Childproofing – keeping my expectations realistic

I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Pumpkin is two years old, and has  become so independent lately. She’s no longer falling and bumping her head all over the place (well, for the most part), and not trying to get her hands on every dangerous item she sees (…usually). I can relax a bit and ease off on the supervision, right??

Would you be surprised if I told you that injuries actually increase between the ages of 2 and 3?

At her age, Pumpkin is able to do lots of things on her own. “I do that!” is her favourite expression. When there is no concern for her safety, (and I’ve got the time to indulge her) I let Pumpkin assert her independence as much as she likes. Her pants are often backwards and shoes are sometimes on the wrong feet but she sure is proud of herself!

But, I’m keeping the baby gate. Pumpkin knows how to climb the stairs and how to get back down. The question of keeping the baby gate isn’t so much to do with her ability to climb the stairs; I’m just managing my own expectations of what I think I can reasonably expect from her.

Toddlers and preschoolers need room to make mistakes and to learn from them. And mistakes they will make! When it comes to her safety, I know I’ve got to supervise, “be aware, be there,” and provide guidance and reminders. That’s why I’m keeping the baby gate. There’s just no room for mistakes on our hardwood stairs; it’s a long way down. With her asserting her independence, she often decides to tackle the stairs precariously holding onto the railing – because, well, climbing on hands and knees is “for babies.”

The same goes for other safety situations, such as when around water. She has been told about a kajillion-and-two times that she is not allowed to step foot anywhere in the vicinity of a body of water (other than a little splashing puddle). She seems to understand this but we still watch her like a HAWK around water, and keep her within arms’ reach. Every so often she needs reminders. At this age her ability to resist temptations (“birdie on the water!”) and to remember instructions aren’t quite as developed as they will be in a few years.

Even though we’ve all given our kids instructions and rules about safety hundreds of times, kids don’t understand the concept of danger until they are 9 or 10 years old.  They aren’t deliberately trying to give us grey hairs – their brains just don’t get it, and that’s normal as part of their growth and development. Repeating the instructions won’t make that understanding happen any sooner.

So just because my daughter is becoming more independent (yay!) and remembering more and more of our (consistent!) household rules, it doesn’t mean I can totally relax. But I CAN see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Check out this link for some great tips on teaching your preschooler safety rules. Got any questions about toddler and preschooler safety, or a story to share? There are many ways to connect with us:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet with us @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.


About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you'll find me on Facebook, Twitter and on this blog, writing about all things parenting. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to write about! :)
This entry was posted in Keeping Your Toddler & Preschooler Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Toddlers & Preschoolers, Toddlers & Preschoolers with Special Needs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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