Thursday, October 3, 2013

Children Shouldn’t Be Crash Test Dummies (My Nanny Diary)

Children by their very nature will manage to get themselves into a dizzying number of dangerous situations of their own concocting, so it’s best not to give them an easy way into trouble and becoming another statistic or sad story in a “What to Expect When You Don’t Childproof Your House” type series of books—as it will take several volumes to document and describe all of the illnesses, injuries, accidents, including but not limited to: gaping head wounds, cuts requiring stitches, burns, poisoning, a sudden supposedly accidental loss of limb, and/or other households little shop of horrors tales from beyond the crib and the crypt. 

Childproofing 101: The Rule of Thumbs

For the safety and well-being of children, it’s absolutely necessary to be proactive about childproofing and safety concerns.  The worst way to find out something should have been done is after someone is seriously injured because it wasn’t.  There are so many different basic childproofing things that need to be done, and they vary from one house to the next.  What's more, the basic baby and childproofing needs for your little one can be much more extensive than the lists of some other mothers.  This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list.  It's merely a jumping off point (pun intended) like everything that's in your house will become if it hasn't already.    

Before your child can roll over, install plug covers on any outlets at floor level in rooms where you will let them play.  You will be amazed at how quickly they can get from one part of the room to another when they get on a roll (literally).

Put gates at the top and bottom of staircases once your child can roll, but way before he or she is crawling.  It will help you preserve whatever sanity you have left when they become more mobile and will boldly explore in all directions. 

Any heavy furniture, shelves, etc. that may tip over should be tethered to the wall.  You can be certain that when climbing capable your child will try to get something out of reach by scaling whatever they need to in order to reach new heights. 

If there are more children than there are adults the majority of the time, then there needs to be two to three times more childproofing done, and/or your place will need to be up to Department of Social Services Standards for Child Care Centers if you intend to make it through the baby and preschool years with a below-average number of trips to the pediatrician's office and/or emergency room.

If an older sibling does it, their younger siblings will learn from them possibly/probably sooner than the first child learned it and do it as often as they can if they receive a high level of alarm from parents or caregivers.  This factor is multiplied with twins and multiples.  What was okay when you just had one little one running around is NOT necessarily safe when you have two or three young ones.

A funny-in-retrospect true story to prove toddlers are smarter than you think, so watch out!

When one of “my little guys,” who resembled a little old man when he was using his walker/push toy, shuffled up to the huge wooden door and pushed on it with his toy, presumably to see if he could get it to open.  I laughed and jokingly said to him that, “maybe if you got a running start…”  That was my first mistake.  I underestimated the kid, who I knew could understand what I was saying.

He was young enough I didn’t think he’d take what I said to heart and have the reasoning power to execute it, especially on a huge, heavy nine feet tall door built in the 1800s.  Wrong again.  He looked right up at me when I said that, then looked over at the closed door.  I always kept this particular door closed once the boys were mobile if I was the only adult present.  This was my sturdiest back-up so as to keep the two toddlers from gallivanting about the dining room, living room, front entryway, and downstairs bathroom, as well as the really big main staircase, none of which were fully childproof.  
This cutie backed up from the door a bit further than he had been before, and the little skunk moved as quickly as he could in jeans that were a tad big for him and a somewhat unwieldy walker back over to the door and rammed it even harder this time.  I was initially amused at his cleverness and persistence until the huge, heavy door opened. 
The important lesson learned here is that if you’re going to give a kid some pointers, even jokingly, thinking he won’t listen or use them, that’s when he’s most likely to awe and distress you with his cleverness and comprehension.
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