Skip to main content

Home Alone

When you think of Home Alone I am sure like me you think of young and innocent Macaulay Culkin (before he turned into a drug fuelled skeleton) being ‘forgotten’ and left at home while his parents went on holiday. The loveable scamp cheekily left marbles and booby traps to fool two bumbling robbers while he ate ice cream all day. Never once was anyone truly concerned with his safety of being left alone, nor were his parents prosecuted for neglect when they finally realised they left their son at home. Now, what about if we replace Culkin with a 10-month old baby? Being left on their own in a locked house? I am guessing that wouldn’t be a Christmas family favourite.
Mumsnet user ‘Daikin1’ recently took to the site to ask if others would find it acceptable that she left her child (a 10-month old baby) on their own while she went to a shop 50m away to pick up a couple of parcels. It was apparently okay as the baby was napping. She did it so she didn’t have to make two trips up the stairs with a baby. She also wanted to try on the clothes she ordered, ‘in peace’. Hmmm. Others took to the site to say that they were outraged with the decision to leave the baby on their own. While others whole heartedly agreed with ‘Daikin1’ with one even going as far as walking her dogs while her child slept. But it was okay as she left another dog in the house for ‘security’. The discussion sparked a huge response with over 800 parents weighing in on the argument.

Ask any parent if they would leave their 10-month old baby on their own and I am pretty certain there would be some Gary Barlow worthy eyebrow raising in your direction. I have spent days with Elijah glued to my side, making drinks, lunch and doing the washing etc. wishing I could leave him for a sec to go for a wee. Sometimes I have left him on the play matt or in his bouncy chair for 2 minutes when I have nipped upstairs to the toilet. We spend days assessing what is and isn’t safe for our children. So how on earth did ‘Daikin1’, come to the conclusion she was being a responsible parent when she made the decision to go to the shops and leave her child? Now, we have child proofed and installed stair gates I am happy to leave him in the living room watching Mr Tumble while I go for a wee in peace! Or make a coffee. Would I leave him to go to the shop? No. Would I leave him to nip to my neighbour’s house which might I add we are attached to. No. I wait until Greg gets home to put the bloody bin out! If he is napping I will wait for him to wake up to put the washing out!

Am I protective? Yes, I bloody am. I believe all parents should be but considering I am a NICU Mum maybe I am more so. Surely, it is our right that until our children are old enough to deem risk for themselves we have to protect them from it? If it means that Greg has to get my parcel or I wait until Elijah wakes up and have to make 5 trips up the stairs so be it. Or here is an idea why don’t you get someone to sit with your child? Or get your friend to pick the bloody thing up. Nothing is that important to put your child at risk.

Elijah wasn’t quite walking at 10m but he was moving. He was mobile, pulling himself up, crawling and cruising. Who is to say he wouldn’t wake up from his nap. You really cannot guarantee how long a baby will nap for. In a routine or usual habit, whatever you just cannot. You could not guarantee that the baby wouldn’t pull himself up on his cot and get over the side. What happens if they fall and break a bone? That the stairgate isn’t closed and they fall down the stairs? Or that they are ill, how quickly do children come on being ill? Elijah literally just chundered all over the living room and has been fine all day. Who is to say they won't choke on their sick and suffocate? Elijah has been sick in his sleep before and although he can roll on his side I have had to flip him over to avoid him choking. She bangs on and on about how she was gone for 7 minutes, her child could be dead in 7 minutes. The risk of SIDS is also still present with a baby of that age.
I may be slightly neurotic, slightly paranoid and tend to think the worse will happen however I sort of think I have learnt that right considering what we have been through on Elijah’s journey. And also what we have had to witness him go through. So as soon as I even think about a baby being left alone even when sleeping, I just feel like my mind is literally going to blow up. All I can think about is the risk involved to her child and herself for example;
What if there is a fire? The baby is in a locked house with no way to save or defend itself. Fires do happen more than you think, things flood on electrical items, chargers and straighteners blow up or a laptop overheats.

Yes, it is not as common during the day but what if someone breaks in and takes the child? I will use this time to allude to the case of Madeline Mcann where the parents where only meters away from the room. Yes, the chances are slim for someone in daylight breaking in a house and taking a baby without anyone seeing or hearing but as we all know it can happen.
If as soon as you leave (we’ve all been there baby is fast asleep as soon as you leave the room they wake up) the baby starts screaming, red faced cannot catch breathe screaming? Before Elijah’s op I would never have let him ‘cry it out’ especially not for over 7 minutes. What if the baby has an underlying un-diagnosed health issue? That causes them to stop breathing, or to be sick? Or a seizure?

The mum herself could fall down the stairs and knock herself out; who will know the baby is left locked in the house?

