Safe to raise a baby on a concrete floor?
January 30, 2011 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Is it safe to raise a baby in an apartment with a polished concrete floor?

My wife and I are planning to have our first baby in the next year or two. We live in an apartment that we really love. Is it a problem that the apartment has polished concrete floors? I'm concerned that the floors would be too hard on a crawling baby's knees, and too dangerous for one learning to walk. We could buy area rugs, but I wonder if we could realistically hope to confine said baby to a carpeted space.

I'm sorry if this is a naiive question. Am I overly worried? Are area rugs likely to be an adequate solution? Or should we plan on moving?
posted by Clambone to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
Kids have been raised for millions of years in all kinds of environments. Don't worry. If, in a few years when your hypothetical kid is learning to walk, you want to get area rugs during the time when s/he is falling a lot, go for it. But really, kids are pretty tough. As long as you're not planning to drop the kid headfirst on the floor, it'll be just fine. Plus, smooth, hard floors are awesome for sliding around in your socks, which is a huge plus when the kid gets a bit older.
posted by decathecting at 1:06 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you're overly worried.

Two thing occur to me: (1) the amount of weight that a baby puts on his knees is not that much (some weight is borne by the feet and other weight is borne by the hands/arms), (2) babies have fat on their ass that absorb the shock of falling.

If the concern is that the kid could fall and hit his head on concrete, well, again, I don't think the force of a baby's head hitting concrete is much different than that of the baby's head hitting wood.

Admittedly this is all very rational and may not assuage your concerns.

Nonetheless I think it's sound advice.
posted by dfriedman at 1:08 PM on January 30, 2011

our three small neighbours grew up on polished cement flooring. They're fine. Only advice from their architect father was that all glass and ceramic stuff had to be kept on high shelves in the kitchen and all their meal stuff was durable plastic cos the most danger was them hurling drinks & plates from the table and stepping in it.
posted by Wilder at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

In my experience, the corners of things that they might hit on the way down are for more dangerous than the floor itself.
posted by COD at 1:13 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

For one datapoint, my son learned how to crawl and walk on saltillo tile. We put down area rugs or blankets over parts of the tile while he was in his learning to flip over stage and noticed that he really preferred the open tile because he could zip across the floor doing a combination breast-stroke/army man crawl. If anything, it was disconcerting for me because of how fast he could speed away compared to how friction from carpeting would slow him down. For walking, babies tend to fall down on their diaper-padded rumps vs face forward or ass over tea kettle, I don't recall a single face plant or back of the head knock incident.
posted by jamaro at 1:14 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

We have wood and made a temp play area with rubber foam tiles. Soft and silent.
posted by gomichild at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hardwood floors here. Despite falling over so many times her father swore she'd be "square headed", baby Ys is turning out fine (this is including being dropped on her head at three weeks old in a horrendous car-seat-over-the-shoulder parking lot accident which required a cat scan & a discussion with social workers). Rotten luck notwithstanding, babys are basically made out of rubber bands and are terrifyingly durable for the most part.

Probably the only precautions I would consider would be making sure there's lots of padding around areas she might fall off of --beds, sofas, and later cribs,
posted by Ys at 1:36 PM on January 30, 2011

No problem at all. Remember that f=ma; a is a constant, and m is really small, so the force of a kid falling on a concrete floor is REALLY different from the force of you falling. My four month old daughter rolled off of our raised bed, leading to a three foot drop onto a hardwood floor, when she was four months old. She was fine.
posted by KathrynT at 1:42 PM on January 30, 2011

Best answer: I spend the first 4 years of my life raised in campus housing with a concrete floor. I started walking around 9 months while my brother who grew up on carpet took longer than a year. My parents like to joke that I learned to walk so quickly because it was more comfortable than crawling. Whatever the case may be, I'm fine.

In India, where my parents are from, all the houses pretty much have concrete or granite floors, and there aren't that many rugs. Kids grow up fine.
posted by AaRdVarK at 1:49 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: You guys are awesome, thanks so much for all the advice.
posted by Clambone at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2011

nthing the above. Slate floors, wood floors and a fair amount of other hard stuff about, along with really steep old 19th century stairs. Lots of stone outside too, along with yuccas, and agaves. The three year old is fine (and has a healthy respect for hard surfaces and steep stairs); the three month old doesn't really move yet, so I guess we'll see.
posted by rhymer at 2:02 PM on January 30, 2011

We have tile floors through the whole apartment. Our son spent most of his time bare-kneed on the tile and was just fine. When he was in the "fall down" stage, we just bought a few foam floor mats to use in his main play areas. But at the end of the day, the physics of a small child falling are totally different than an adult. It's just not as big a deal if they fall. (Wow, does that sound cold!)

Curiously enough he didn't start to crawl until a trip to the U.S. The very first time he was on wall-to-wall carpeting he took off like a shot. I think he liked the added traction.
posted by wallaby at 2:08 PM on January 30, 2011

Childhood is a bloodsport.

It's not the dangers that you can see that you should worry about.
posted by zeikka at 3:57 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

[pic of foam tiles set up]

We got these in Japan but there might be something similar near you. Added bonus - it keeps all baby paraphernalia to vaguely one area. A negative - these were jigsaw puzzles so I taped the backs to prevent them being constantly taken apart.
posted by gomichild at 4:47 PM on January 30, 2011

My Mum delights in telling a tale, where she takes me to a friends house when I am 2.5 years old, and somehow I escape notice, head towards a concrete staircase and go headfirst down 11 concrete steps.

Apparently at the bottom I stood up, patted myself down and made my way to my brother who was playing in the garden downstairs, like nothing had happened.

My career in doing stunts didn't progress any further though.
posted by Admira at 5:49 PM on January 30, 2011

Same as above...
We moved when I was 1.5 to a hard tile floor. I was lazy, and didn't bother to learn to walk until I encountered that floor. I walking in days (apparently). My (younger) sister never really crawled, she learned to walk quickly.

I did chip a tooth, but that was because I discovered pockets, and had my hands in them.
posted by defcom1 at 5:56 PM on January 30, 2011

If you're worried, buy some rugs or those foam tiles. Our toddler does fall down and when he falls on the ceramic tile in the kitchen, it hurts more than when he falls on the carpet, but kids can hit their heads on a lot of stuff that is dangerous and you can't avoid everything. Just do your best.
posted by k8to at 6:40 PM on January 30, 2011

We had really hard floors when I was a baby and toddler. My mother was always afraid, so my parents used to put couch cushions on the floor next to my bed once I'd outgrown the crib stage, since I move around a lot in my sleep and had a tendency back then to roll out of bed.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:10 PM on January 30, 2011

Almost all floors here in Taiwan are concrete; didn't seem to hinder my kids much. But sometimes when they fell, the sound of their head hitting the floor was a bit unnerving.
posted by rmmcclay at 10:00 PM on January 30, 2011

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