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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 22, 2007

Babyproofing proves an unending challenge

By Monica Quock Chan

At first, I thought our newborn daughter just liked to stretch.

Then I began to notice that this so-called stretch enabled her to flip onto her side.

By age 3 months, just when the haze of sleep deprivation was beginning to lift for me, she had figured out how to roll. Both ways. Then she started scooting forward.

Too tired to contemplate babyproofing, I turned to my trusty childcare tomes.

"Keiki aren't supposed to crawl until 6 months at the earliest," I confidently announced to my husband. Then one afternoon, I left her on the bed when the laundry buzzer rang.

A desperate wail sent me dashing back into the bedroom. The little one had crept forward, right onto the floor! I scooped her up, drying her tears while having an am-I-qualified-to-be-a-parent moment.

In case her grandparents are reading this, yes, it was carpeted, and yes, the nurse told me she was fine. However, it was a clear wake-up call to start babyproofing immediately. Our newborn's journey of perpetual motion had begun.

We commenced with safety gates. These blockades yield maximum impact as they barricade entire rooms. However, they can also present a hazard to the uncoordinated adult who tries to step over them, or forgets that they are there. Both my husband and I sport gate-induced bruises on our limbs.

Next on our list was anything electrical. It is unclear what attraction wires hold for keiki, but ours loves to yank and, worse yet, mouth the cords. For devices, wireless is a godsend. But what about the outlets?

My husband attempted to use the basic safety plugs that insert directly into the sockets, only to find out that they required pliers for removal. So we decided to purchase the fancier spring-operated plates. User-friendliness comes at a price, though. The plates cost 15 times as much, multiplied by our discovery that we have over 30 outlets in just the space of a two-bedroom condo. At least the expense of babyproofing is small potatoes compared to the $500,000 (true estimate) that it will cost to send her to college.

Onward to the bathroom. Like most babyproofing gadgets, toilet-lid locks present a challenge to kids AND adults. To add to the fun, every brand operates differently. I have used my friend's childproofed toilet countless times, and am still not sure if I can undo the lock on the first try.

It was time to tackle the rest of the apartment. Everything fragile, heavy, easily swallowed, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous was stored, trashed, bolted or elevated. The only bonus is that babyproofing is like earthquake-proofing, and therefore our place has survived Hawai'i's seismic activity.

After going through every room with a fine-toothed comb, spending countless hours on creative fixes, and even crawling around on the floor trying to spot what the keiki might grab next, we exhaled a sigh of relief.

Then we noticed that our once horizontally positioned infant was beginning to sit ... then pull up ... then stand ....

Ah, babyproofing. The adventure continues.

Monica Quock Chan is a freelance writer who lives in Honolulu with her husband and daughter.