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Bubble Wrapping Our Children: Where Do We Draw the Line on Safety?

On behalf of Donald Carter at Carter & Fulton, P.S.

You don’t have to be a perfect parent to raise a well-adjusted kid, influential English pediatrician and child psychiatrist Donald Winnicott asserts. Therapists and psychologists are seeing more and more young adult patients who are feeling adrift in this world despite claiming they had perfect parents. The general consensus among these practitioners is that—maybe—children are being protected too much from the bumps and bruises life has to offer.

Baby-proofing is big business in the United States. Thousands of books and websites tout advice about creating a safe place for your child to play, sleep, and live. A young girl running through a grassy park trips on her own feet. Her parents swoop in and pick her up—cooing reassuring words—before she even knows she has fallen. How is this little girl to learn how to pick herself up, dust herself off, and acknowledge that falling down is not such a big deal? Getting oneself back up is a skill all adults need to know in order to function in their personal and professional lives.

Bubble-wrapping our babies is not the answer, nor is leaving them to fend for themselves an option. Where should the line be drawn? According to the majority of baby-proofing websites, the following list contains normal household issues small children should be protected from at a minimum.

  • Open windows – especially on higher floors
  • Window blind cords – an attractive but deadly plaything
  • Toilets – the dog drinks from it, a small child may try to also
  • Electrical outlets – cover or block with furniture
  • Garbage cans – fun places to hide and there are interesting things inside
  • Table corners – hard to avoid but impact can be softened
  • Bathtub spouts – water and soap make for slippery companions
  • Medications – lock up or put out of reach and out of sight
  • Household and garage cleansers and chemicals – lock up or put out of reach and out of sight

The rule of thumb for some parents is whether there is a risk of death or loss of limb. Raising children who have the ability to shake off a scraped knee or slight bump to the head can be difficult. Many parents struggle with where to draw the line between the two extremes of confining their child in a padded room and stocking up on Band-Aids.

Unfortunately, there are unpredictable accidents and injuries that can cause great harm to a child. If your child has suffered a major injury due to a defective product, dog bite, burn, negligence, or an accident, a lawyer experienced with personal injury matters can help you decide if legal action is necessary or appropriate.

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