Guest Author: Jackie Quinlan
Fifty-two percent of Americans highlight that being a good parent is important to them and one key aspect of good parenting is keeping your child safe. The childproofing market is growing in America.
As soon as baby starts to crawl or walk, parents rush to childproof the house or call in a childproofing expert. Parents spend an average of $442 on making their homes safe.
Is this expense really necessary? Or is the multi-million-dollar baby industry exploiting parents’ fears and encouraging them to buy products that are not needed?
Dangers in the Home
There are many products on the market designed to help protect your child from home hazards. These include safety gates, outlet covers, furniture corner covers, anti-tip kits for furniture, stove knob covers, drawer, door, and toilet seat locks to name but a few. But what are the dangers in the home that we are trying to protect our children from?
Statistics show that the main cause of death in American children aged 1-4 is unintentional injuries with suffocation and drowning being the leading causes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most incidents occur where there is water, heat or flame, toxic substances or potential for a fall.
No Home is 100% Safe
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has produced a list of 12 safety devices to protect children in the home, pointing out that for devices to be effective, they should be properly installed. They also remind parents that no device is completely childproof. Determined children can be capable of overcoming efforts to keep them safe.
Although safety devices appear to prevent accidents, nothing can make a house completely safe for a child. In fact, having a “fully childproofed” home may actually lull parents into a false sense of security and stop parents from being vigilant about their child’s safety.
The Case for Not Childproofing
There is a school of thought that believes excessive childproofing may actually damage children’s development. They believe wrapping children in cotton wool prevents them from learning how to manage risk themselves. Moreover, emerging research backs this up.
Looking at other cultures and countries, children do not always live in houses that are childproofed to the same extent as American homes. Of course, some items or places will always be a no-go, cleaning materials or swimming pools, for example. However, letting children explore, experiment, discover and manage their own risks. Under parental supervision will help a child learn about how to keep themselves safe and teach them a healthy approach to risk-taking. For example, instead of blocking a child from stairs with a safety gate there are advantages in teaching a child strategies to go up and down stairs safely.
Taking a Step Back
Every parent wants to keep their child safe from harm, especially in their own home. The growing childproofing industry encourages parents to childproof their houses to keep children safe.
As parents, is it important to take a step back and review the risks and take appropriate action. That includes taking into account the need for children to experience and develop their own sense of safety under parental supervision. Moreover, childproofing devices will not make a home completely safe.
Keeping an eye on little ones is still the best way to keep them out of harm’s way.