Babyproofing... no one likes to do handywork when they don't need to but it's best to plan to child proof way before you need to. Usually people do the opposite! RIE's founder Magda Gerber felt it was best to make one or two areas of your house completely safe, so that if parents or caregivers got locked out for a few hours the children inside would be safe except for the scrapes they may have ended up inflicting upon each other.
Follow these 7 simple steps to creating your "yes space" home:
1) START SMALL - pick a small space that you can completely baby-proof. You can make one in a small room or gate off an area in a larger space like the living room with long room dividing baby gates. The space can be where you can see the whole time, or not. No one can watch with 100% attention all the time, so make a space where you can relax (get some chores done... or have a cup of tea) and know your child is safe. The added benefit is your child will learn to play by themselves without your constant helicoptering.
2) DEFINE & BARRIER OFF-LIMIT AREAS - Bathrooms and kitchens are not safe by nature for children to be left unattended. Use a baby gate or door knob lock to limit access. Plan to be with your child in the space until they are well into the preschool years, or beyond. I can remember when my daughter was 11 months old... and she thought it was so much fun to open/close and empty the kitchen cabinets. It's her job to do that, but it was ANNOYING! Save yourself the annoyance, save your child the limit setting, and lock the cabinets, oven and fridge. You can leave one drawer for things your child can access like one set bowl, cup, and utensils so they can help set the table.
In the bathroom, make sure to move hazardous liquids into high up and locked cabinets.
3) HAVE LESS STUFF - Clutter causes anxiety, stress, and overwhelm in kids AND grownups. Minimalism is the answer. You won't have to spend hours a day picking things up, and you will be able to see if choking hazards are lurking. Don't know what a chocking hazard is, check out this device.
4) PRETEND TO BE A BABY - Lay on the ground, crawl around. What do you see? Not only does this help you empathize with your child's experience, but you'll also see what might be of interest to them and what they could get into. Make your job easy, by making a space safe for exploration and saying "YES" you save your relationship with your child. You can give them freedom and positive attention rather than constantly setting limits and saying "be careful."
5) WHEN SOMETHING ANNOYS YOU, SET A LIMIT - Your immobile infant isn't going to test you yet, but your toddler will! It's so easy to slip down the permissive parenting slope, by telling a child not to do something, but giving up if they are persistent. If something is annoying you, listen to that voice. Think... can I change the environment to stop the behavior? If yes, do that! If no, then set a limit, with confidence and kindness. "I won't let you climb on the coffee table. You can climb on the floor cushions." And stick to your guns, and honor the impulse if you can! "I see you really want to climb! Let's get all the pillows and climb on them!"
6) SECURE FURNITURE & LOWER YOUR CRIB (early, really early!) - Kids can tip out of cribs easily! And while you're sleeping and they are practicing new found skills is the perfect time for accidents to happen. Same as if you let kids sleep in your bed. One day, a parent may put them in the middle of a king mattress even if they don't usually seem to move much and they can end up on the floor. Ouch! These two things have happened to Mighty Bambinis parents many times! So my advice is never leave a baby on a mattress while they are sleeping or away and leave.
7) KEEP THE FLOORS CLEAN - Babies and toddlers play on the floor, they put everything in their mouth. So to limit shoes in the house, or clean floor often.