Babyproof vs. home proof - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 06-04-2003, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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The discussion about Ezzo' method of home-proofing your child as opposed to baby-proofing your home started me thinking. Before I had dd, I totally thought that children should be taught manners, i.e. they shouldn't be touching everything in sight, especially in other peoples' homes. : In other words, I think I would have fallen into the home-proofing your baby group.

When one of my girlfriends had her dd, she refused to move certain things from her coffee table. Instead, she would lightly slap dd's hand when she touched things. I don't remember exactly how old her dd was at the time, but it didn't sit well with me that she was being so harsh with a small child ( I think her dd was about 1 or so), who was simply curious. But, at the same time, I thought it was good that she was teaching her the limits in someone else's home. I cannot abide when kids are allowed to run around breaking things or ruining things and parents don't say anything.

Fast forward 4-5 years I have dd. Well, my views have totally changed. As dd became more mobile, I began to slowly re-arrange my entire living room. At one point, we had a huge play mat and all of dd's toys all around. Gone were the area rug, the cute knick-knacks, the candles, etc. I totally believed that we needed to accomodate our home and baby-proof and to let her explore as much as possible. We received some comments from family about letting dd "rule" us, but it never bothered me too much b.c knew it wasn't true. I figured that as dd grew, we would slowly start putting things back, which we have recently done.

DD is almost 17 months old and now I try to teach her that some things are not for her to play with and some things she can look at and maybe "just touch." In other words, when we are in someone else's home, I know dd will be attracted to certain items, so I try to satisfy her curiosity without re-arranging our host's home or constantly telling dd "No." If she really wants to touch something, I let her, so long as she doens' t break it or it isn't dangerous to her. I don't let her play with breakable things, even if it will lead to a tantrum, which it sometimes does. For the most part, this has worked well with us. She knows that some things are for "touching" and some she can play with. Naturally, she still tries to grab things that are not appropriate for her, but I figure that that is simply part of being a toddler. I don't believe in yelling at her or forcing her not to touch anything. This is contrary to the belief of some people (such as Ezzo), however, who think that children at that age should be "taught" not to touch things that aren't for them.

I wonder, however, if dd would be less inquisitive about touching things in other people's homes if we hadn't catered our entire home to her? KWIM?

Sooooo, I started thinking about the concept of baby-proofing versus home-proofing your baby. I kind of feel that at some stage, you have to start home-proofing your child so that they know that there are limits in other people's (and even their own) home. It makes it more pleasant to go out with your child and much less disruptive to your host. At the same time, I don't think things should be put out simply to teach a child a lesson, such as deliberately leaving stuff on the coffee table, just to teach your child that they can't touch that. That seems totally excessive to me.

How do/did you handle this phase of your baby's toddlerhoond? Anyone feel this way? Just wondering if there are other methods out there that parent's use that are a middle ground to the two extremes.


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#2 of 9 Old 06-04-2003, 06:24 PM
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I remember reading somehting once that made it sound rediculous to baby proof and that if you just gently explained that there were things you weren't supposed to touch or that you must touch gently that your children would learn with smiles on thier faces :Puke

After i said "these books are not for babies about a million times I had a revelation. if i don't want it sitting before her as constant temptation then move iT !! And to be completely honest we just didn't visit many people whos homes weren't equally home proofed. gradually they learned and are quite respectable at other peoples homes now. (well and we usually bring a video.)

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#3 of 9 Old 06-04-2003, 07:59 PM
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i took EVERYTHING i cared about and hid it from both my kids.

i DID make the mistake of lightly slapping my firstborns hands when he touched stuff that would break. that was a mistake, it didn't work anyway and only made him sad.

i NEVER do that now.

i always did move stuff that i could though. if you love it. and they break it............and it was within reach. = your fault.

kids are curious. i let mine explore. removing harmful things.

it is HARD to babyproof. i find stuff every day that i missed. hard to do, but i keep trying. im gonna succeed one day!

PS. if he touches stuff at other people's houses........that he might break. i say "not for babies" and then i ask if i can move it.

i say "he is gonna break this...........mind if i put it up?"

they always have said "Sure move it" or "ok if he breaks it"

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#4 of 9 Old 06-04-2003, 09:12 PM
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I think that it is necessary to babyproof your home when you have a toddler, because toddlers need to explore and it is their home, too. It's not like you need to get rid of all your stuff - you just have to keep it out of their reach. And a good deal of babyproofing is for the baby's safety anyway. A broken vase can hurt a baby, isn't that why we put it away? To hell with the vase if it breaks...I just don't want my child injured. In our parent's generation, they just kept us in playpens a lot of the time - my MIL always says that's what she did with dh and his sister because they liked to climb the bookcases!

