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Removing Baby Proofing, when and how?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

So I have twin 19 month old toddlers now and, being as I have been outnumbered my whole mothering life, I have been the type to really section off my home and baby proof as much as can be done. I also am a very cluttered person and my home reflects that, this is clearly what makes this issue even harder.

This technique has really paid off in that my twins have wide spaces where they can roam free and play with nearly everything without being told no and kept off things. They play independently amazingly well, I think in large part to their rooms being places of yes yes yes, rather that needing supervision and "handling". They are the main family rooms and the center of our home where we ll spend the most of our time.


Now I am pondering how I'm going to integrate them into the rest of the house? When and how in the world? Specially with two! I also need to teach them these really world skills because more and more we are visiting non baby proofed houses, since they are so used to being able to move around freely in their "zone" they find these new places full of frustrating no's that they are not used too.


Currently they have the large living room and dinning room as kid friendly zones. Amazing play areas and wide gated openings to the kitchen and hallway so they can watch and interact with us when we are doing cooking or chores. About the only no's in those areas are the TV (no touching) and the dining room table (no dancing on) We also have our platform bed on the floor and a 2 ft area all around it fenced off, so that they can wake up and play with a handful of quiet toys (or just play dress up in whatever we leave nearby!) That's also our post shower wind down area. Their own bedroom is kid friendly as well except that is where the nice books are kept, that are for parent read story times. Since all we do is read and sleep in their rooms, it has no toys and they are not left awake in there.


Now I would like to start opening up larger areas and really feel overwhelmed. Heck they are getting too big for me to carry both from one area to the next during transition times (when the both wake from nap and such) and walking them thru the non kid areas is challenging.


I could really use to have them able to walk to the carport with me. I'd also like to incorporating a bathroom in their space so they can learn that naturally. This means opening up the entry hallway to them, which means our shoes and other normal entry things, not to mention a hall closet with bi-folding doors, ouch. The bathroom itself has a trashcan and currently the diapering extras stored in open boxes and bins below a open counter. (it's their changing room) or i could go open the guest bathroom which has more room for their potties, but that includes a bathtub and faucet.


I would also like to open up our bedroom a bit more, maybe just close off our closet/bath area and let them move around the rest, but I'm stuck with how to do the bedside tables (currently outside the fence and frustrating anyway. We rely on our phones as alarms and they won't leave them alone, they also won't leave lamps, glasses or anything else alone and can really do some harm. (turning off alarms, breaking eyeglasses)  we have drawers in the bedside tables and i am planning on getting some latches, but heck can't really put the alarm clock in the latched drawer and the lamp would be  tight fit.rolleyes.gif


So I keep pondering, how to you ever teach kids to leave somethings alone?? Is this a age thing, a get board with things? I have friends that have their similar age kids apparently moving around houses that are seem barely baby proofed, do they just run around after then all the time? I can't leave anything on a counter they they can reach now, when will I be able to?


Frankly I can't even begin to think how I could let a kid in our office before they turn about 8, but that is for the next round, I'm going to start on the easy things now.


P.S. Please spare me any negative views on gates or kids free areas of homes, these tools have given us freedom, not taken it away. I am a SAHM that has devoted every day of the last 19 months to my kids joy and growing, I just may not have done it exactly like you.

post #2 of 21

I think it really depends on the child, and since you have two you need to decide what suits both of them.


My son is 26 months and very careful and cautious. We have never needed all that much babyproofing. We just moved and all I did in the new house was cover all the outlets. We had bought gates for the stairs (our old house was only one level) but turns out he can do the stairs ~with supervision, and he knows he isn't allowed to go down the stairs alone and he always calls us to come get him if we are not right there and he wants to go up or downstairs. Other than that I am sure to keep scissors, knives, medicines and cleaning products out of his reach. But again, he is very mellow as far as climbing and being wild.


OTOH I know a few different friends' toddlers who need everything babyproofed and still manage to get into trouble!


So you really need to use your intuition here and go with whatever feels safest for the twin who would be most likely to get into trouble, in each situation. I really think it varies so wildly from one child to the next so there are no absolutes (besides maybe the obvious like outlets, toxic chemicals, and knives and such....which BTW I actually doubt my son would even get into but with those things one can never be too safe).


