Baby safety clutter

baby-knee-padsI’m not exactly sure how I survived my early days as a baby without the ever-expanding assortment of infant safety products. After browsing through an unsolicited baby product magazine that I received  in the mail, I am now aware of the slew of products that over-protective parents just can’t live without.

Here are some of the outrageous products that my parents never once considered buying for me, and that I did not consider buying for my little one’s safety:

  • Snazzy Baby Knee Pads (pictured): My daughter learned to crawl on hardwood floors and she didn’t even have the luxury of knee pads. How will she ever forgive me?
  • Walking Wings: According to this Pediatrician Recommended product, your baby can learn to walk without the fear of falling. I don’t know about you, but I think kids need to fall once in a while. (Also, I’d be afraid my kids arms would be ripped out of their sockets if I used this thing!)
  • Mommy I’m Here Child Locator: Are you always misplacing your child? Now you can watch your stories without having to pay too much attention to your toddler. Since this teddy bear only works up to 150 feet and if your child is carrying it, this locator is pointless as a child Lo-Jack device.
  • Video Monitor: This device is for the Big Brother in all of us. Why stop at simply listening to your child when you can watch their every move with this day and night video monitor? It even has night vision!

Yes, these items go overboard, but there is certainly a need for child safety in your home. Below are items that we actually use for our little explorer. They keep her safe, but they don’t make her feel like she can’t do anything on her own.

  • Outlet Covers: Tiny holes in the walls are awfully inviting to little fingers.
  • Door Knob Covers: Opening and closing doors is a favorite hobby of many toddlers. Door knob covers put a stop to this and make sure that little fingers aren’t caught in door jams.
  • Cabinet Latches: These keep cleaning products and other dangerous household items cabinets and drawers inaccessible from your children.
  • Baby Gate: If you have stairs in your home, gates help to keep your child from tumbling down.

If you are a first-time parent and are worried about the safety of your child, take a deep breathe and relax. Your child will definitely get sick and sustain a few bumps and bruises along the way — it is simply part of childhood. Do your best to protect them, but remember children also need to develop their independence.

47 Comments for “Baby safety clutter”

  1. posted by jessi on

    sometimes a video monitor really is a necessity… I don’t think it’s fair to lump that in with baby knee pads and baby lojack.

  2. posted by molly on

    I was surprised at how quickly my son learned to open the baby cabinet latches and baby gate! By 13 months, he had figured them all out. My favorite has been the helmet to protect your child’s head when learning to walk (!). Clearly, there are people buying these things or else I wouldn’t continually see them. I guess some people have a high tolerance for clutter and a low tolerance for risk.

  3. posted by Amanda on

    Maybe you could use these items to stimulate problem solving as in the case of Molly, her son figured them all out, one smart kid.

  4. posted by Serene Journey on

    Ha! Some of these are pretty funny. Granted some are very useful like the outlet covers, door knob covers and baby gates but others are, like you say, a bit over protective. I can’t tell you how many times a day my toddler whacks his head on the floor or tables while he’s mastering walking. He just gets up, shakes it off and continues on his merry way. They’re a lot tougher than us first time parents give them credit for, it’s how they learn.

  5. posted by Springpeeper on

    Excellent post!

  6. posted by Kira =] on

    Yeah, I only use the outlet covers, doorknob covers, cabinet latches, & baby gates. They are the only necessities for us & our 3 little ones. I look forward to when the baby outgrows a lot of the other baby clutter we have and I can get rid of it. (exersaucer, walker, highchair, infant toys, etc.)

  7. posted by Jennifer on

    There’s nothing like becoming a parent to make you realize how fear-based our culture really is. And parents are the primary target. I stopped reading parenting magazines long ago because their main purpose is to create a fear and then show you products to make you feel better.

  8. posted by jkw on

    i make no judgement, i have no kids. but, i LOVE to think of the stroller my ma used for me & my sis – the frame made completely of steel tubes (with plastic saftey caps on the end – that came off easily) connected with bolts! and when we were older, we got to have it for pushing around our dolls & stuffed animals. I don’t remember any accidents, but certainly someone had a pinched finger along the way!

    I am abhorred by the rounding of the points on doritos. I know, that happened like 15 years ago.

  9. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    Note: I deleted a slew of comments from people who didn’t read the article. If you were one of those people whose comment is now missing, please READ the article before commenting again.