What if she is hit by a car and killed? How long until the baby is found?
I know these are all extreme circumstances but they do happen. Yet more and more parents are taking the risk and leaving their children alone. Arrests happen every day to parents in the UK who have left their children alone. Including babies. Recently there was the case of the couple who went out for a night out and left their young baby wedged in the bed, the child slipped down and tragically suffocated. Why are people taking the risk? Especially with babies? The fact that a baby/toddler and young child depend on you for everything to look after them, to care and nurture but most of all to protect them from harm why are we leaving them unprotected from possible fatal threats?
It got me thinking, I have never been in a position where even if I have had an important appointment I have not been able to get childcare. Maybe I am a lucky to have an extended network of people I trust as well as Elijah being in nursery for a day and a half a week. Is it childcare costs or lack of accessible childcare that is forcing parents to leave their children at risk? At first I thought that some of these Mumsnet discussions are so stupid, irresponsible and downright ridiculous that they are made up. To provoke others in a heated discussion. That it is someone orchestrating the whole thing for the benefit of social media and the tabloids. But why then are parents getting arrested every day for doing this? Why are over 105 parents facing investigation for doing just this?

Gov.UK advises that the law doesn’t actually state an age when you can leave a child on their own. But it is an offence to leave a child if it places them at risk. It goes on to advise that babies, toddlers and young children should never be left on their own and parents can face prosecution for neglect if they do so. The CPS when charging parents look at a number of factors, the age of the child, the period of time they were left, the potential dangers and the environment they are left in. The case of Tim Haines the father who left his ill baby in the car outside the pharmacy he went into to get Caplol, was in fact charged but later won his appeal to have the charge overturned. You could also face prosecution if you leave a child in the car while you go and pay at a petrol station. Here is where the law needs further clarity and harsher punishments need to be enforced for those irresponsible parents leaving babies at home.
But honestly ‘Daikin1’, I don’t know you, I don’t know your circumstances but if you feel the need to get clothes and try them on that much get a bloody sitter for Christ sake. Hay even I will do it, but please do not leave a baby napping on their own in a locked house. 7 minutes, 50m whatever. Take it from a mum who has watched her son endure a NICU stay, and recover from open heart surgery, you do not want to put your child at risk for them to have to go through something this.

So the question is....

Would YOU leave your baby alone in the house?

I would love to know what you think!


Popular posts from this blog

Dear Elijah, on your fourth heart day

Elijah the heart hero never letting anything stop him. Today  is your 4th heart day. It's 4 years since we took you down to Great Ormond Street for open heart surgery. It seems to have crept up on us again. Another whole year has passed but it hasn't changed how I feel about that day. Some have said that oh, by now surely you should have gotten over it after all it's been 4 years. The answer is I don't think I ever will. I have been thinking a lot about that day, where I signed the consent forms for them to take you and operate on you. To either save or take your life. That day was the worst of my life, the unknown certainty of whether you would come back up again. I held you as they put you to sleep. They gave me your dummy as they took you from me and laid you on the operating table as if you weighed nothing. I couldn't even kiss you goodbye in case it was the last time. That's why I won't ever get over it and those who have been in the

The time Fajita night resulted in having a baby in a bath.

The newest Cockerill Do you all remember my ever so optimistic natural birth plan? You can read it here. However, spoiler alert, it didn’t happen. What did happen was something no one was expecting. Wednesday the 5 th July… a mundane sort of day spent cleaning the house and doing the weekly shop. With Greg going back to work the next day I was determined to make sure everything was ready for when this baby arrived! I was three days off my due date and still hadn’t had one single sign this baby was imminently coming. I had been receiving messages from quite a few people asking if baby was here yet. I was getting fed up as everything I had tried to induce labour failed miserably and every morning for the last two weeks I woke up disappointed I wasn’t in labour! I gave up, walking didn’t help, pineapple made me sick and I was beginning to tire of the raspberry leaf tea. This baby was staying put. In the evening I put Elijah bed, and we began to settle down for the eveni

The one with Elijah's heart surgery.

We were back. April 22-28 2015, a year ago this weekend. In just two short weeks since we last went down to London. We had to go down the day before and check in and have another blood test. As all of the forms had been signed last time, we were out again within an hour or so. Back to the same family accommodation, in a different room and with a lot less luggage. Something felt different this time, although I didn't want to believe it was going ahead in the event it was cancelled again, deep down I knew it would be. The morning of the surgery I knew how I would feel as we had been through this all before. I didn't want to go out for a meal so we ate in the hotel room watching ch5 rubbish after Elijah went down in the travel cot. Its odd that through the whole pre admission, cancelled op and the actual operation I can remember what shit we watched on TV and what we ate for tea that night. One of those weird things that just sticks in your head. Sort of like when you rememb