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I Didn't "Baby Proof" My House, and I Don't Regret It

baby crawling in house

When I first became pregnant, I had no idea what I was doing or what would lie ahead. I didn't read many books, and I didn't know anyone with a baby. A lot of what I eventually learned was from experience, and my general takeaway as a mother of a now 1 and 2 year old is this: everyone needs to calm down. There is so much fear-mongering in our culture when it comes to having children. For me, it was not nearly as terrifying as people made it out to be, and I am appalled at the amount of "stuff" everyone said I needed for kids. In my time parenting, simple has been the best strategy for everything, especially with prepping the home for babies.

Not knowing what it would be like, I followed all the guidance of those around me and added all the products I was told about to my registry. Yes, there were a few good and necessary items, but most were just nonsense. It's also worth noting that every kid and every home is different. For us, we work from home and are with our kids 24/7. We made a few feeble attempts at the baby proofing thing, but ultimately found most of it to be useless. Instead, we simply made the effort to teach our babies what was on and off limits. With attention and consistency this was possible, and actually happened very quickly. Kids are smart. If you are clear with your instructions and have the patience to stay firm, they will listen and they will learn.

Often when people visit my home, they are astounded by the condition it's in. Everything looks relatively the same as before we had kids. I kept all my same furniture, and the place is always spotless. This is my choice, and now it's my kids' choices, too. They see an example set and they follow it as well, because to them, "that's just what we do here." Now when my 2 year old sees something out of place, a door open, something that fell on the floor, she puts it back without a second thought, and without being asked. It's quite remarkable how aware they are of what goes on around them and how much they remember. Kids really do mimic what they see, and it's so important that we are displaying the same behavior we expect of them.

When my first-born started crawling, I remember feeling so nervous about what she might get into or hurt herself with. At that time, I was most concerned about the corners of our dining room table hitting her forehead when she started pulling up to stand, so we added some clear protectors to soften the edges. Unfortunately, this just became a game for her and she delighted in ripping them down every time we put them back up. One day she bumped her head (no serious injury or anything), and guess what? She never did it again. I kept the accessories on my low coffee tables and made a point to consistently tell her not to touch them, and she eventually got the point. Same thing with my plants, cabinets, fireplaces, lamps, bar cart, dresser drawers... you name it. From this experience, I feel like in most cases, baby proofing isn't actually helping with the goal you actually want as a parent. I want my child to understand boundaries. That's what you really want to teach. When you say no, it's no - even before you can explain why to them. Now that she's a little older, I can do more to express the purpose of these rules, and she is agreeable and even helps teach them to her now crawling little sister (which is hysterical to watch). The only thing I do choose to keep up in my home today are baby gates - and this is purely so I have the option to cut off access to different parts of the home as needed. (ie: If we are hosting a party the next day and I don't want them to accidentally pull down temporary decorations, if there are workers in the house, if I'm doing something in a room and don't want to have to run after them if they go exploring, etc.) But truthfully, the gates remain open 99% of the time anyway.

All this to say, the endless "stuff" to keep kids away from things in the home is much less impactful (and harder to look at), than the effort of teaching what is on and off limits in your space. It also helps them carry on that same understanding to other places, too. When my kids are in someone else's home or a business, then know not to touch or go near those same types of things, and recognize my response if they encounter something unfamiliar that I want them to stay away from.

This philosophy has served me very well in my own life, and I hope you'll find it worthwhile to try the same concept in your own home with your family. A few weeks of effective and consistent communication can result in years of positive results... and a home you still love.


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