Baby-Proofing v. Home-Proofing (aka Operation Safe Baby)

(This is a daily battle she and I have.)

With Emma Vance’s new love for crawling and cruising, I’m suddenly looking at our house with fresh eyes. E.V. has absolutely NO filter for what might hurt her, and, man, are there a lot of potentially dangerous things around here!

Emma Vance seems to be drawn to no-touch objects these days. Whether it’s the dogs’ food and water (which she gets into every single day), our laptops (Ryan secretly hopes she ruins his so he can replace it) or my earrings (painful), her hands are explorative to say the least. Now that she can go anywhere at will, she’s been motoring around, scratching on Dad’s hard drives, pulling the bathroom trashcan over and hiding under chairs. Her favorite thing to do lately is chew on the ends of wires: power chords, plugs, antennae–you name it. (Is this normal? Maybe it’s because she’s trying to cut teeth, and metal prongs are sharp, tiny objects?) She’s gotten several bumps and bruises from pulling her self up and then losing her balance, and once she even caught her tiny lips between the leaves in the coffee table (ouchie!). I’m sure DFACS would take one look at her and be certain I’m abusing her…

Now that we’ve entered into this new phase of pre-toddler-ness, I’ve been wondering what the heck to do. If you’ve been reading along, you know I’m a huge fan of Baby Wise, and recently have been brushing up with the second book in the series, Baby Wise II. I recently re-read a chapter that discusses baby-proofing your home versus home-proofing your baby. The concept in interesting–instead of turning your house into a veritable Bubble Boy environment, you simple take logical precautions (like locking up your knives and medicine) and then teach your child boundaries from babyhood. The idea has resonated with me because I always dreaded the assumption that I had to bubble wrap every inch of my house once E.V. got mobile; the idea that I could home-proof her was revolutionary to me.

So here’s where we’ve landed: We are about to start Operation Safe Baby.What does that mean? Well, the plugs will be covered, the sharp objects raised up out of reach, the guns (yes, plural) locked up, the medicine/cleaners hidden. I’m not quite ready to install baby gates because she hasn’t shown an interest in the stairs yet, but I’m sure that will follow shortly. I’m trying to come up with something creative for our stone fireplace surround, since she’s extremely interested in propping herself up on it; right now I keep scooting a pillow between her and it when she plays nearby, and she hasn’t managed to crack her head on it–yet. Beyond that, though, the biggest challenge will be setting her boundaries and enforcing them.

I struggle because I was naturally timid when it came to breaking rules as a child (and as an adult). It’s hard for me to conceptualize that I need to enforce rules on E.V., because she’s me, right? Well, maybe.  (Considering every day she shows more and more of Ryan’s personality traits, and he is NOT a rule follower by any means.) Even if she does grow up to be a rule-follower, though, I suppose someone has to teach her the rules to start. Thus the biggest element to Operation Safe Baby is the use of “no.” It seems that it’s become my go-to word these days, and yes, she already understands what it means. I’ve been trying to pair it with the sign for “no,” but truthfully half the time I say it with her in my arms, so my tone suffices most days. So far she’s been relatively respectful of the “no” boundaries we’ve set–save for grabbing my glasses, to which I have to tell her “NO!” about a hundred times each morning. :)

It’s my life’s goal and joy to keep this little one safe from harm, and as we enter this phase full of new things and new dangers, I feel confident that I can teach E.V. to be home-proof. A lot of paying attention to her, a few logical precautions, and setting “no” boundaries is sure to pay off. And if not? Well, then I’ll just start instituting the just-wait-until-your-father-gets-home phrase because that ALWAYS scares kids into submission, right? :)

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