Smart strategies for childproofing as a guest in someone's home
The goal is temporary solutions that won't impose too much upon your hosts, but will keep your child safe and help you all relax and enjoy your visit.
Tip 1: Do a mental walk-through of your hosts' home.
What issues do you think might come up, based on your child's current level of activity-and interests?
> Some examples:
- Are there stairs?
- Is there a dog or other pet?
- Are there fragile knick-knacks in easy reach of your child?
- Is there a deck or porch with wide railings or stairs?
- Is there a fireplace or woodstove?
- Are there older children in the home with toys that may not be safe for yours?
Tip 2: Before you arrive, talk through any safety concerns you deal with at home and those you think might be an issue during your visit:
- Is your child a "climber"?
- Does your host have a pet that may not appreciate an eager child?
- Or on the other hand, is your child terrified of dogs?
- Does your child have any allergies they should be aware of?
Tip 3: On arrival, try to get a child's-eye view of the home. This can be a bit awkward if your hosts see you on your hands and knees checking under the sofa! (This can also be a bit overwhelming if the house is really decorated for the holiday!)
- Where are the candy dishes or nut bowls?
- Which lamps are the most interesting-and vulnerable?
- Is the stereo readily accessible?
- Are there prescription drugs, ointments, drops, or vitamins within plain view?
- Where are the pet food dishes?
Tip 4: While you're there, always appoint ONE person at a time to be "in charge" of watching your child and make eye contact when you pass the baton. In a group, it is surprisingly easy to relax and assume that with so many adults around the child is safe, but that's often when-and how problems arise.
Great gadgets and gear for temporary, on-the-go childproofing:
DoorMouse Finger Guard, slips onto a door up where adults can reach it but children cannot to help prevent kids from locking themselves in bathrooms, etc., and from getting fingers pinched in doorways. An adult just slips it off when they want privacy or when you're heading home
Garden Training Wire - Plastic coated very flexible wire used for supporting and training vines also works wonders on childproofing curio cabinets, china hutches, and many places where other childproofing cabinet locks may not fit.
Doorknob safety covers - They snap over the regular doorknob but can only be squeezed and turned by an adult's (or older child's) hand to help keep little ones out of bathrooms and other off-limits areas.
Pack 'N Play or portacrib with high sidewalls to help prevent your child from wandering after her nap or during the night. Also helpful if you'll be visiting on a deck, near the fire, or in another area where it isn't quite safe for crawling kids or toddlers.
Superyard - a folding 6-panel fence you can use to create either a "kid corral" filled with toys in a safe area in your hosts' home, or use to help fence off a Christmas tree or fireplace.
Tip 5: Rent bulkier items like portacribs, Superyards, and safety gates at your destination. An international directory of baby gear rental agencies is online at www.travelswithbaby.com.
About Shelly Rivoli
Shelly Rivoli has traveled with a baby in tow across the U.S., over both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and around the Mediterranean Sea. Together, her family has made its way by airplane, elephant, subway, train, cruise ship, taxi, and long tail boat. After changing diapers in Thailand, Tunisia, Manhattan, Yosemite, Paris, Chichen Itza, Hawaii, and Pompeii, she has grown quite familiar with the technical details of traveling--and sightseeing--with babies, toddlers, and young children.
Shelly's travel guidebook, Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children, received a 2008 NAPPA Gold Award in Parenting Resources from the National Parenting Publications Awards and was a finalist for two ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. Her family travel tips and advice have appeared in national parenting magazines, including Pregnancy, Parents, Parenting, and Nick Jr. Magazine, and on popular parenting websites and blogs including Babble.com, Urban Baby Daily, and aParentlySpeaking.
Shelly travels as often and as far as she can with her husband and two young daughters. The rest of the time, she hangs her hats (as mother and writer) in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can be found online at www.travelswithbaby.com. Contact Shelly at firstname.lastname@example.org