Corraling my climbing 1 year old

Jennifer - posted on 10/12/2014 ( 4 moms have responded )

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My youngest daughter (of 3) just turned one 3 weeks ago. She is 21.1lbs 47th percentile 31.75in 99th percentile. So she is very tall and a climber. Our living room is down a step from the rest of the house and she's free to roam the living room, we don't want to have to baby proof the whole house or take away her older sisters little toys and things that she could pull over on herself. We have a gate in front of the the stairs and pull the couch over a bit to block off the other side. She gets stuck in baby jail (playpen) when we are not in the room as she can climb the furniture. Play pen is 3x3ft and 28in deep, she is close to climbing out of the playpen and taking a header on the floor. She cant be left out of the playpen for even a minute if you're out of the room because she makes a bee line for the furniture and I don't want her falling off that either. By the time the older 2 were tall enough to climb the furniture they were old enough to understand and listen to "no", we say it and she constantly mimics it back but hasn't gotten the concept yet. Any ideas on how to keep her safely in so I can go to the bathroom, get housework done and make dinner etc?

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Chet - posted on 10/13/2014

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1. Accept that some climbing is normal and healthy. It can be scary to watch, but it's good for kids to take calculated risks, to physically challenge themselves and to learn the limits of their body. Even though she's little, try to give you daughter reasonable opportunities to climb. As older babies and young toddlers our kids were free to climb onto and off of furniture.

2. Work on removing unreasonable opportunities to climb. It's time to stop using the playpen if she's close to climbing out of it. And if she's still in a crib you should seriously consider moving her into a toddler bed soon, or onto a mattress on the floor. I was out of my crib when I was 10 months old because I started climbing out of it. If you have some hugely problematic furniture you might need to move it into a room she doesn't go in for a short time.

It's time to start thinking about baby proofing a lot more of the house. Cribs, baby gates and playpens are only safe as long as they are being used safely. Once kids start trying to climb them they become a serious hazard. A child is way better off learning to climb on and off of the couch safely than going head first over the side of a play pen.

We weren't able to use baby gates with our forth child at all, and we were only able to use them very briefly with our third. We have four kids close in age, and the baby gates were being used improperly by the other children to the point that they were just dangerous. It was better for the little ones to learn to climb stairs, and for us baby proof things and just take the little one with us when went into another room.

Bring your toddler to the bathroom with you, or have an older child play with her and keep her engaged while you go to the bathroom. Have your toddler "help" you make supper by standing on a chair "washing" veggies in the sink, or just get her to watch you make supper while you talk to her and explain what you do.

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Dove - posted on 10/12/2014

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Teach her how to climb up and down the couch safely. If you have a determined climber... teaching them safety and letting them kind of learn on their own is a much better route than trying to eliminate their need to climb.

Jennifer - posted on 10/12/2014

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Her play pen is the same size as the corrals I had seen. Hers is like a pack and play with the mesh sides but she just wraps her arms over the top and just pulls herself up so I don't see one of the plastic ones being much better. I'll try sticking her in her high chair. Now if I could just get her to stop climbing the couch and trying to go head first over the arms and teach her to get down safe, so far no luck with that and she thinks I'm just playing with her. She is my escape artist baby.

Sarah - posted on 10/12/2014

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Could you put her in her highchair? And give her some toys or books to play with on the tray for a bit? That may buy you 5 to 15 minutes. She won't understand "rules" for awhile yet and you want her to be safe. I don't know the height of the baby corrals. Those have six to eight panels that form a little "baby jail" and have fun things to play with on each panel. We had a mesh panel that was very fine so the baby could not climb it because it was to smooth. That was stretched across an upstairs railing that baby could have squeezed thru and fallen. It required hardware directly into the wall, so it may not be practical for this situation. Tricky one!

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