Received Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I am a live-out nanny to a wonderful 1 year old girl. I've been with the family since she was about 5 1/2 months old. The parents are fantastic people and parents -I really enjoying both working for them and knowing them. They both work at a large company in relatively high positions and have demanding work schedules at times. They don't have any family in this country (they are both here on work visas) and this is their first child, so they tend to consult me on childrearing advice and include me in most decisions that involve the baby.
Now, here is the problem: They aren't babyproofing their house. Their daughter is such a delight to be around - happy, curious, and very busy. She has always been a very active baby - she skipped "scooting" and moved straight onto crawling, and she never crawls now that she can walk. She has such determination and is such a bruiser - if she falls or hurts herself, she just gets right back up and keeps on going. She rarely even cries when she hurts herself.
Since she is such an active baby, I have suggested that they babyproof their house from the time that she first started crawling. They bought a baby gate for the stairs and outlet covers upon my request. However, I've had to take the initiative and put in the outlet covers and search online for particular outlet plate covers (which the mom bought when I emailed her the link). I've removed baby toiletries and medications from the changing table cabinet when she learned to open the doors (when I mentioned it to the mom, she told me that the baby learned how to open the doors the night before ---- so why didn't she remove the dangerous items then???) I've emptied out the bottom drawers in the kitchen, which contained many choking hazards and turned one of the drawers into a baby drawer filled with tupperware to play with, etc. I've gone through her room and moved breakable objects from the lower shelves and removed choking hazards from her toy bins. I've done all of this because I understand that as busy first time parents, they don't spend a lot of time with her at home, so they may not be aware of how active and curious she can be. And most of all, I care deeply about the baby and so I don't want her to get hurt. (Plus, there is a liability issue as well.)
Although we've all been discussing for months how as the baby develops, the parents need to step up the babyproofing, they simply haven't. Last week in particular was extremely stressful and scary for me. On Monday, she reached onto a table and was walking around with glass votive candles that were within her reach. On Tuesday, she grabbed a decorative plate from the hallway table and it fell to the ground - luckily I was standing right there and we able to stop her before she placed something in her mouth - loose change, bobby pins, scraps of paper, paper clips, etc. My final straw was Wednesday morning. I was refilling the diaper wipes container, when I heard the sound of glass breaking from the kitchen. I ran into the kitchen (which is steps from her bedroom) to find her standing in the middle of broken glass. One of the parents had left some dishes and glasses drying on the counter top on top of a kitchen towel. Apparently, the kitchen towel was hanging over the edge of the counter, just low enough for her to reach it, which caused a glass to fall on the floor. I can't even begin to tell you how scary it was to see a baby standing in the middle of broken glass!
That day, I called the parents and asked if they were able to come home and meet me for lunch. During our meeting, I told them what had happened that day and they immediately agreed that they needed to step up their efforts and babyproof the house. (Did I mention that they own cabinet and drawer latches, but have never installed them?) It concerned me that they may think that I wasn't watching the baby close enough and that they may feel that was part of the problem. I brought up this concern and they reassured me that they didn't think that at all - that the baby broke things and hurt herself often on the weekends while they were watching her as well. The fact is that although I interact with her all day, there are periods when I do need to do other things, like make her a snack, go to the bathroom, etc.
So now it's the following week and only one thing has changed (they placed the baby medications on a higher shelf). I don't understand - I'm not asking them to completely change their decor and inconvenience them by installing numerous babyproofing devices. I'm just asking that the common areas that the baby and I spend a lot of time in are safe for her --- namely, her bedroom, hallway, kitchen and dining room. The rest of the house can be made inaccessible by shutting doors or by the existing baby gates.
What should I do???