On the other hand, lots of people's homes aren't babyproofed. I think that it is our responsibility to teach them "manners," and sure, maybe it would be an easier task if we hadn't babyproofed so well, but I didn't find it so hard. My dd always responded really well to the, "This is not for baby, but THIS is for baby" distraction/switcheroo technique. We always brought a lot of toys for her, too. And honestly, between age one and two, spending extended periods of time in homes with lots of tempting breakables is not a good idea! I never had trouble asking politely, "Do you mind terribly if I move this thing to a higher shelf, because she just can't seem to stay away from it," but I never expected anyone to temporarily babyproof for us, other than grandparents, of course.
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#5 of 9 Old 06-04-2003, 10:28 PM
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In terms of safety issues, we did a pretty good job babyproofing. Outlets stay covered, chemicals/medicines are out of reach, etc..

But there are things we leave out, and I never tell the kids "don't touch." Instead, I've coached them to explore carefully. I don't mind them touching or pulling out videos or CDs as long as they explore gently and help to clean up. I let them hold fragile knick-nacks and then I help them set them gently down again. This helps a lot in other people's houses too -- that they pretty much know to handle things carefully. And the "novelty" factor is negated here too. Often, they just don't care because the object is not a mystery.
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#6 of 9 Old 06-05-2003, 12:37 AM
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I babyproof.

I try to see it from the baby's POV. This world and all that is in it is SO new. Every object screams at the child to touch, feel, taste, explore. Baby is on a mission - he is exploring his world!

Imagine you were a car buff, just LOVED cars, and you go to an arena FULL of beautiful, shiny, cars. And every time you touched one, you got slapped, or chastised. I think that would suck.

And I honestly believe that constant nagging, saying "no", and/or hand slapping is going to completely dull that curiousity urge. Your child will eventually just give up trying to explore, he will squelch that natural instinct in him, and I think that is really wrong.

I try to avoid going places that aren't childproofed/baby friendly. But if I do, I consider it just part of my job as parent to follow her around and make sure she doesn't get into stuff. I don't expect people to babyproof for me, but I also don't expect to just sit back and watch DD trash the place, lol. I plan ahead, bring toys.

PS - I do what mamaduck does, too. IF it's fragile, I explore it with her. She is learning what "gentle" means and I'm having to intervene less and less, and she's only 11 months!

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#7 of 9 Old 06-05-2003, 01:34 AM
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I think if you want to spend all your waking hours disciplining your child you can "home-proof" your child and visit the ER a few times for your trouble. Why put the child in a situation where they will naturally get into trouble? You'd literally have to have eyes in the back of your head to stop them from finding trouble. Why not give them situations where they will be able to "behave"? Asking a toddler not to touch things is like asking a dog not to wag it's tail. I think it's cruel. I mean, you CAN do it. You can trian a dog not to wag it's tail but I think you'll have a miserable dog.

When they become older toddlers you can ask more of them. Ask them to rein in their curiousity for short periods as in visiting another's home. But a 17 month old? It seems (to sound a little Mr. Spock-ish) illogical to ask that of a baby. A 17 month old is technically pre-verbal. Communication is rather spotty until closer to two. Also, they are not able to weigh the consequences of doing something against the desire to do it just yet. Not readily. You can cruel a child into never touching anything but realize that this is what you are doing. That's Pavlovian response. That's not parenting.

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#8 of 9 Old 06-05-2003, 07:27 AM
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agree completely with all the previous posters on this issue. dd and I have had good results with the 'one-finger' touch only for delicate objects. she has learned how to use the one finger almost immediately (by watching me, I guess)
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#9 of 9 Old 06-05-2003, 08:29 AM
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I would babyproof the house for many reasons.

I'm too darn lazy to waist so much time and energy futily trying to get a baby to not explore!!

I want my baby to know that this is *their* home and we, the parents are "for" them.

I teach limits not by a constant stream of "no's" but either, "not for baby" or "gentle touch" If I had an opportunity to teach "gentle touch" (if the house is completely babyproof you get opportunities with animals, in the garden, or at other people's houses) I would take the older baby's hand and walk her through the "gentle touch".

I don't think it's appropriate to let children run wild through other people's houses. I think we need to be on top of them redirecting them and actively *preventing* any breakage.

I was in a church full of Ezzoish people that would slap their babies for touching things ("keep the books and magazines on the coffeetable and slap their hands, use it as a teaching tool" gag!!) I think treating small exploring children like that is similar to having a disable wheelchairbound family member and not providing ramps, wide doors, and accessable countertops...we wouldn't treat a disabled family member with such contempt why is it ok to treat a baby this way?

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