Monday, December 18, 2017

As we prepare our home to welcome a baby, it’s hard to imagine they eventually will start moving around the house. Surprising, but it happens faster then most of us expect! I believe in balancing between safety and “don’t touch anything in the house” style of parenting. First of all, it’s impossible to make your home 100% safe, and it’s better to teach your little ones to be cautious than to hide all obstacles from them. For example, if you have a hardwood floor (like I do), and a comfy couch your child likes to climb on, there is a high chance of him falling down. You can’t remove your couch and change all the floors in the house (unless you really want to), but what you can do is to teach your child how to safely get down to the floor (sliding on their belly). As we all know, things happen and unfortunately we can’t predict which corner your active baby will decide to crawl into. Once, my Vasilisa crawled under a glass coffee table and got stuck under it for a few seconds. Her big brother came to rescue my poor little girl but it was pretty unpredictable to find her there. 

 Last blog post, we spoke about safe environment in your child’s room and/or a play area where you can leave him for some time. Let’s make a list of some tips that will help us in preparing their “happy place”. 
  1.  Corner protectors for shelves or other furniture pieces in the room. Try to minimize the number of furniture and leave more open space for your child to crawl and explore. I am personally a minimalist and have only one small nightstand for the child’s toys, basket on the floor with his books and his floor bed. My three year old has recently moved to an actual bed and my 14 month old is still on the floor. With the nursery and a play area, my golden rule is “the less you have, the better it is”. If you have less toys there is a higher chance your child will actually play with them rather than just run from one full container of “stuff” to another.
  2.  Outlet plug covers is a must have for your little one. As they get older they will understand what is okey to touch and what is not safe to do. Depending on your child’s age, you can skip this tip. Again, they are all different. Some kids learn safety rules and get them quickly, others need to turn five years old before we can trust them to be on their own. I remember when my son asked me why we keep our outlets plugged. That was a great opportunity to teach him a lesson on electricity safety rules. 
  3.  If possible, keep everything on the child’s level. I noticed if we put something high for them not to reach, they most likely will find a way to reach it. And usually their way of doing it is not the safest we would imagine. If there is something you don’t want your baby to touch, it shouldn’t be in his room. I read in one Montessori parenting books a great idea on how to check if your child’s environment is safe. The author recommended to lay down on the floor and look around. Imagine, you are a crawling baby, what would you see? What can you reach and touch? Make sure there is something for a baby to observe on that level. Often, parents think of a cute appealing design of a nursery that we see in a fancy magazine. But the reality is if your child is on the floor near his wall mirror, he would not see any of the portraits high on the wall. He doesn’t need for his “quiet time” masterpiece furniture collection that takes up most of the space and makes it almost impossible to walk around. 
  4.  Keep light and safe toys for your child to reach and play without your presence. Make sure there are no small pieces he might swallow. I prefer wooden toys and there are many reasons for my choice. At the end of the article I will list some of the toys I had in my kid’s nursery for the first year. They are safe and educational that keep your child’s hands and brain busy. Make sure you have your toys on the shelf where the child can reach them. Also, try to avoid large containers where the toys aren’t visible. Instead, choose small baskets with one or two things in them. Ideally, they would organized by subject. For example, have a small basket with two/tree books, 1-2 quiet musical instruments, a few wooden shapes, one puzzle, basket of some vegetables or fruits, a couple farm animals etc. 
  5.  If you decide to have a wall mirror, make sure it’s safe and secure on the wall. Your child will test it one day! Usually, that mirror is removed after a year or so. Little babies love to study their faces from the first weeks of their lives. 
  6.  If possible, switch your changing table to a changing mattress. There are so many injuries every year with children falling from their changing table. When you have them on the floor, you have time to leave them there as long as you need to (wash hands, find a new diaper etc.). Changing tables take too much space and serve us for a short period of time. With my firstborn I had it, with my second we kept only the changing mattress and my daughter loves it. When she started walking, I would ask her to change a diaper, and little Vasilisa would run to her changing mattress and lay down there with a new diaper in her hands. It serves her independency needs and makes her excited to get changed. 
  7.  I know it’s exciting to change things around and move furniture for a fresh look. But, most children get anxious when their room suddenly looks different. It’s difficult for them to handle many changes in their environment. If you really want something new, paint walls in your room, I am sure your husband would appreciate it. But for the first three years of your child’s life try to avoid big changes in his nursery. Their room is a safe and predictable place where they can relax and have peaceful moments. Wait until they get older and save all your designer ideas for later. 
 We discussed some points regarding child’s room and play area safety. But we all know our little explorers move everywhere in the house. When you get a chance, in your kitchen and bathroom, try to move cleaning products from lower shelves to upper. Keep things like toilet paper, containers, paper towels and other “safe” tools on the lower shelves. I personally don’t like cabinet locks that don’t let your children explore their own home. Instead, move things around and make it fun for your little ones to “study” real life toys. And… don’t forget to move your favorite wedding china set! 

 Have fun in preparing your home if you are expecting a new family member or if you just want to change things around to fit your older child's needs!

 Here is my list of products from Amazon that will help you in setting up a child’s friendly environment:

Copyright © My Montessori Family