  10. posted by Teresa on

    For the average child the video monitor is a bit much. My first five kids survived without it but number six has breathing problems and a feeding tube so the video monitor is a necessity.

  11. posted by momofthree on

    socket covers–a must–still use them because friends and family have little ones that visit.

    doorknob covers–didn’t need ‘em, didn’t even knew they existed until #3 was done toddling.

    cabinet latches–didn’t use em, just made sure everything in lower cabinets was kid friendly.

    baby gate–use only one, to keep little crawling brother out of big sisters bedroom when they were playing with games and toys with little pieces.

    CAR SEATS–aren’t they now a law in most states?

    Playpen–used the port a crib to protect the younger one all the time from over zealous old sibling/s while I was making dinner or working in the yard

    “NO”–a parent’s most powerful tool. A simple “no” worked wonders in my house (and my kids respected me, and now that they are all teens, still do!!)

  12. posted by anonymous on

    Earth To Be Made Child-Safe
    Planet Renamed ‘Sportin’ Kids Family Fun Play Globe’

    NEW YORK—Under heavy pressure from safety-conscious parents groups around the world, the U.N. General Assembly approved a plan yesterday to make the earth child-safe by the year 2000.

    Renamed the Sportin’ Kids Family Fun Play Globe, the planet will be biologically and topographically overhauled to provide youngsters worldwide with a safe, unimposing, family-oriented environment full of colorful, round-edged objects and plush items.

    [read the rest of this article at http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30359 ]

  13. posted by the milliner on

    Timely post for us. The wee one is learning how to crawl & I’m pretty sure he’ll be mobile very soon. I’ve opted for the moderate approach as well – gates, locks, outlet covers. Basically protect things that could kill or seriously injure the little guy.

    I’ll also probably protect the corners of the coffee table (or upholster it with a foam cushion to double as an ottoman). While smacking his head against the edges, or worse, corners, probably wouldn’t do major damage, I’d prefer to avoid any serious gashes from the piece of furniture he’s most likely to be playing around, if we can.

  14. posted by Melissa (oddharmonic) on

    When my kiddo was a toddler, we upgraded from regular cabinet latches to magnetic ones after watching her figure out the regular latches and close herself in a cabinet. They are also good for pets that paw at cabinet doors.

    One essential item I would add to your list: tip-resistant furniture and appliance straps. I learned about them from relatives living in an earthquake-prone area and use them on my bookcases, china cabinet, a tall dresser, and our television.

  15. posted by Brandon on

    It’s amazing how much money can be made by playing on the fears of new parents.

  16. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    Good list, although I admit I have the video monitor, but aside from the excuse that I’m a technophile and worked in video, we found it very useful to check on our son without waking him by accident.

    But Walking Wings? Really? Ha!

  17. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    Oh – on a side note regarding money to be made off new parents from fear, here’s a question about money to be made off new parents in general…

    How did Einstein get so smart without those Baby Einstein videos?

  18. posted by Sharon on

    Gotta say- the video monitor is pretty nifty- not having to wake the kid up to check on them, not straining to hear the sound monitors. This is not a necessity, but could be very useful.

  19. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    BTW – The video monitor we got was a wireless one we found at Sam’s Club. It was not marketed as a Baby Monitor, but the portable video screen had controls to pan and tilt the camera remotely. It was only about $150 or so. A little pricy, but it worked wonders putting my wife’s new mom fears to rest – no pun intended.

  20. posted by JC on

    We used the basic outlet covers, cupboard latch on the sink cupboard (nothing toxic in there, just gross from prior tenants leaks), and a baby gate and playpen to give the dog a break from the baby. We adhere to the chick hatching theory, challenges make a stronger creature.

    When our son was just getting to the point of climbing out of his crib, we moved him into a pup tent set up in his room. We just put his crib mattress, some light blankies, and a few toys in there and pinned the zipper shut from the outside. We didn’t have to worry about him climbing out etc… and we could sleep in!

    Of course, most parenting magazines would use me as an example of what NOT to do. I let my son and daughter run through the woods in summer, play pirate with pointy swords, and play outside when it’s -20 F. Oh, and they are both in karate and spar at the house. No one’s been to the doc for injuries and my kids are having a great time, developing their own imaginations, while not turning their brains to mush in front of a television or video game machines.

