We purchased our first home in anticipation of having a child, and found out that we would be having twins soon before we moved in. I was prepared to install every baby proofing gizmo known to mankind, but my husband had other ideas. When I proposed baby gates on either side of our the kitchen area of our open living space, he argued that our children should be included in food preparation and taught kitchen safety. My suggestion of foam bumpers on the corners of our dining table was countered with a recommendation that we see how old the twins were before they were tall enough for those corners to be a concern. I wanted to invest in a television cabinet that could be closed against inquisitive fingers, but my husband believed that children should be taught their limits within an adult world, instead of having a limited area of the world cordoned off for them.
I think we struck a healthy balance on the baby proofing front. A couple of the lower kitchen cabinets had baby latches, keeping the girls away from electronics and chemicals. They had free access to pots, pans, and food storage containers. We installed outlet covers on unused electrical outlets, but we taught the babies not to touch plugs instead of preventing their access to them. The only significant injury suffered by either of our daughters was a magnificent bump on J’s head from diving off the couch at around age 2. I was right there, but didn’t quite reach her in time to prevent her head from hitting the tile. I called 9-1-1, but the paramedics declared J perfectly fine and concussion-free.
The girls’ cribs were our 100% safe spot. My husband insisted on solid wood construction without any moving pieces. I insisted that the cribs not have bumpers, because of the suffocation hazard, and used sleep sacks to keep them warm. When I absolutely had leave the babies, they went in their cribs. Yes, even mothers of twins must use the bathroom, and even shower occasionally. We were lucky that M and J had never thought to climb out of their cribs by the time we deemed them ready for big girl beds.
The knowledge that M and J can understand and honour limits has always made me feel like I can handle them in any situation. My mother is astonished that I’ve always taken the girls everywhere with me, starting at about 6 weeks of age – to work functions, on playdates, shopping, to restaurants, to parks, fairs and festivals, and to friends’ houses. Frankly, Mum was surprised that I felt comfortable taking the babies anywhere. It never occurred to her that one could go out with a baby, because our home had been a completely safe space during my childhood, and household staff ensured 24/7 oversight of my younger sister by the time she was born.
Honestly, the day that the children and I don’t leave the house was a rare one when we lived in an area I knew well. As with many people, I may have reacted to an extreme in my own childhood—a narrow, protected world—by taking my own parenting to other extreme. In retrospect, my husband’s foresight in teaching our children limits within the home has given J and M discipline and given me confidence as a mom. It’s this discipline and confidence that has enabled us to hunt worms, ride bikes, “fish” in puddles, enjoy theatre and make new friends.
To what extent is/was your home baby proofed? Is there a relationship between the degree of baby proofing that was right for your family and the frequency with which you explore the larger world with your kids?
Sadia is a working mom of 5-year-old identical twin girls, J and M. She used to blog publicly at Double the Fun, but took her blog private as the girls entered elementary school.