

Photo by kristina_1988
With each new milestone my daughter masters, there lurks another danger; and for each danger, there's some gadget or gizmo designed to protect her from it.

Crawling was first, followed quickly by crawling up the stairs. After camping out on the bottom step for the good part of a week to prevent her escapades, I rejoiced as our baby gate was installed and I was able to resume my life.

Now that Lila Claire is walking, she's more than doubled the length of her reach and at least quadrupled the distance she can cover in a given minute. Doorknobs are within reach; there are cabinets and cupboards at her fidgety fingertips; and hello, toilet!

It'd be easy to go to extremes and put a lock, pad, or bumper on every surface in the house, but I don't want to live like that.

First of all, much of that gear is just annoying -- have you ever tried to undo a toilet seat lock when you really have to go? And frankly, most of it is, well ... ugly. Sorry, but if you have a padded coffee table bumper, just take a look at it  -- you can't possibly disagree. (And yes, I know there are sleek and chic models out there, but they're really neither.)

Am I vain enough to put my convenience and my house's aesthetic ahead of my daughter's well being? No, that's part of it, but my inner good mommy also wants to teach my daughter what's safe and what isn't. I think she can learn that no means no and what it feels like to get her finger pinched when she doesn't heed it. And I think that at her age, someone should really be paying attention to her no matter how child-proofed an area is supposed to be anyway.

Plus, I know from six years of raising my son (a son that had three sets of stitches in a six-month period) that when it comes to injuries, they come despite plentiful pounds of prevention and in the most unexpected places -- like at golf camp or a pumpkin patch. 

Perhaps I'm overestimating my daughter's ability to learn and listen, or my patience and ability to keep repeating myself and tolerate the screaming that will ensue when I move her away from whatever it is she's not supposed to be touching or opening or eating. But for now, my toilet will remain completely easy to use.   

How much child-proofing do you do?

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