Good luck and just trust your gut!

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Yeah my kids are real go getters, he climbed into his highchair over the tray mind you, way before he could walk. she thinks nothing of diving off couches. Hence the "no dancing on the table" rule, they push each other  rover the edge!


Part of what comes from exploring a pretty safe world, seems a brave, i can do anything attitude!

post #4 of 21
I agree that it depends on the child. I too like to have the main living spaces gated off-- we spend most of our time in the kitchen and family room. The dining room is my older dd's area for all of her crafts and things that my little one isn't ready for yet. We store paints and stamps and other small things in there. We have gates that open and close, and I do keep them open longer and longer each day. I took them down for a while even, but it was taking me so much more effort to get the house clean. I now can close them off for a while so I can keep her in with me away from the no's and then also allow her some time where I am focused on keeping her safe and keeping her from painting herself head to toe with acrylics so she can still explore in there. It seems like after she is allowed more time to explore, the newness wears off. I let my guard down and then I find her getting into things one day.

I remember taking all of the gates except the one at the top of the stairs down when my older dd turned 2. My LO will be 3 in 6 weeks, and we still have them up and use them part of most days.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

i guess what I'm asking is since i can't baby proof their world forever, how to i teach them to live in the real world? how to i know when they are ready? 

Do i start leaving things on the dining room table to "get them used" to having things around that are not their toys?

Do i look for some developmental level that shows me that they are ready for the next step?


frankyl I'm starting to feel like i am stunting their personal growth, I'm so often in a spot where i realize way after the fact they they could have done something themselves or played with a toy i thought was too old for them and such.  it started by me not being baby proofed earlier enough, so i did not give them room to roam, the moment i did, i found out they could move around a ton more than i thought they could and I was holding them back, i felt so bad.

post #6 of 21

You could always just try diving off the deep end, and opening up every area to them at once. Watch them closely that day. Redirect when they're getting into something they shouldn't (rather just, no this, no that). Things that you really don't want them messing with, see if there's another place to put it so that they can't reach it. If things get too crazy, you can always dial it back and section off more rooms. Or it could be great and you'll wonder why you worried so much about it. :)

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

wow, I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and guess you have never had two tiny kids at the same time?


i have 2, not 1, 2 brave curious go get them style toddlers and a house that frankly is full of shit they can't touch and might even hurt them, thanks to me being a messy person and a pack rat and having moved in here when i was in my 3rd trimester, and it being a rental, things very really got put in a permeant spot in a lot of cases, and now they have been all shoved out of the rooms that ARE baby proofed,


So yeah, the diving off the deep end will have to be reserved for how my daughter gets int o her ball pit for now

post #8 of 21

I'm not much help, my kids are experts at opening/removing every single babyproofing device, lol! The only thing that has worked was getting rid of stuff, having minimal furniture and putting any potentially dangerous object where even I can't reach without a ladder, and then locking the ladder away redface.gif, well I might have exaggerated with that last part, but I don't like surprises from my little explorers. Is there any way someone could help you organize or maybe donate some of the stuff you mentioned? Maybe then little by little introduce another very small area of the house and see what they do? If it's too much caos, wait for a time when your partner can help. My LOs love anything new, but will soon get bored after they've had their fill of whatever caught their attention - the more I prevented them from playing with the item, the more attractive it became. I know you can't do that with everything, though. Explaining at their level why certain things are dangerous and shouldn't be touched has also helped in the case of electrical outlets, oven/stove... On other occasions explaining/showing how things work can help satisfy their curiosity (for example, a clock), or depending on the situation, with very close supervision let them handle that coveted object. And yes, follow your intuition, you know your kids better than anyone.

post #9 of 21
Originally Posted by ~Adorkable~ View Post

wow, I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and guess you have never had two tiny kids at the same time?


i have 2, not 1, 2 brave curious go get them style toddlers and a house that frankly is full of shit they can't touch and might even hurt them, thanks to me being a messy person and a pack rat and having moved in here when i was in my 3rd trimester, and it being a rental, things very really got put in a permeant spot in a lot of cases, and now they have been all shoved out of the rooms that ARE baby proofed,


So yeah, the diving off the deep end will have to be reserved for how my daughter gets int o her ball pit for now


