Thursday, August 17, 2006

Visiting with Baby

By Christina VanGinkel

Have you ever visited someone in their home with baby in tow, only to realize that their home might be the epitome of a beautiful home, but what it is not is baby proof? I have been on both sides of this fence, though my own home would have to be classified somewhere along the lines of comfortable let us say, instead of beautiful! It is however, not baby proof.

With my youngest child nearly fourteen years old and my grandson now three, somewhere in the last few years, my home turned from a place where it was safe for a baby to be to a battle zone of toys and objects definitely not intended for baby. At three, my grandson enjoys playing with my youngest sons retired Ninja Turtle figures, complete with their assortment of miniature weapons and tools. He also loves marbles and Lego's. The Lego's are of the small type, not the big builder blocks that you might envision a toddler playing with. As I write this even, I see the pattern building. The majority of toys that my young grandson plays with when he is at our home are ones that have been passed down to him from our youngest son. Fun boy toys as we refer to them, not baby toys.

This all became apparent this past week when I was watching my grandson for the day and a friend of mine stopped over with her children. Her youngest child is just a few months past one year old. Not long after we seated ourselves in the living room, I noticed that her baby had something in her mouth. It turned out to be a marble, quickly followed by a tiny plastic sword. We then took a quick inspection of the area to identify what other tiny hazards might be floating around and we ended up with quite a stack of things that we had to put away. Most of it items were toys my grandson had been playing with, but a few things belonged to the adults in the house, such as my own bag of yarn with crochet hooks! Without a baby about, it is easy to forget how quickly they can get into things, and what is safe and what is not. Scissors, a candle, an MP3 player, and a bowl with assorted buttons and other tiny embellishments that I had been sorting through from my scrapbook table were all items we found at a level that she could easily reach.

If you find yourself visiting at a friend's or relative's home do not assume that, the area your child might be playing in is baby proof, even if the people are welcoming, as I was with my friend. When a young child is not constantly underfoot, it is easy for an area to be turned into a space that is not friendly for little mouths and curious fingers.

Even my footstool turned out to be a hazard, as it is a rocker style, and when my friend's daughter pulled herself up onto it, it rocked, and down she fell amidst a blaze of tears. I was actually a bit surprised to realize just how unsafe my home had become for a baby. With my grandson only three, some of the items we moved should not have been about with him even. The scissors for example were of the safety kind, the sort you might find in the average kindergartener's backpack, yet with my grandson's past record of cutting holes in his clothing the last time he got a hold of a pair of scissors, I know better.

Some things though, like my bag of yarn, are often about. When my grandson was smaller, I always made sure to keep it up out of his reach. Now, he loves to sit with his own ball of yarn while I am crocheting and his own giant Q sized hook and try to copy me.

If you are visiting with baby, do not assume an area is safe for baby just because you were invited or they welcomed you warmly. Adults that do not have a baby about, quickly forget just how many common, everyday objects can be hazardous to small children. Take a few minutes to scan the room for dangers, and if your host is not open to moving a few things, making the place safe for baby, keep baby on your lap, making the visit as short as you can. It is up to us to make sure that anywhere we take baby is a safe environment. If it is not, it is our duty to remove them from the space.

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