17/04/2012 17:07 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Toddler Tales: The Escape Artist

Baby Diana makes her escape from a travel cot D prepares to escape...

As a (slightly bedraggled) mother who spends her days chasing a toddler who's climbing, running, jumping, walking and stomping through her newly discovered world, I'll admit that I take comfort in the moments when D is contained, whether strapped into her buggy, buckled into her high chair or safely confined in her cot.

At least, I did, until a couple of weeks ago, when D declared her independence of all such devices and started learning how to escape from them.

It started in France. I had brought D's travel cot, which she can usually sleep in without too much fuss, but since we were sharing a room, the allure of the bed that I was in was too strong for Diana to resist.

She started hoisting her leg up the side of the cot, then pushing herself up onto her tiptoes and gaining momentum to scale the side barrier and land on the bed next to me (I had suspected she might attempt an escape so decided my best option was to ram the cot as close to the bed as possible, to prevent her falling).

As I watched D slowly lifting herself out of the one place that could safely contain her, instead of doing the decent parental thing (discouraging her, admonishing her, repeating "NO!" or any kind of word or phrase that would get D to realise that this was something she needed to stop, now), I found myself so impressed with her new trick that I was cheering "Nice dismount!," clapping and running to the next room to find siblings-in-law to watch her perform it.


So it's no great surprise that when we arrived at D's grandparents for the Easter weekend and placed D in her real cot there, she immediately saw the bars, hoisted a leg up and proceeded to try and flee (Daddy subsequently spent the rest of the day adjusting the cot bars so the sides are all too high for D to reach to scale her mini-mountain). As it turns out (thankfully), D has no real interest in escaping her cot unless someone is immediately sleeping in a bed next to hers or doing something in the same room, so I think we're safe at home. For now.

Trips in the buggy have become a lot more turbulent since D realised that she can remove the straps of her buggy (the seatbelt still keeps her in place, I hope), and fling herself back and forth against the seat, or try and twist around and watch me while we're walking. It definitely makes the notion of peaceful strolls disconcerting at the moment since my child spends most of the time bouncing up and down, but I keep seeing older kids happily contorted in their buggies, with their parents looking relatively relaxed about it, so I assume this is one of those issues that gets wrinkled out with a bit of practice.

Since D can only buckle buckles and not actually undo them, she is still relatively safe when she's belted in, but the high chair is starting to look like that twirling prop chair from Britney Spears' Stronger video. She's using it as a dance partner, twisting in it, standing up on it, lowering herself down to the ground from it, launching herself back into it, spinning it around – often all of this, while still strapped in, somehow.

There's one other thing D really likes to escape from lately: her clothes. She'll see me pulling my jumper off, and suddenly she's topless with her dress on the floor, she loves taking off her baggy pyjama bottoms and running around the room in just a nappy and when we're in the park, her jacket and cardi have hit the ground before she's even completely out of the buggy.

Even though having a child who's stripping the whole time may sound like a bad sign, according to all the developmental guidelines, it's a good skill to have mastered by this age. No word on whether doing a double roundoff from the travel cot into another bed is a sign of physical advancement or not, but I'll keep my praise to myself next time.

More on Parentdish: Twin escapes cot, with brother as look-out (video)