How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Parent Proofing

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Fragile Baby Proofing

I’m alright with some basic baby proofing. For those of you without babies (and a low IQ) this has nothing to do with birth control.

Cabinet locks are great for anyone who doesn’t want their kid freshening up their breath with Raid bug spray, sure. And some stick-on foam for the sharp corners of a coffee table can be a great deterrent to your child growing up with the nickname “One-Eyed Willie,” but one can take it too far.

Leashes: Pets are great, especially when they’re kids? Helmets: look at how happy she is! Potty mitts: potty training is easy when you add putting gloves on to the process. Face masks: uhhh…

Baby face masks, padded head gear, potty gloves, leashes, bottle padding, anti-strangulation shoelace pouches or homing-devices just sound like someone needs a cup of chamomile tea and some time to rethink things.

When Lucas first started crawling, Lizzie presented me with knee pads she had bought for him. I stared at them in poorly disguised horror. They were lime green. After she said something about protecting his knees, she may have made some comment about them matching an outfit, but at that point I don’t think much was registering.

Look. I was an adventurous toddler; never wore shoes, climbed trees, hung from clothes lines, fell from broken clothes lines… good ol’ days stuff, where men were men, and kids were, too.

Oh the horror.

In a daze, I felt the nubby rubber surface of the pads and, being as supportive as I could, I told her that if she bought Lucas a helmet, we were going to have some serious problems.

The day she finally got around to strapping the things onto the lad, you cannot know my relief. She set Lucas down on our hardwood flooring and he proceeded slip and slide all over the place. Dramatically so, like a car peeling out on ice. He gave up and started crying. She took them off right away and held up a finger that said, “Not one word! I’m a first-time mother and it was worth a shot! I care about our son and if you care about your life you won’t say anything!”

I love her dearly, and am a big fan of staying alive, so I kept my face even and my mouth shut. But, it may be the only time hearing my son cry made me happy.

30 Comments

30 Responses to “Parent Proofing”

  1. Avara says:

    So funny! And on Lizzie’s behalf…I probably would have bought them to try if I had seen them. Instead, I bought every pant made at Baby Gap that had these soft “crawling pads” sewn into them. Kinda the same thing. Just not lime green. Lime green…great, now I’m craving jelly beans…exactly what I DON’T NEED. Thanks, Andy.

    • andy says:

      You’re welcome. Jelly Bean cravings are a common side effect to HowToBeADad.com. Don’t be mad, we can’t control it. It’s practically science.

      For the record, padded sleeves and knees on clothes are NOT the same as knee pads. One is functional and stylish, the other… is not.

  2. Desiree says:

    I saw a baby wearing the headgear yesterday. He looked miserable and embarrassed and apathetic. I’m almost positive I wasn’t projecting onto him.

    But seriously, what’s the point when your a toddler of trying the world out, if your mom’s going to protect you from actually breathing it in or touching it with your knees/hands/head/skin?

    • charlie says:

      Totally agree. Some headgear, like one I saw today, was for a medical purpose at which point I am TOTALLY BEHIND THIS 100%. But if it’s the case of a soccer mom who can’t bear little “Johnny” scraping his knees or Etch-A-Sketching his brain matter just a little bit, what’s the sense in being a boy. Or a badass girl for that matter.

      • andy says:

        I read an article where one mom’s explanation was “medical.” At the top of the article, it was all medical terms and fancy sleep pattern names, but when I got to the end it turned out these were just justifications for her dislike for the odd shape of his head as a baby, that it would been fine later. So, even the medical explanation is being stretched. Tricky issue.

        • Desiree says:

          As a toddler, I was dropped on my head once, smashed myself through a window, scraped and scarred every available joint on my body, ate paint chips, stuck things in my mouth that no one above the age of three considers tasty and still made it to adulthood with all my faculties intact. (I hope.) More importantly, my sense of adventure was intact as well.

  3. MotherDuck says:

    A mis-shapen head is the reason I couldnt tie 80’s hair bows around my head. It’s so flat back there they would just ride up. I still wouldn’t trade 80’s hair bows for having to wear a helmet for the first year of my life. I’m also guilty as a child of releasing fellow children of their safety harnesses. I told my mom when I was caught that “their moms think their dogs!”

  4. Jessica says:

    Ok this is EXACTLY why I started my own clothing line for crawlers & toddlers. I totally get the new mom thing – wanting to protect your little munchkins. But the industrial strength knee pads were out of the question! My goal with PeeWee Patch Kids… function meets fashion. You still want your kid to look cute!

    • andy says:

      We receive so much automated spam to our site that we’ve been relentless in flagging/refusing it, but your post is actually relevant and written by a human being. Yay! Plus, your stuff looks rad!

  5. ZethByrd says:

    Ah, the good old days. We had a family doctor who MADE HOUSE CALLS to kids with chicken pox and measles. And who scolded me when he had to put in a stitch on my finger – no anathesia (which would have been another needle anyway). When I was a baby (I was the first), my mom called him and told him I was eating grass in the back yard. His response? It’s good for her. When my mom asked when she could stop sterilizing bottles, he asked her why she was doing that – I was crawling all over and putting things in my mouth. END of that silliness.

    Since I knew those stories, I just worked on the basis of put the sharp things up, block the top of the stairs, and try to keep them from climbing out the first floor windows that were at ground level. That last was less than completely successful. I found the two of them down the long backyard block, across the street and in the park. I wasn’t worried about the kids (they were about 5 and 3) more about the crazies in the world. They all grew up.

