Over the holidays, my son learned to crawl across the floor. The first thing on his agenda? Motoring across the carpet to get a closer look at the blinking lights of my dad's stereo receiver.
As I plucked him up, wiped the drool off the knobs and reconfigured the equaliser, my wife reminded me that I had not yet addressed our own electronics at home -- and that we had lots of work to do once we got back.
Before I invest hundreds of bucks in a lot of "solutions" that will surely have mixed results, I wanted to ask what has worked for you. I have at least four basic problems (so far) that I need to address.
- Outlets and surge protectors. There are lots of products on the market for this potential hazard. I need to keep the outlets usable, so a solid cover is not an option. I'm looking at cord-corralling tools like this Kidco cover and (maybe) a surge protector cover like this "Mommy's Helper" model. Are either any good? Anyone have a recommendation?
- The Blu-Ray/Roku/modem/router shelf. Using a repurposed carpenter's workbench, my TV sits on a sturdy tabletop at roughly a 30-inch height, and the supporting gear is on an open shelf at just about eye level with a baby on the move. I could relocate that stuff to a high, less ideal position on the top shelf with the TV. But is there any other option? Cordon off the electronics? Find a way to secure them in their current positions? The extending tray on the Blu-ray player will be broken off as soon as he learns how to pop it out.
- Loose cords in general. What is so fascinating about power cords and charger cables? The fact that they fit in his little fist? Whatever the attraction, we've already had a charging iPad nearly yanked off a tabletop. An auxiliary cable leading to dad's stereo was a constant lure. This is a big problem, since there's an obvious strangulation risk, and since so much gear could be instantly damaged. (PS: Why do all the outlets have to be so close to the floor?)
- Smartphones and tablets. Kids are fascinated with screens. We don't plop him in front of a TV, but we use an iPad to FaceTime with the grandparents. So he's already exposed to the technology -- and he already wants to grab hold of it. How have you managed a kid wanting to get his little fingers on these small, expensive devices? Swaddle it in a case with a screen protector? Sacrifice an outdated older phone to the playpen? Spring for a dedicated kid gadget that's cheaper than this new Acer?
I'll stop my list there. Those have been the biggest questions I've had so far. But I know I'm leaving some key things out. If there's one thing parenting has consistently prepared me for, it's the expectation that I went into the next phase of it not as fully prepared as I should have been. So you tell me -- what else should I plan to do -- what should I buy, sell, or otherwise change to baby-proof the electronics in my life?