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January 22, 2018

Baby Proofing in a Montessori Home

We seem to live in a culture obsessed with safety, or at least I do. There seems to be a million different rules for how to keep babies and young children safe in our dangerous world. And, incidentally, a product you can buy to make your world a safer, better place. Baby proofing has become a whole industry of toilet locks, bumper pads, locks, and covers.

This can be sort of a challenge for Montessori families. Montessori emphasizes the freedom of movement, the need for young children to explore and manipulate their environment, and generally just trusts kids with "dangerous" objects {like knives, or working tools} from a much younger age than most mainstream parents. In Montessori, it is the adult's job the prepare the space to make it safe and accessible to children, not our job to place roadblocks to exploration in our home.

Baby proofing in a Montessori home, a look at our must-haves and the things we skip

But, this doesn't mean that Montessori homes don't take precautions to keep babies safe. But, it has to be balanced with these other Montessori needs. So, how do we baby proof in our Montessori home?

For us, the answer is balance. We both want to keep our children safe, but give them freedoms. I have become aware of what I call "the commercialization of safety." And, therefore approach many baby proofing products with a skeptical eye. There are so many places trying to sell us something to prevent some "hazard." I really evaluate whether the risk is something I need to prevent, or if it is just meant to help avoid an adult inconvenience.


With that in mind, I have some must-haves in our home. These include:
  • Accessible electrical covers - we have changed as many of our electrical outlets to include built in covers. These outlets keep a baby from getting electrocuted if something was stuck inside the outlet, BUT allow a toddler or older child to plug an electronic in without needing assistance or removing a bulky cover. 
  • Furniture anchors - anchoring tall furniture to the walls so that it wont tip if climbed. 
  • Baby Gate (kind of) - we have one set of tall, steep stairs which we gate, our other smaller stairs are not blocked off. 
You can also see some specific safety steps we take to baby proof with our Montessori floor bed

Baby proofing in a Montessori home, a look at our must-haves and the things we skip

Things We Skip

Now, everyone will have to make specific decisions for their own family, but we choose to skip:
  • Cabinet locks - instead we opt to move dangerous chemicals/medicines up high or in locked boxes. And, yes, that sometimes causes a mess, but for us it's more important that our children have access to practical tools and the ability to explore than to lock things up. We simply remove anything we don't want touched. 
  • Bumpers - we skip things meant to keep our kids from bumping their heads or bodies. 
  • Toilet Locks/Fridge Locks - basically any lock that keeps your kids from using every-day objects 
  • Door Covers - I don't find them necessary, again I see it as my job to just remove anything I don't want explored and to set my kids free in our home 
Baby proofing in a Montessori home, a look at our must-haves and the things we skip

Once again, specifically what you need to do to baby proof will depend on your comfort level and your home. It will depend on balancing freedom and safety. But, instead of placing the burden on your child to avoid things, shift that burden to yourself to prepare your environment in a way that allows your child's natural development to unfold!

What baby proofing items are must-haves for you? 


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Unknown said…

First this is so great, I completely agree on these things in my own home. I was wondering what you do about holidays and trips to other friends/family homes that maybe don't take the same approach. I didn't register for a pack 'n play because it feels like a mobile baby jail that shouldn't be needed, but I am not sure how to keep my little one safe without something like it or keeping a constant eye on him when trying to visit with other people. I don't have this problem in my own home but with a very busy little man I don't want to let him get into something that I didn't forsee. Also I was wondering what do you take with you on vacation or trips with your little ones and what do you leave at home (we have a 10 day cruise coming up and I don't want to bring everything haha)?
Unknown said…
I have found when traveling it it isn't that big of a deal when others houses are not baby proof. You are naturally watching him closer and there are other people around who are also keeping an eye out for them getting into trouble. You can simply slowly move things out of reach at other peoples houses such as plants on the floor, dog food etc. We have traveled a lot with our little one. I did wish we had a pack and play for sleeping but never for awake time.