I much prefer child training to child proofing,
especially since I've come to find out that there really
is no such thing as child "proofing" anyway.
I also think that you should be watching any child under
2 years of age (at least) virtually constantly,
especially if he's had little or no training.
My 17 month old has to stay in whatever room I'm in
unless someone else is watching him. He has been taught
not to climb on the table or play in the potty or touch
the oven, but at his age, I can't depend on him to
always obey, so I watch him. The training I've given him
makes life much easier for the both of us, but I still
don't trust him enough to let him play in another room
Don't depend on child proofing. It's amazing what they
can get into even if you are trying your best to child
In 21 years of having small children, I've had at least six
close calls with my young ones and drowning. Most of
these incidents were with pools (one was a tub incident,
and one was a lake incident) and with children who were
old enough to walk (2 to 5 years old). Okay, so they
really were not that close, but only because I was
practically within arm's reach. In all of these
cases my children would have drowned if I had not
been right there to grab them. The point is: WATCH
I would never leave a child under two, or maybe even
three or older, alone in the tub to answer the phone or
do anything else. (Especially not answer the phone, it's
too easy to become distracted - let it ring.)
Another major danger to think about is the
chance that your child, even at 3 or 4 or 5 years old,
might grab the hot water spigot and turn it on. That
could cause very serious burns. Don't take the chance.
Toilets are another major danger. Last week I found my
17 month old standing in the potty! I was just outside
the bathroom within sight of him and watching him out of
the corner of my eye, yet I didn't notice him climb in.
That's another reason I think parents should always
be watching their young children and keeping them with
them (in the same room or where they can easily see
them). What if he had fallen in head first! these
incidents can still happen even when the parent is close
by! Results could have been devastating if I'd have left
him alone for even a few minutes.
Right now I have a 17 month old and I would not dream
of leaving the bathroom for even a split second while he
was in the tub. I also have a just turned 3 year old and
a just turned 4 year old, and I "might" leave
them for a few seconds if there was only 2 or 3
inches of water in the tub. Since I don't dare leave
them, I stay and clean the bathroom while they are
bathing, or read a book right in there, or play with
them, or else I scrub them up and get them out.
I hardly child proof at all, but I do lock up poisons,
make sure certain gates are locked, etc. I don't think
I'm over protective, but I am very safety
conscious when there is a real danger.
P.S. Don't forget pets. I once allowed a woman I knew to
take home a litter of my beautiful Himalayan kittens.
She shut them in her bathroom when she went out to run
an errand. I had to answer her sobbing phone call later
that day when she came home and found that 3 of the
kittens had fallen into the open toilet and drowned. :-(
Question: I'd never leave my 8 month old in the
tub alone, but I don't see a problem with leaving my 2
and 5 year olds together in the tub for a few minutes.
I'm sure the 5 year old would tell me if something was
wrong. Am I missing something here?
Answer: Please, please reconsider what you've
been doing. (I know you will.) It is way too
dangerous to leave a 2 year old with a 5 or 6 or
sometimes even a 7 year old. My 6 year old is very
well-behaved and responsible for a 6 year old (he's
naturally mild mannered and sweet) but I don't think he could
do anything if he were in charge and a younger one was
in trouble. He can not even pick up my 18 month old when
he is on dry land, how could he handle him all wet and
slippery in the tub? It would be even harder with an
Sometimes, in a tight situation, they just don't think
either. They really don't know what to do. They might
not even think to scream or call out to you. Once, some
years ago, I left my two daughters in the tub together.
I think they were about 5 and 9 years old. The 5 year
old started to overheat and started crying. I was just
around the corner in the family room, but could not hear
her at all.
Finally the 9 year old got out of the tub and came and
told me. When I got there the 5 year old was beet red
and crying, looked exhausted and like she was about to
faint (which could be deadly in a tub). I got her out
and cooled her off and she was fine, thankfully.
Afterwards, I asked her why she didn't just get out
of the tub. She gave me this totally dumbfounded look.
It had never even occurred to her to do that! Even her
older sister hadn't thought of it! That made me realize
that in a dangerous situation, you can't depend on
children to think and act like an adult would, even when
they are nine or ten!
Question: I'm wondering what guideline to set for
allowing my daughter to go swimming alone. Right now I'm
thinking that when she can demonstrate that she knows
how to float, how to tread water for a couple of minutes
and when she can swim a couple of lengths of the pool,
that ought to be enough. What do you say?
Answer: Well actually, that doesn't sound
strict enough. At least not to me. We have our own pool
at home and live on a lake as well. My 9 year old can do
all the things you've mentioned, but I would still never
allow him to go to the pool alone to swim. (By alone I
mean without a responsible adult who can swim well.) The
things you mention are the bare minimum before I will
even let my kids go near the pool without me
watching. Otherwise they must stay outside of the fence
that surrounds our pool.
You see, once a child can do the things you mention,
that might save him if he accidentally falls in, or gets
too far into the deep end, but it won't help if he
panics, and it won't help if perhaps the playing gets
out of hand and the other kids start dunking him, etc.
I'd say that when he can swim 5 or 6 times the length of
the pool without touching bottom, and knows and keeps
all the safety rules reliably, then he might be a
good enough swimmer to know what to do in a dangerous
situation and he might not panic in a scary one.
That's when I'd let him go to the pool without me or
another responsible adult. My 12 year old is just at
that point now, after swimming on a community swim team
almost every day all last summer. With a younger child
I'd still want to take into consideration who else will
be swimming with them, and of course no one should swim
I grew up on the water and love it, but I have great
respect for it too.