A Dad's View: The need to babyproof

A Dad's View 2: The need to babyproof

Our resident new dad Tom Dunmore discovers there's more to life than padlocking kitchen cupboards and safeguarding the DVD player

1243 copy copy copy copy

My friend Sam is a baby sceptic. When I return to work after paternity leave, he forces a smile and then avoids all contact for weeks. He finally asks me how things are, but wilts the moment I mention my new daughter.

I suddenly feel like a terrible baby-bore. Soon after, Sam tells me that he is having his house professionally baby-proofed. I assume he is installing a drawbridge and triple-glazing to stop other people's screaming kids from shattering his tranquility. But no: he's telling me, in a roundabout way, that his girlfriend is pregnant – and they've hired a consultant to pad their home's sharp corners and plug the power outlets.

I suppose that Sam is being obstinate – unwilling to give up the life he loves, he's wrapping his possessions in cotton wool so he can come back to them after 18 years of messiness.

Nevertheless, Sam's response to parenthood strikes me as bizarre – I get the nursery-painting, buggy-buying and tearful farewells to the local pub, but it takes an unhealthy amount of forethought to barricade the stairs before the baby's born.

My baby, Ava, who's just a few months old, is a sleepy bundle of sweet-smelling joy. Why would you need to 'proof' anything against this harmless little creature, when her main hobby is to gurgle benignly on the floor?

Then it all changes: I find Ava not lying on her back; she's on her belly, attempting to
crawl towards my teetering CD racks.

I look around the room with fearful eyes and see exposed power sockets; a coffee table with razorsharp corners; three delicate sculptures; a TV perched on a stack of technology; and a huge iMac on a desk, with wires hanging tantalisingly. Worse, I realise that my commitment to Japanese-style, low-level living means I have no storage space above ground level to hide this stuff. Ava is surely doomed.

I think about calling Sam. But then I realise I'm becoming the epitome of an over-protective parent. Humans have survived for 200,000 years without the need for babyproofing – and while we may have more stuff these days, I'm sure it's not as sharp as it used to be.
So, I make a decision: I'm not going to baby-proof my world. Rather than removing all dangerous objects, I'll teach Ava to respect them. Rather than protecting her from life, I'll encourage her to embrace it.

The results are good: after a few weeks of guidance, and a couple of minor accidents, Ava knows not to pull on cables, touch the oven, or throw my phone on the floor.

My commitment wavers only once: there's nothing more likely to shake you out of smug complacency than the sound of soft baby flesh bouncing down stairs. Installing safety gates isn't enough: you actually need to close them.

Remarkably, Ava is unscathed after falling down the stairs – but I am traumatised. Which pretty much sums up baby-proofing to me: it's more about protecting us parents than our babies. Protecting us from our own over-active imaginations.

Whatever we do, accidents, mishaps and breakages will happen. Sam can try to hide behind his professional baby-proofing – but I plan to embrace the chaos


Related Articles

How dads-to-be can be helpful during labour
Labour and Birth
How dads-to-be can be helpful during labour
How dads-to-be can be helpful during labour Your partner has an important...
A Dad's View: Are girls more cliquey than boys?
A Dad's View
A Dad's View: Are girls more cliquey than boys?
A Dad's View: Are girls more cliquey than boys? Are girls more cliquey than...
A Dad's View: Picky eaters
A Dad's View
A Dad's View: Picky eaters
A Dad's View: Picky eaters Faced with a pair of picky eaters, Tom Dunmore...
A Dad's View: Dressing-up
A Dad's View
A Dad's View: Dressing-up
A Dad's View: Dressing-up Oh dear, Tom Dunmore is surprised to find himself...

prepare-yourself-for-giving-birthLabour and Birth

How to prepare yourself for giving birth

So what do you need to know to get you ready for labour?

Clemmie Hooper and her mum squad on pregnancy and birth

Midwife and Author Clemmie Hooper and her mum sqaud on how pregnancy and birth was for them.

Cozy 'n' Safe Merlin Car Seat best for rotation

Innovative materials and a parent-friendly focus are the hallmarks of this car seat.

Win a Butlin's Just For Tots break with BABY Born!

BABY born has teamed up with Butlin’s to give one lucky family the chance to win a Butlin’s Just For...

Win £50 Morrisons voucher and Heavenly Tasty Organics Hamper

Heavenly Tasty Organics are giving you the chance to win £50 Morrisons voucher and a hamper filled with their award...

WIN Signed Peppa Pig Poster & Goodies

Celebrate PEPPA PIG MY FIRST CINEMA EXPERIENCE’ in cinemas nationwide from 7th April.