Parenting

To babyproof or not to babyproof?

As Sophie learns new things with each passing day, Katie wonders how far she and Blaine have to go to keep her safe.

Sophie at 11 months.

Okay, parents, it’s time to weigh in and help a new mama out (though soon I won’t be able to call myself a new mama, as Soph’s first birthday fast approaches): How much babyproofing is actually necessary? Overnight, it seems, we have a baby — almost a toddler (eek!) — who is into everything and who only sort of understands the word “no,” despite her new penchant for shaking her head. She’s opening cupboards, standing up to pull stuff off of shelves and weaseling her way under tables and chairs to reach things of interest (which is everything from toys to crumbs). We have the baby gate and the socket covers, but what else do we need?

I’ve embraced the old-school, I suppose, by threading tea towels through cupboard handles to keep the wee girl away from cleaning supplies and dishes. (She has full access to the Tupperware, though). We also just close doors to the rooms we don’t want her in. It seems to be working so far, but should we be looking ahead to the next stage? Do we need doorknob covers and toilet locks? I keep thinking that, at some point, “no” also needs to come into play; I would hope we’d set clear boundaries for what’s off-limits. But I find myself wondering if that’s wishful, cart-before-the-horse thinking: Will she understand these rules in time to keep her safe? Also, what if the rules are different at daycare? Will that confuse her?

This baby should have come with a manual or something. Or at least some confusing IKEA-type illustrated instructions. Every day I watch as she discovers something else she can do, and while amazed and overjoyed at first to see her come into her own, my next thought is always, “Okay, what the hell do we do with THAT?!”

I’ll probably be asking myself the same thing for the next 30 years.