    • Lacey S says:

      We didn’t even bother blocking the top of the stairs, and just taught him how to crawl up and down them without slipping TOO often. But I will admit it, I use a leash. I use it to teach him how to walk along a road without running into it, I use it to teach him how to keep by my side in a busy mall and I use it to teach him that we do NOT throw ourselves off the ends of Ferries (Yah, Seattle!). He’s a fast little sucker and I am NOT going to carry him when he could use burning off some of that energy. And it’s like going to a restaurant – if you don’t ever do it because you’re afraid of what your kid will do, then they’ll never learn how to behave themselves down the line!

      • MamaThairish says:

        I agree Lacey, I used a harness/strap with my toddler to give her MORE FREEDOM when otherwise she would have to be strapped in a stroller or held by me for her own safety (hiking near cliffs/rivers/oceans, walking along busy streets. For kids who are early walkers and take a while longer to learn to listen/understand “STOP!” it’s a life saver. And I’m very laissez-faire in parenting style, bare minimum baby-proofing (knives and poisons) and let her explore to heart’s content. She could climb the 15′ rock wall on the 5-12 year old playground by age 2 (with me spotting, but not touching her).

  6. geeb says:

    I think also that some of these things – like those slippy knee pads – actually retard healthy kids’ development. Babies are SUPPOSED to crawl on their bellies to build their arms and back strength – using the walkers screws up their backs. Some bacteria is good for kids – builds their immune systems. I read some article where nurses at a hospital called CPS to take a baby away from new parents because they were going to check out of the hospital and handle their baby’s jaundice at home – all three of my kids were born with jaundice and the handling is breast feed them in the sun – it went right away and I think sometimes that’s normal.

    Some people can be just too freaked out, it’s life, millions of us have already successfully done this.

    • andy says:

      I completely agree! I think that one can kind of create weak, disadvantaged individuals with early-life safety and hygiene products and parenting that coddles and denies experience and growth.

      P.S. Lucas was slightly jaundiced at birth, too. Same Mother Nature handling did the trick, breastfeeding in sun. It was funny, equipped with a beach towel, I was a human screen for her outdoor exposure.

  7. Russ says:

    HAHA! I loved this! We eased up on the baby proof stuff on our second kid….big time. Never did the knee pads. I am with you on that one! I don’t get those things! Babies are all baby fat; little Michelin creatures with rolls and rolls of god given protective chub. It’s the grown ups, with our old, battered, chincy knees that need the help!

    Loved this post!

    • andy says:

      LOL! So funny how it is with the ones after the first I’ve observed. It’s some kind of scale. The first one is treated like a paper-thin crystal sculpture, then second not so much… by the 8th or more, seems like moms are using the kids head to scrub out those hard-to-remove carpet stains. Thanks for the love!

  8. Kat says:

    they really only need two dozen cloth diapers, maybe 5 t-shirts, maybe pajamas in the summer if you run the air conditioner. They could sleep in a drawer-instead of cradle or basinet…lol..a couple of blankets and bottles, babies aren’t really expensive, just their momma’s wants him/her to have nice things….lol..baby doesn’t know he’s in the drawer..yes, I have seen it done….lol

  9. But helmets with little droopy ears are sooooo cute [gag].

    I love this topic and have written about it myself (specifically on using the leash). I also just bought an interesting new book called, “Free Range Kids”, which deals with how safety-crazy we’ve become. It’s definitely interesting to see the difference between how we were as kids and how we are raising our kids. Ever heard of it?

    Now if you’ll excuse me, my son just got his safety bubble jammed between the cabinet and the refrigerator. I have to go free him.

    • Andy says:

      Ha ha ha ha! I’m slightly familiar with the Free Range Kids author’s story and she make some points that I can really agree with. I have too, if just for the fact that I was a free range kid and I don’t care too much for judgmental hypocrisy. 😉

      Good luck with the bubble! LOL!

  10. Shilpa says:

    huh. We’re on our 1st and I think we’re very relaxed compared to some of our friends… we have cupboard locks to protect our stuff from inquisitive fingers – am still amazed and annoyed that our daughter opened the cupboard, ejected a game form the Wii and scratched it by rubbing it on the floor (*sob!)

    I think it’s probably from when I fell over on my front 7 months pregnant and she came out fine!

    • Andy says:

      Regarding the mental picture of your little one scrubbing the floor with a game disc: AAARRGG! Regarding falling on your front: AAAAAAAAARRRGGGG!!!

  11. Cbass says:

    I feel ya! My wife tries to teach our 2 year old not to climb shelves, etc. I teach her how to get back down 🙂

  12. What happened to the days of slapping a Hulkamania bandana on your kid and some wristbands and letting him leg-drop the house to his delight?

  13. Monica says:

    Today my 11 month old son was running around in the house (yes, he walks and runs!), he tripped and went head down on the floor missing a step that goes into the family room. He fell head first and hit the very same spot that he hits every time. Perhaps the spot is now desensitized since he only cried for a minute or two, but I made a grave mistake by posting a picture on facebook. Let me tell you, I got quite a large number of calls from the grandparents and other extended family that I should buy him a helmet. Thanks, but no thanks!

  14. Laura says:

    Just a thought, ever wonder why baby are so fat… natural padding anyone?

  15. Amanda says:

    This is one of those cases for the cloth diapers– extra padding when he falls! My little boy just turned one and has already been licked by about a hundred dogs (our “first” child is an agility dog, so he goes around a LOT of dogs), eaten the cat food, and I can tell he’s thirsty when he drinks from the dog’s water fountain. Germs, what germs? He’s been going up the stairs for a couple months now, but hasn’t figured out how to get back down…by the time we get around to putting the gate up, he’s probably not going to need it anymore.

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