  21. posted by Rhea - Experiencing Motherhood on

    We are trying to get pregnant with our first baby so I’m not sure what we’ll need and what we won’t, but I’m pretty sure the walking wings won’t be on the list!

  22. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    I know there are lots of products out there you don’t really need for a baby, but I have to say I kinda like the idea of the knee pads, although I have now had three babies and never used them for any of them.

    I have no idea if they would actually work, but I know our last child so vigorously crawled around on the carpeted and non-carpeted floor she rubbed her knees nearly raw when she was first learning. That is because she was still try to actually move forward, and her rocking back and forth trying to move forward (or backward, which you know they do first a lot) caused friction and rubbing on her knees.

    We solved this problem, to a degree, by having her wear long pants instead of shorts which she was previously wearing that summer. But maybe knee pads would have been the way to go. Even the pants caused some friction and rubbing which made her knees red.

    The problem I see with the knee pads is they look slick, so I am afraid the baby could not actually crawl well in them, which is the whole point. Plus, it is a really short phase where she had red knees, and it has now passed. Probably would have passed before they got shipped to us through the mail if we ordered on the internet.

  23. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Taylor — Because of my skin disorder, I never crawled. The doctors told my mom that crawling would rip the skin off of my knees (which it would have). So, I went from sitting to walking. If a kid starts wearing skin off of his/her knees, just pick the kid up and don’t let him/her crawl. It’s a lot less expensive than child knee pads.

  24. posted by Jan on

    I am soooo not a helicopter parent, but you can have my video monitor when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

    We used ours at night with the sound off. Baby cries loud and long enough to awaken me, I can roll over and without even getting out of bed, look to see if there’s really a problem and I’m needed or this is just “I woke up and I shall cry” crying.

    But that walking wings thing? I have no words.

  25. posted by Janet on

    I need to add to the video monitor fan club posts. When my daughter was crying, I could check the video to see if there was some horrible disaster or if she was just self-soothing herself to sleep. There were so many times when, without the monitor, I would have rushed in to see if she was okay unnecessarily.

    I was like you, thought many of the items being marketed were just plain crazy. The first time I walked into a Babies R Us, I couldn’t believe there was that much STUFF for a tiny baby….that grows fast!

    One thing I pooh-poohed (pun intended) as spoiling a child was a “wipe-warmer”. That was until I had an Indiana winter with a baby SCREAMING when touched by the cold wipe – don’t blame her, brrrrrr! Now I’m also a fan of wipe-warmers :)

  26. posted by robin on

    Ok, I have to say, in my only a little unusual situation, the Mommy I’m Here beeper serves a purpose. I’m low vision. I’ve never needed this in the house and I watch my child every minute out of the house, but it’s difficult to keep track of one little one in a crowd. He’s almost always holding my hand but if he gets overexcited and bolts (which happens occasionally), this thing is a lifesaver.

    Don’t get me wrong, I liked your post and I agree with most everything here.

  27. posted by John on

    I think there are always special cases where any of these products might make sense. But as a member of the generation that grew up crawling on rocks, falling off of playground equipment, bumping into furniture, sliding down icy hills, being carted around unbelted in the back of a station wagon like corn in a popper, riding bikes without helmets, etc., I look at things like like the walking wings and think, “Has our species become too dumb to survive?”

    Note that I am NOT recommended riding without belts of biking without a helmet. But in the 1970s that was the norm. I think moms of the time would have looked at walking wings and just thought, “Huh?”

  28. posted by may on

    Re: Walking Wings

    The first thing I thought of when I saw these is that they weren’t for the baby, they were for the parents. I have a relative who has terrible back problems, and has a baby who is at the stage of wanting to hold onto her parent’s hands and walk around with their support. Leaning over to do this has caused even worse problems for my relative’s back. This looks like a good solution for saving parents some bad back pain, rather than to stop a baby from falling. I think they need to change their marketing angle!

  29. posted by zip on

    My son actually used knee pads for a short while. He crawled commando style (not a problem), but when he started to walk without help he often went too fast (sheer enthousiasm) and fell a lot. We used the pads when he was walking outside on the pavement, until his footing got surer. Even as an older kid he still ran too fast and fell a lot, scraping his knees many times.

