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How young is too young to leave a child "alone"?

  1. #1
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    How young is too young to leave a child "alone"?

    I came home from work today to find my 1-year-old daughter standing alone in our apartment's hallway. It was clear that she had been parked in front of the laptop with her favorite cartoon on, and wandered off. The bathroom door was shut, with the light on, so I assumed my helper was inside.

    I waited to see how long my helper would be in there. It was only a few minutes. Plus, our house is safe -- it's child-proof, and the gate to the kitchen was closed.

    BUT I've told my helper to always put her in her playpen, with the door firmly shut, if she can't keep an eye on her even for a minute. My daughter dislikes this now, as she's older and prefer to walk around freely. But I figure that letting her cry a few minutes is better than her getting hurt.

    Like I said, our house is safe, and she was fine. But you know how kids are -- turn your eye for one minute, and they can find the one electric socket that is not covered, or pull the cat's tail and get scratched, or slam their fingers in a door, or discover a stray Panadol on the bedside table, or whatever. Friends of my parents turned their attention for a while, and their toddler son almost hung himself on the ropes attached to the living room curtains.

    I had a stern talk with my helper, and she looked genuinely sorry. (And this, right after I posted how fabulous she was!)

    I want to ask other parents out there -- how old is your kid before you let them go without keeping an eye on them every second?
    If you're home alone with no helper and have to pop into the toilet or take a phone call, would you let you 1-year-old wander freely around the house for a few minutes with nobody watching?

    P.S. There's also no excuse that my helper is just exchausted and overworked with child care. I took care of the baby this morning and brought her to playgroup. My helper only really started work around 10:30 am, and I came home at 8 pm.

  2. #2
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    around two,but still I would close all the doors to the bAthroom and kitchen...would let her wander in the hallways, living room with no problem and check on her every couple of minutes. If I need the toilet I bring my 14mtth old and lock him in my room as it's an ensuite and I cen keep an eye on him with the door open. If I take phone call I take it in his room and clothe door...we're oth en loses together.

    I tell my helper to bring my 14mth old wherever she goes to clean, except the bathroom, and she does that when he naps. At no time is my 14mth old alone as he loves to climb up and Down everything and open my cupboards. Constantly in trouble is the key...my oldes was"good" never touched anything, but still didnt leave her just in case...perhaps I was a bit anxious but better safe than sorry was my thinking.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    we used to baby gate the entire living room and so, leave the kids in the living room rather than in a play pen. i prefer leaving my kids to themselves more, otherwise the learn to be "entertained" constantly. the living room was safe, so there wasn't much for me to worry about.

  4. #4
    genkimom is offline Registered User
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    I didn't have a helper with my son, so I had to figure out how to deal with him while I was doing stuff. I remember if I knew I might be in the bathroom a while, I'd bring him in with me and play with him or read him books while I did my business. I also had him in the room with me while I took a shower (the cabinets were all child proofed) and while working he played under my desk.

    I agree with cara that kids need to learn to entertain themselves, and I did let me son play by himself lots, but I was always in the room with him so I could hear and see what he was up to. I didn't leave him completely alone until he was two, and then only for a few minutes at a time. One is a bit young to leave them to their own devices.

    I have a problem in the other direction with my daughter. My helper never lets her play by herself and is creating a little diva who needs to be entertained. I think that is my fault though. When she first arrived, I made a big deal about her first and most important job is to play with and care for the baby, and I think the helper is afraid to be "caught" not playing with her! So there needs to be a balance where the baby has time to him or her self, but not alone.
    recurring likes this.

  5. #5
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Thanks, everyone!
    I agree with Cara that I don't want a little diva who is constantly entertained. But as our helper is not here all the time -- and my husband works long hours -- it's not possible to do that anyway. Most mornings she plays by herself on the playmat while I prepare her milk or make our breakfast.
    Sometimes I do shut off the kitchen / bathrooms / office, and let her run free through the living room / nursery / our bedroom. I don't mind if I'm dressing in the bedroom and she's in the hallway, for example, as I can still see and hear her.
    But being locked into a bathroom while a one-year-old is outside alone -- it just feels unsafe to me.
    When I go to the bathroom myself, I either take her in with me, or shut her in the playpen for 5 minutes.

  6. #6
    2010-NewDad is offline Registered User
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    Happy to let our 1 year old play by herself in our apartment, with the kitchen & bathroom doors shut. As long as I can hear her, then no problem. We don't leave drugs lying around, British style electrical sockets are no concern and we don't have pets either. The worst she would do it re-program our TV by pressing all the buttons on the remote control which she finds endlessly fascinating.

  7. #7
    Newbie_hk is offline Registered User
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    As long as the house is safe, child proof, I am happy to leave my 1 year old alone to give her free time to play by herself. I have left instructions to my helper to give my child "space" and freedom to explore on her own as long as she is safe and in no harm and does not get bored. I also make sure that either one of us can hear and get to her when she gets bored or needs help.

  8. #8
    evgreen is offline Registered User
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    I'm always paranoid that my child will climb over the safety gates, so I only use them as a measure if I'm not within arm's reach, but still within eyesight. Plus, my home has stairs and a ghastly bannister which a child could slip right thru and potentially fall from the 3rd floor down to the ground:-( I'm actually terrified of my own house now that I have a child.

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