I was born in 1969. I don’t know how much childproofing or babyproofing my parents did when I was born. I don’t think cabinet safety locks and door knob safety covers were even invented then. I know seat belts weren’t even mandatory, and child car seats had barely been invented. How did so many of us live past the age of 5?
One of my mom’s favorite stories is how when I was very little, I proudly announced to her that I had brushed my teeth all by myself. When she asked where I got the water from, I took her hand in my grubby little fist and led her to the bathroom where I happily pointed at the toilet. When I had my own children, they wouldn’t have been able to lift the toilet lid due to an applied toilet lock, much less get past the bathroom door which also had a child-safety lock attached to it.
Moms today, we have so many devices we can use to wrangle our babies and kids in. We have playpens, swings, baby “soothing” chairs, high chairs, car seats, bassinets, cribs, rotating activity centers and slings we can wear across our bodies. I think my own mom had a baby blanket on the floor. When she wasn’t carrying me around while chasing after my older sister who was barely out of toddler-hood, I was either in a crib, on the floor, or on her bed surrounded by king-size pillows to ensure I didn’t roll off the bed. My mom also recounts how once when she was busy making dinner she found my older sister standing at the top of two flights of steep wooden stairs holding me swaddled in blankets, starting to carry me down the stairs to my mother because I was crying. There were no baby gates back in the day.
I’m sure, growing up, I was dropped way more than once. I’m sure I ate things I found on the floor that I shouldn’t have. I’m sure no one was terrified I would eat laundry detergent. Although my parents kept me from harm’s way, they didn’t have all the safety devices and childproofing methods that so many parents have access to when they give birth now. Some parents even hire childproof safety companies to childproof their homes as soon as they discover they are pregnant. My mom was a free range parent before they were free range parents. Not because it was trendy, but because nothing have been invented yet!
I’m sure a lot of the paranoia about childproofing today comes from the fact that back in the day there were so many less distractions. My mom was a stay at home mom. Her biggest distractions back then were caring for my older sister, cleaning the house, cooking dinner and doing other “womanly” chores (Probably including applying fake eyelashes.) The distractions of decent TV shows to watch on DVR, Twitter to check, blogs to read, email to check and junk to pin on Pinterest hadn’t been invented yet. No one had computers, people barely had color TVs. When you had a baby, there was nothing to do but care for the baby!
I’m glad parents today have access to so many childproofing gizmos. I know childproofing saves lives every day. But it does amuse me that so many of us outlived our toddler years when so many of these “Must have!” products hadn’t even been invented yet. My mom had her own method of childproofing. It was called “never letting the baby out of your sight.”