Home Invasion (and the Child-Proofing That Goes With it)
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Pullquote: My car’s backseat is home to a fully-equipped diaper bag that my daughters got me for my birthday, along with a car seat they gave me for Christmas.
When our daughters and their husbands moved in, both girls were pregnant, an exceedingly fortuitous coincidence. They were looking for houses in the area, so we insisted they all stay with us in the meantime. Who knew there would be such limited inventory in the starter home market or that our grandbabies would spend the first nine months of their lives with us?
What began as a nursery in each one of our daughters’ old bedrooms has expanded into, shall we say, a takeover. The irony of writing about the benefits of de-cluttering my domicile in last year’s Home & Garden issue isn’t lost on me. Little by little, newborn clothes began appearing in guest room drawers, teethers on side tables, and pacifiers under chair cushions.
It takes a little agility and a lot of composure to dodge activity floor mats with dangling toys, flashing lights, and built-in melodies. Thank goodness I’m into mindfulness these days. Even my garage is not a safe place. My car’s backseat is home to a fully-equipped diaper bag that my daughters got me for my birthday, along with a car seat they gave me for Christmas. (Gone are the days of handbags and perfumes, I guess.)
Then there’s the command center, our kitchen. Now, we have a Vitamix for pureeing baby food and a Dr. Brown’s bottle warmer on the counter; peas and sweet potatoes disguised as green and orange concoctions in the refrigerator; miniscule plastic spoons in our cutlery drawer; bibs and colorful BPA-free polypropylene bowls where our kitchen towels used to be.
Of course, there are the more conspicuous trappings: the command center’s two high chairs and two activity jumpers, a pack-and-play in the dining room, strollers in the hallway. Did I mention the continuous static hum that permeates our home all day and night? Apparently, babies need white noise machines to nap and sleep through the night, something about mimicking the sound they hear in the womb.
We certainly were humming along for a while, until little Cora and Cole became mobile, that is. Fast forward to babyproofing time. The need for safety precautions has expanded way beyond crib side, where high-def devices with digital zoom, WiFi capabilities, and remote thermometers detect our grandchildren’s every move. (Part of me longs for the good old days when it was normal to listen to our neighbors’ evening chats transmitted through those 1980s monitors.)
I intend to keep ahead of our curious nascent crawlers, so this grandmother and her daughters have been doing some research, dizzying as it may be. We started out with eco-friendly, soft foam, interlocking tiles that provide a cushioned landing as they learned to sit and stand. Washable and fire-retardant, Little Nomad’s are available in a variety of attractive prints, from starry night skies to lacy butterfly wings. Now that our baby cousins require a little more space to roam, the colorful Baby Care Funzone or Baby Diego Cub Zone playpens with rounded panels that lock together are a lifesaver. Accompanying play mats are sold separately, of course.
Not as appealing to the eye, but absolutely essential in keeping tiny fingers safe from electric hazards are outlet child-proof safety covers. For less than $10, one can order a 32-pack from Amazon. While I was at it, I added a set of four clear stove knob covers to my cart.
Then there are the more intrusive checklist items, like safety gates for stairs and doorways. According to bestreviews.com, today’s answer to Consumer Reports, Regalo’s are solid, durable, easy to use, and affordable, whether pressure- or hardware-mounted. Their extra-tall and super-wide options can seal off just about any area and they even have a Home Accents Designer line that offers a little more style.
Despite an overabundance of safe toys, babies inevitably find things inside cabinets more enticing, be it a box of rice or toxic cleaning products. We’re not there yet, but magnetic cabinet locks are powerful and can also be kept in an unlock mode. The down side, and it’s a pretty significant one, is the possibility of misplacing the magnetic key that engages and disengages the mechanism. Note to self: also order the new Tile Bluetooth tracker/key finder.
Let’s not forget easy-to-install door knob safety covers for toddlers and adult children who never learned to knock. There are almost as many options as there are cereal choices in the supermarket, Door Buddy Baby Proof, Door Monkey, and Munchkin Door Knob Cover among them. Now they even have guards against wee ones getting their fingers caught in the door. Back in the day, kids learned from their mistakes as “I hope you learned your lesson” rolled off our tongues. Today, Happy Hands Anti Slam and Wittle Finger Pinch Guard do the grandparenting for us.
<Lest my daughters and sons-in-law pick up this issue and actually read one of grandma’s articles, you know I love having you here! When you do move out, however, please leave behind the white noise machines as granddad and I won’t be able to sleep without them.>
Who needs a kitchen table when a Baby Diego Cub Zone keeps 9-month-old cubs Cora and Cole safe and entertained?