  30. posted by Sharon on

    I agree that new parents are bombarded with ridiculous extras (have you seen the list of stuff needed for new parents that Babies-r-us puts out?!). But, the more I’ve thought about it today, I’ve changed my mind a bit. None of these devices are necessary. I already posted about how the monitor could be great. However, I now think that most, is not all, of these items could be useful in certain situations. Perhaps the parents has physical issues. Perhaps the child has special needs. Perhaps a certain situation just calls for it. You never know who might see that, and think “That is EXACTLY what I need”, and it end up making their life so much easier.

    Case in point: for a while their were e-mails with weird baby products (many REALLY weird), one of which was what looked like a stuffed hand. It was labeled “the thing”, and people were like “That’s freaky”, and made comments as to parents who must use it so that they don’t have to touch their baby. Well, I happen to know what those are for. They are marketed to NICUs, I saw them in “preemie magazine”. When our son was born preemie, he was on a vent., IVs, etc…, weighted bags were used on his arms so that he didn’t pull anything out. We couldn’t touch him, but weighted touch is also soothing, and anything to help keep your baby calm so that they can get healthy is worth it. Any way, I’m just trying to say that you never know what products end up being useful.

  31. posted by Anita on

    I actually have the MOMMY I’M HERE locater. Not because I can’t keep an eye on my child, but because I have a 2yo, very independent little rascal who likes to take off whenever possible. And I nanny a 3yo boy who can’t keep up with him. So, when I’m cleaning up the 3yo and the 2yo that I told to stay put takes off on his own in the library, it’s a good device to have when that moment of panic sets in. I’ve never had to use it thus far, but it makes me feel a little more confidant that I will be able to find him more quickly next time. (and yes, hopefully I won’t have to use it so don’t write in that I’m irresponsible!)

  32. posted by Katie @ Making This Home on

    haha! I think stuff like this is why Germans roll their eyes just a little when i say I’m an American. Too funny!
    Katie

  33. posted by Another Deb on

    I just printed a thirteen page baby registry for a friend’s baby shower. Yep, Babies R Her!

    Thanks to you all for the input on what NOT to buy! Since I have avoided motherhood myself, I am useless at choosing things for new babies.

  34. posted by knitwych on

    Walking wings? That thing looks like a Baby Slingshot!

    I, too, roll my eyes at all the protective gear parents are guilted into buying. The basics, as you mentioned (socket covers, latches, etc.), are worth their weight in gold, but the vast majority of the stuff I see for sale is downright ridiculous. I especially laughed at the knee pads. In my case, my parents would have wasted the money. According to family legend, I crawled for about a month before my mom put me down in the backyard to explore. I apparently did not appreciate the way the grass felt on my hands, so I got up and walked off. I’ve been walking ever since. Well, except for that one weekend at Myrtle Beach, when over-indulging in whiskey sours had me crawling to the bathroom.

  35. posted by Orlando on

    We use those main four child safety items and also some strategically placed corner cushions for a few very low sharp corners that even I have busted myself on.

    Speaking of baby clutter, we’ve got all the small clutter under control, but the clutter that drives me crazy is courtesy of the big items we can’t (see: my wife won’t let me) get rid of yet:

    – Cradle swing
    – Large playplace mat
    – Jumparoo
    – Elevated infant seat
    – Bumbo seat…

  36. posted by Chris on

    We just used a baby gate to stop our kids getting into the kitchen. We didn’t bother with one for the stairs, we just taught them how to get down safely (and until they learned we didn’t leave them alone at the top of the stairs).

    Outlet covers aren’t needed here in the UK since electrical outlets have safety shutters to stop little fingers getting in.

  37. posted by Krys Slovacek on

    We just had the shower for our first little one, and I’m thrilled to say that we have been lucky enough to not receive any of the above mentioned items.

    I have been on a mission to keep the baby clutter to a minimum, and it looks like I’m succeeding so far. Of course, the litte one isn’t here yet, so who knows what will happen when she arrives. But so far, so good!

  38. posted by PJK on

    I second May’s comment about the walking wings. I don’t see that as being for baby safety as much as adult convenience / good health. I picked up a brand new one for $3 at a mom’s sale. I wouldn’t pay the $25 they want in the store, but for $3 it seemed worth a try in hopes of saving a few back aches.