I actually do have two young children. They are not twins, however. I guess the main difference is my house is not full of stuff that they can't touch or that could hurt them. Maybe if you start decluttering and purging maybe you'll feel more comfortable about letting them explore different areas of your home. Also, think about what the real hazards are in your rooms. You don't want them getting into cleaning products or knives because those could likely kill them. But things like trinkets that can get broken, or bifold doors that may pinch won't likely do any permanent damage to your child.

post #10 of 21
I would try to go room by room and make things reasonably safe (no heavy things up high, no shart/pointy things, no chemicals, etc) and open each up to the explorers as I go. Yes, they will get into things and probably break stuff and I would move precious/irreplaceable items away. I would lock the cabinet under the sink in the kitchen and the bathroom so chemicals are unreachable. I would also do the same with the cutlery drawer in the kitchen. This would remove the majority of serious hazards. The rest I would deal with through supervision. Keeping track of two is certainly harder than doing it with one, and you could start small (maybe with help so you're not outnumbered) say with one extra room a week maybe for a couple of hours and work up from there. As your confidence in the twins grows, you can step it up and open more and more of the house. Exploring safe environments is wonderful but they also need to learn to listen to you in matters of safety. My 16 month old roams the house (except the basement) and the worst incident we had was her tripping over a toy she left in the kitchen. She understands hot and gives me space when I open the oven. Other than that, she walks around, picks up things, unpacks the laundry basket and arranges my pots on the floor. The worst thing she has access to in the kitchen is olive oil. She respects it when I say something belongs to another person and she can't have it. She can (and does sometimes) make a big mess but the only time I worry is when things are quiet. This is just what worked for us and I hope you find it useful. Good luck!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

as a point of detail, i have no urge or intention to let them in the kitchen, it is just not toddler-proofable and since we are renting and leaving here in less than a year, it is not worth making it todler-proofable. so that at least gives me some freedom, they hang out with me when im in the kitchen from the other side of a large double door opening that is gates and they have a kids kitchen on their side, so we cook together like that.  that in mind i still have the dangerous things on the high shelves rather than under the sink.


i have figured out how to have a gate that swings from where it is now closing off the entry to the dinning room where they play everyday, to closing off the stairs/kitchen and office and leaving the dining room open, so i am going to set that up and hope to leave it in the "more freedoms" position most of the time but have a way back to how it was if i need to.  now i will start with the gate at the other end of the house and slowly move it father and farther into the house as i see how it goes.


so it will be the entryway that they have access to first and then their changing room.



so.... how do you get toddlers to stop chewing on dirty shoes?  we do shoes off in all the kid areas to keep the floors clearer. DH works in a hospital and takes the subway home. I'm all for the theory that playing in the dirt builds a good strong immune system, but those are two exposures that push the acceptable limits, so shoes off we went. but the entry has always been the spot that we have to put our shoes off and on and the kids are in love with dads filthy shoes.  i can't expect us to put them away somewhere, i know our limits, any other ideas?

post #12 of 21

They eventually get tired of chewing on shoes as the novelty wears off. shy.gif That probably isn't incredibly helpful though! I have 4 kids and um, much LESS baby proofing then I should I guess. We only have one gate and that lives on the steep back deck stairs. I can probably credit my first high needs, active  child to destroying anything that I once owned that was breakable or valuable and forcing me to get rid of anything that was dangerous so now I have the who the f*** cares what they get into attitude. Maybe it was prep for my two youngest who are 2 years apart but the oldest one of that "set" is on the autistic spectrum so  they function like they are a year apart leaving me with a real 12 month old who is into every freaking thing in the house and a minimally verbal child that functions like he is *maybe* 24 months (on a VERY good day). Yeah. I have piles of crap everywhere these days. I pile it into closets or drawers or stack it up in baskets that get buried around the house. 


