Got a climber on your hands?
Tips and tricks to keep her safe
Congratulations! Your young child has decided that she loves not only to walk and run, but also to climb. Kids usually start climbing stairs around 12 months of age, around the same time they begin walking. The higher and more dangerous the objects are, they more fun they are to scale. What once was your tiny, snuggly baby has overnight become a hiker ready to conquer Everest. What’s worse is the absence of any possible way to stop your child from climbing. Just like rolling over, crawling and walking, climbing is a rite of passage for young children, and like it or not, eventually all children will find their love for climbing on all sorts of objects. Our job as parents is to keep our child as safe as possible while she is spreading her wings, climbing and giving us heart attacks at the same time!
So what can you do to help minimize both your child’s injuries and your personal anxiety? Here are a few helpful suggestions to feed your little darling’s curiosity while maintaining a safe area for her at the same time.
Stay close by: This might be the most obvious thing to do, but because kids don’t fully comprehend what their exact abilities are, they can be clueless about when things move from fun to dangerous. Standing close by and being ready and able to catch any falls or redirect the youngster to a different, safer activity are so very important. At the same time, staying in close proximity also allows you to cheer little ones on when they reach goals and discover new things.
Furniture: Many kids don’t understand they can’t pull safely on the front of a bookshelf. They simply see a “ladder” and must climb it immediately. Tots can’t recognize the possible danger that the bookshelf could fall on them. Heavy furniture, tall furniture and especially TVs all need to be anchored to the wall. Some products make it easy for you by coming with an anchoring device, and others require you buy one at any local baby store.
Padding: Do you have tile or hardwood floors? Carpet or area rugs are your best friend. The little extra padding will help if and when little Johnny takes a tumble and falls to the floor.
Baby proof: Has your little one discovered a certain item or room of the house he just won’t leave alone? Closed doors are your best friend. Move that item out of sight or shut that door to make temptation disappear. Try not to leave breakable items or special items low enough that your little one can see them and want to reach them. He may be enticed to try climbing to reach those things, and you could end up with broken mementos or a bruised baby.
One last thing I’ve found most helpful to remember: Everything is a phase! While the constant climbing may drive you crazy right now, it will get better. Enjoy the fact that your child is curious and adventurous and trying to see what else there is way up there on that shelf. It’s a kid’s way of exerting independence, as well—and that’s important for him too. So while you’re busy making sure he’s safe and staying close by to make sure he’s are doing okay, relish it! The more fun you have watching your little one explore, the better the experience for everyone.
Tips from the pros:
- Kelle H.: Turn the barstools upside down when not in use. He can’t hurt himself, but the barstools are still available when needed.
- Erin R.: I have one designated chair the kids are allowed to climb on. Whenever they feel like they need to climb on something, I direct them to this specific chair.
- Cortney K.: Play outside or sign up for a gymnastics class to wear them out! If they are tired enough, they won’t want to climb!
- Mary R.: I couldn’t fight it so I went with it. For her birthday we bought presents specifically for her to climb on.
- Jenny M.: Distract, distract, distract! Find another fun, exciting item and your child will forget all about climbing adventures.
- Meagan J.: I moved all my kitchen chairs onto the table for a period of six months. I never felt like my house was put together, but my son was safe and not able to climb and hurt himself.
Jessica Heine, Olathe, fills her days with keeping her three little ones from climbing out of their cribs and up the neighborhood trees!
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.