    I don’t understand the author’s comment: “Also, I’d be afraid my kids arms would be ripped out of their sockets if I used this thing!”

    Walking wings go around the child’s torso and then the adult holds the handles, so baby’s hands are free to practice using for balance. How could that rip their arms out of their sockets? The traditional method of holding onto baby’s arms while they walk would have a better chance of causing that kind of problem (though still unlikely) than the walking wings.

  39. posted by I think we are evolving backwards now on

    [...] post on some current baby safety devices on Unclutterer made me wonder (sarcastically), “How did my generation survive until adulthood without [...]

  40. posted by Mike on

    Although a lot of this stuff could be useful to people in certain situations, or with special needs, it is marketed with fear to new parents, even though most of it is totally unnecessary. As a new parent my self(6 month old), I have been through this recently and can say some of this stuff is just plain silly. Kids need to learn to do things on their own, you won’t always be around to help them, and hell, we all made it out of childhood alive!

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  43. posted by patrick on

    Agree on the video monitor versus audio monitor. I didn’t have to leave the noise on or walk up creaky stairs to see when they went to sleep. That is because that is when other volumes ( music, talking, and tv) could go up.

    And don’t knock those wings things. Of course you let your children learn to walk on their own. That is not the point. Just fun to use when they are working toward walking and you want have fun with them. If fear is what you are putting down, then the arms being ripped out of socket is either just not funny or fear based itself.

    Yes lots of silly items for children. many we could do without. Just make sure the ones you finish using AND aren’t dangerous from wear get passed along to your next friend with a baby or charity.

    Leaving this site now.

  44. posted by Caroline on

    We used grey pipe insulation on our slate tile fireplace hearth instead of the super-expensive tan rubber guard. It looked nicer (colour-matched), and worked well! We also covered a side table edge with it as well, since our son, bless him, while learning to walk, thought his forehead was his bumper for crashing into things, and he loved cruising on this side table.

    A tip: before your child is tall enough to turn door handles, put a handle guard over one doorknob you use a lot, to get used to them. For a month, we cursed the thing, but now, as we get ready to put them on all the other doors, we aren’t phased by them anymore.

    We haven’t done much baby proofing other than outlets and cabinets and an Angel Alarm (which later became his baby monitor once out of the infant stage). We had to use the clear silicone button closure loops on our kitchen cabinets, as they are sliding doors instead of hinged and traditional locks won’t work. They also work on wine fridges and garbage cans! We also use Kid Co corner guards on a coffee table and various other corners on furniture and they are wonderful.

    I get a kick out of the “walking helmets” too. I suppose there is merit if a child has a massive fontanel and is a klutz, or you have a legitimate concern for injury.

    IMHO though, a happy parent makes a happy child, and if a mom needs to buy a video monitor to feel safe with her child, then the stress level around that child will be less, and thus…

  45. posted by queen stuss on

    Someone earlier mentioned wipes warmers. You can buy them where I live, in the tropics. Go figure.

    I tried to keep everything to a minimum when we had our first, but now that it is all stored away while number two is failing to arrive and number one is no longer a baby, our fairly minimal amount doesn’t seem so minimal anymore!

    My next baby, poor thing is going too like she has nothing. Her brother didn’t have a walker, or a jolly jumper, or a bumbo, or walking wings, or knee pads, no tv until he was two even. The next one will probably have less – the idea of ditching the pram and the change table are tempting me even. And all those wretched toys with batteries and noise and lights. The poor kid will feel so deprived by my simplicity… oh hang on, she probably won’t notice, because she’ll be too busy enjoying just being with mummy, and just getting to know the world.

  46. posted by Emily on

    My now 25-year old daughter went around the house and pulled out all the outlet plugs the day I put them in to protect her little toddler fingers. For some reason she strongly objected to them. Luckily she never pulled my own toddler stunt – I stuck my wet finger in a socket!

  47. posted by nadira on

    My son is now in college, and the only thing I had besides a crib was a playpen, and that only because someone in the family had one (they got them both back).
    I never needed the outlet covers because all the outlets were covered by furniture, and I thought the drawer latches were a good idea, but I never got around to getting them lol

    But I have to admit that he is my only child, and some of these things might have come in handy if there were more. But then, he slept through the night when he was 1 month old, and I didn’t trust fate to give me another like that!

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