It sounds like you have a good plan to start the process. For the shoes, I do swear that they get tired of it eventually. All of my kids have been shoe chewers. I gave up caring, it was a hopeless battle. For your hubby's shoes, maybe just bag those and stick them up right there when he comes home since they are hospital nasty, that kind of nasty does deserve not to be chewed on, until the kids get tired of shoe chewing. Would that be an option? Keep a pile of grocery store bags right there perhaps to aid in that step. 

post #13 of 21

My 23 month old DD is SO far away from me removing all the gates and fences and stuff. She is a terror. Grabs EVERYTHING, climbs EVERYTHING, doesnt stop. We figure we're another year away -sigh- I want my house back, but then baby #2 comes and we have to start all over. Ugh.

post #14 of 21

my oldest is 9yrs old and I still have baby-proof cabinets. lol my older kids did learn how to open them when they were around 4yrs old. My main floor is mostly toddler proof. DS is really active and I am sure that I will have to keep my main floor toddler proof for at least another 2-3yrs.

post #15 of 21

I agree with all the previous posters who say "depends on the kid." For the way you've described it, I'd start slow and open up one of the places you haven't let them into, and then do the diligence of telling them no and "no touching" on everything they're not allowed to touch for as long as it takes for it to lose its charm in that area. Then move to the next! We have a small place but there are some non- negotiables that were super hard to baby proof- we have a screen door that is always open to catch the breeze, leading to a non-child-safe balcony, so my 24 -month- old son is not allowed to touch the screen or step out  the door if it's open. It took a LONG time, like weeks, to of telling him no and redirecting til he got it. But now, it's fine. I've even taught him not to mess with laptops and electrical cords anywhere in the house, as well as not touching cell phones. You have two, so it's harder, but it is manageable if you do it in small steps!

post #16 of 21

My DS is only 12 months and an only child, but he sounds a lot like your DC do... very adventurous, climbing everything, getting into everything no matter how many times you re-direct. Personally, I don't think that baby-proofing will slow them down at all or hinder development at all. If I were you, I'd toss that idea away and look at what else is driving you to de-baby proof. Because if it's working for everyone, then there's no need to change it now. I think that as time goes on, you'll know when to start opening up parts of the house to them on a bit-by-bit basis. 

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

yeah i guess what is driving me right now is that i have two heavy toddlers and i cant carry them both thru the non baby proofed parts of the house. so if they could walk themselves better from room to room it would smooth out day out.


but to that end i have been having them walk along with me thru some of the areas that i was thinking i need to open up, the main front hallway mostly, and as long as im right there with them it is going ok. maybe this will give them the needed getting used to things so everything is not all shiny new.


we are also working on storage option for our entry that gets things up and put away more. 


i think this may be a decluttering issue just as much if not as a toddler learning issue.

post #18 of 21

maybe this will give them the needed getting used to things so everything is not all shiny new.


I imagine this is key.  If you come to my house, it really doesn't look baby-proofed.  Dangerous things are (obviously) locked away, but the little guy has access to our entire house (except the basement and main floor bathroom--due to the location we had to put the gate to keep him out of the basement).  Since everything has always been there, he will explore things for a bit and then tends to leave them alone.  If there is something I don't want him to get into and he won't leave it alone, then I try to figure out a way to solve the issue.  Our biggest problem is that he wants to the older kids toys and the dining room table was their "safe" spot for them and he has now figured out how to climb the chairs.  *sigh*  He's been climbing the kitchen chairs for a while, but the dining room ones didn't have a place for him to get a foothold until he got to just the right height.


Anyway, he tends to be a more compliant kid (and a singleton), so I know that helps--but he is very curious about things when we are in a new place so he isn't the type of kid who will quietly sit on a blanket and look at books either.


Hopefully as you open up areas to them, they will lose interest in the "new" things and it won't be as much work for you.

post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 

hey nice to see you lisa, hope that bugger of yours is doing amazing! (your siggy is a bit out of date?)


yeah the other big reason i would like to get them more used to not perfectly baby proofed places, is that very thing of going over to a friends house that is probably more like yours.


 i think im on the right track, slowly but surely right?

post #20 of 21

Oops--it was a bit out of date!


My little guy is doing great--he is a fun kid.  :)


It takes time to get them used to having limits and some kids are going to take longer than others.  It is just the way it is.  Also, I recognize that when other little kids come over that there are going to be temptations that we don't think of anymore and just try to keep a closer eye on them.  I have to keep a close eye on my little guy when we go to other people's houses because they have things that are extremely interesting to him that we don't have at home.  It is just the age.  This is a very, very busy age where they are old enough to really get around but not old enough to easily understand that they can't do what they want, when they want.  That part gets easier in a while (and then it is on to new challenges!).

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