Everyone whose baby likes to climb has had one of these moments.
You and your (barely walking) toddler are playing happily together in the middle of the living room. Something quiet, like puzzles or lacing cards. You need to go to the bathroom and your child seems so involved in his activity that you decide not to bring him into the bathroom with you. You pee, change your tampon, wash your hands, and return to the living room—all in under 52 seconds.
When you return, your toddler is missing. Where could he have gone? You look around the room. No
sign. You run down the hall. No sign. Suddenly you hear a noise. It’s coming from the kitchen. You run,
breathless, into the kitchen and there is your baby—on top of the refrigerator eating goldfish crackers.
You have no idea how he managed to scale the refrigerator, but apparently, it was a simple procedure
because he looks way more relaxed than you. You, meanwhile, are having a minor nervous breakdown
because all of the sudden your house is full of dangerous liabilities of which you were previously
You imagine your toddler scaling every piece of furniture in the house and swinging from the ceiling
fan. You imagine your toddler standing on top of the stove, wielding a spatula, and attempting to make
quesadillas. You imagine your toddler dangling from the bookshelf, gripping a copy of How to Raise Kids
You Want to Keep. You imagine your toddler falling from one of these places and you feel like you are
going to throw up.
Meanwhile, your toddler is still cheerfully eating goldfish crackers and looking quite delighted with
himself. “I climb, Mommy,” he informs you, as you carefully pull him down into your arms.
This is the beginning of the climbing stage. Some children never go through this stage, or if they do, it
is very brief and only a passing interest. This was true for my first son Nino. Other children recognize
climbing to be their sole interest and passion in life. This is the case for my second son Diego. He lives
and breathes to climb.
When he was only seven months old and had just learned to crawl, he began climbing. He would climb
onto end tables and coffee tables. He would climb onto our stereo system. He would climb onto our
kitchen table. I considered, for a period of time, getting a large bungee cord and strapping all the chairs
to my kitchen table. But, ultimately, I decided that it would be too much work at mealtimes.
Meanwhile, every time you turned around, Diego was balanced precariously on top of something
which you would have never imagined. I eliminated all kinds of furniture from my house, but nothing
stopped him. He had a fire in his heart and he was determined to see the world from up high. He turned
trashcans upside down and climbed on them. He stacked books and toys on top of each other and
climbed on them. He found random boxes around the house and climbed on them. He climbed on my
desk and danced on the keyboard. He climbed the bookcase and retrieved a book from the top shelf. He
climbed on the speakers and attempted to rewire our sound system.
I felt like I was going to lose my mind, trying to keep him from killing himself on a daily basis. But finally,
as he became more physically coordinated, things became a little easier. For one thing, I felt (a little)
less worried that he was going to fall off everything he climbed. Secondly, he actually seemed to begin
to lose a little of his passion. Maybe he realized that it wasn’t such a great feat to climb the refrigerator
or bookshelf anymore. It we had lived at the base of the mountain range, I would have probably been in
trouble. But I think our home became mundane to him and this was a good thing.
If you toddler is a climbing maniac, my best advice is to eliminate all the furniture from your home and
wear your baby as much as possible. Fortunately, this is likely to be only a passing stage. If not, there’s
always Ringling Brothers. They might keep your toddler for a season if you ask nicely.