Fatherhood²: Ten Top Tips for Taming Toddling Terror
With my youngest, Freddie, now happily toddling round the house (albeit using furniture supports – for now at least) I’m suddenly reminded of how much terror a tumbling-toddler can enflict on a nervous parent with their new-found mobility.
Whilst most of this should be common sense, I wanted to remind myself (and you, if it’s relevant) of some of the best way to keep your little darling safe in these exciting, mobile times. So I did what any self-respecting (read: lazy) parent does and asked my Facebook friends for some tips.
Here’s ten of the best tips they (and I) came up with:
- Doors doors doors – whilst most child-proofing situations will tell you to avoid dangerous doors, they can actually be a real toddler deterrent in some situations: namely, tempting ones. I don’t know about you, but the moment both of mine were old enough to crawl to my DVD racks, they took great delight in rearranging them (again and again). Swapping our shelves for similar ones with doors would have saved me a lot of stress (in hindsight!)
- Avoid the lock-ins – whilst that phrase may conjure-up memories of the Crystal Maze, you won’t be chuckling when your toddler locks themselves in the bathroom. Or worse still, locks YOU in the garage (as happened to my sister-in-law). If you don’t NEED the lock on the door, save yourself the stress and take it off/out!
- It’s rude to stair – It’s no longer just about ‘stair gates‘ – the knowledgeable parent now carries a collapsible safety gate with them, apparently. Easily foldable and able to be erected at a moment’s notice, these portable miracles allow you to cordon-off any area of yours or a friend’s house.
- Avoid a brush with poo – Toilet brushes are another household staple that looks a LOT more appealing to a toddler’s eyes. And unlike most ornaments or breakables where the only cost is replacing them, a toilet brush contains a much grosser fate. So swap the old variety for one of those fancy disposable varieties.
- Acts of brotherly love – if your toddler has smaller siblings, they’ll invariably discover that some of their heavier toys can be used as excellent missiles for aiming at their little brother or sister. Make sure you sift out the heavier items from your toy box before a trip to casualty becomes a necessity…!
- Cut the cord – This one doesn’t seem like much of a light-hearted item, particularly after you’ve watched this excellent informational video about blind safety. But it’s definitely an important message to heed – avoid those retractable cords if they’re anywhere near your little one.
- Little electronic wizards – I don’t know about you, but I’m always engaged in conversations with other parents about how kids are getting in to technology at younger and younger ages. But one annoying side-effect of this change is the seeming ability for toddlers to make your electronics do things you have NO idea how to undo. A few random smashes of hands on the computer keyboard might seem like innocent fun at the time, but you’ll be wishing you’d avoided it when the little-un finds the exact key combination to make your screen turn upside down, and you can’t figure out how to undo it!
- How absorbent is that sofa? – despite all your best efforts, a toddler will find a way to spill liquids on EVERYTHING you own, with very few exceptions. If you don’t want it spilt-on, just put it away. Because if you don’t, it WILL get something spilt on it. It’s just one of the laws of nature, apparently.
- Feline groovy – if like us you have pets, you’ll inevitably find yourself faced (eventually) with a toddler munching away on your pets’ food. Whilst this isn’t particularly dangerous (they’re all fit for human consumption – they have to be, apparently) it IS quite gross. So keep that pet food out of reach.
- Don’t toddler-proof everything – this might seem like a strange one, but it works. If you toddler-proof your entire house, not only will your toddler LOOK for mischief, they’ll also have a very unrealistic view of what houses are like – which becomes more of a problem when visiting other people’s houses. Leave SOME things out (piles of magazines, boxes etc) with the express aim of teaching them how to act when confronted with potential mischief!
So those are my tips. Thanks to everyone who helped me put the list together – you are all excellent.
Before I finish, I’ll leave you with one bonus tip – one which is very close to my heart after an ‘incident’ last week: namely, put those pens away. Here’s the only proof you need, along with it’s very guilty-looking perpetrator: