The perils of baby/dad-proofing your home

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 package available.

They are fearless. If able to speak, babies would insist their birth is done unassisted from the top of a palm tree over a moat of crocodiles. If you gave your baby a pair of stilts and set up a concrete obstacle course full of coffee tables, broken bottles and rattlesnakes they’d be the happiest person on the planet.

You (handing them stilts for first time): “OK, honey, do you need some help?”

Baby: “No!”

You: “My mistake. Clearly you know what you’re doing.”

The dumbest part of the whole ordeal is when they use their ninja evading skills to evade our constant attempts to save them. It’d be like Lois Lane falling from an airplane and when Superman catches her, she squirms out of his grasp and jumps into a volcano.

This is why parenting magazines scare you into baby-proofing your home. You think you’re making the house safer for your child, but what you’re really doing is making the house more frustrating and less convenient for YOU. At some point, you’ll ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Granted, there’s the slim possibility your child will open a cupboard, flip the nozzle on the bottle of bathroom cleaner to ON, find a match in another drawer and create a flamethrower. Isn’t it just as likely they’ll point the nozzle away from their face, grab a rag and start cleaning? I don’t think as a society we’re giving our children enough credit (kind of true) and also as parents we’re tired of cleaning the bathroom (really true).

Thankfully, these parenting magazines tell you the things in your home that are potential safety hazards, which include – but are not limited to – all the things you own. Basically, if you own a home, it is a safety hazard. When our son was a toddler, after reading a few horror stories online I began obsessing — my mind racing with various ways the house was intentionally out to destroy him.

“What’s to stop him 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 Japanese gang members, losing and being forced to be the manservant of a rich real estate tycoon and forced to fight cobras for sport?

Plausible enough. The more I read, the more I came to realize I am not even 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 a miracle.

Here are some common safety hazards and my plan to make your house as safe as possible for your new mover.

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: Cabinets full of poisonous chemicals

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: 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 him at night and find he’s awake, staring at them. That’s reason enough to consider it. If you could teach him to giggle creepily you’d really have something.

Safety Hazard: Toilet bowls — can cause drowning

Safety Remedy: Remove toilet.

Comment — I’m not opposed to “going” outdoors. Wives will probably deem this unacceptable. If she demands privacy, explain that’s why God made nighttime.

Safety Hazard: Doorknobs that lead to 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 — audibly 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.

Conversely, I thought we should make the house as dangerous as possible — leaving silverware near outlets, getting pet scorpions and possibly installing a moat. The way I figured it, if he could survive this house, think of how much better prepared he’d be for life’s challenges.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at