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The perils of baby/dad-proofing your home

January 22, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE , Times-Republican

From day one, babies are born with the instinct to test their durability. To them, their bodies are like a rental car - and they just purchased the largest insurance. If they ruin this one, they believe they can trade it in for a superior model - that they can also ruin for no reason.

They are fearless. If blessed with the ability to speak, babies would insist their birth is done unassisted from the top of a palm tree over a moat of crocodiles. I guarantee if I gave my one-year-old daughter a pair of uneven stilts and set up a concrete obstacle course full of coffee tables, broken bottles and rattlesnakes she'd be the happiest person on the planet.

Me (handing her stilts for first time): "Okay, honey, do you need some help?"

Baby: "No!"

Me: "My mistake. Clearly you know what you're doing."

The dumbest part of the whole ordeal is when she uses her ninja evading skills to get by our constant attempts to save her. It'd be like Lois Lane falling from an airplane and when Superman catches her, she squirms out of his grasp in order to jump into a volcano.

Now that she's mobile, I consulted various parenting resources on baby-proofing and have come to the conclusion that if you own a home, it is a safety hazard and you're better off moving your family to a cave. After reading a few horror stories I began obsessing; my mind racing with various ways the house was intentionally out to destroy my daughter.

"What's to stop her from opening the pantry door, grabbing the stepladder, fashioning a prying tool like a prison inmate, removing the window, tying sheets together, climbing out and stealing my car to drag race with a bunch of Asian gang members (I don't know why I pictured them Asian), losing and being forced into slavery all because of my substandard baby-proofing?!

Plausible enough. The more I read, the more I came to realize that not even I am safe in my own home. How have I survived all this time?! How I've managed not to trip and fall face-first into the toilet is honestly a miracle.

Here are some common safety hazards as outlined by the Internet and my plan to make the house as safe as possible.

Safety Hazard: Cabinets full of poison

Safety Remedy: Child-proof latches

Comment - These are especially handy when you're in a hurry, forget they're there and need a good shoulder dislocation.

Safety Hazard: Furniture - an invitation for children to climb and repeatedly test to see if the Earth's gravity is still in tact and discover if landing face-first onto the coffee table might actually cause some discomfort.

Safety Remedy: Remove all furniture.

Comment - It's amazing how much space this opens up and how few people want to visit.

Safety Hazard: Child bed - nighttime suffocation hazard.

Safety Remedy: Strap child upright to wall.

Comment - I'll agree that this is a little "Silence of the Lambs" and would probably freak out some folks if they stop over to peak at her at night and find she's awake, staring at them. That's reason enough to at least consider it. If I could teach her to giggle creepily we'd really have something.

Safety Hazard: Toilet bowls - can cause drowning

Safety Remedy: Remove toilets.

Comment - I'm not opposed to "going" outdoors. My wife being my wife will probably deem this unacceptable, putting herself before our child. If she demands privacy, I'll explain that's why God made nighttime.

Safety Hazard: Doorknobs that lead to poison rooms, garages full of sharp things, bottomless pits, etc.

Safety Remedy: Replace all doors with walls.

Comment: The logical remedy is to get those giant plastic doorknobs that fit over existing knobs. Unfortunately my only experience with these was in a bathroom at a friend's house and it took me an hour-and-a-half of struggling - grunting the entire time and making everyone feel uncomfortable - before exiting out the window. I don't need that kind of aggravation.

Safety Hazard: Entire house

Safety Remedy: Replace all surfaces with memory foam.

Comment: Unfortunately I checked into it and this is cost-prohibitive. Some would say it's also creepy - as the house would likely resemble some kind of ancient Persian love den.

Alternate Safety Remedy: Clad baby from head-to-toe like hockey goalie.

Comment: From what I'm able to see, my daughter looks really cute (and especially terrifying with a skull painted on her helmet). Even though her mouth guard makes her sound like a wounded water buffalo, I'm pretty sure she's thanking me.

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Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com or at Sunnyside Home For Crazy Parents That Read Way Too Many Horror Stories About Child Home Accidents On The Internet.

 
 

 

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