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Infants: Satisfying the Need to Climb Safely

Gotta love those early months when you have to keep constant watch over your mobile infant.  Sarah needs your suggestion for her little one that aspires to vertical endeavors.  She emails:

I'm looking for ideas for my 11 month old who can't stop climbing. We never had to childproof before now we have a little spiderette on our hands. She hasn't been walking long but really feels the need to go vertical. A climbing wall won't be appropriate for a while. Has anyone else found a good outlet for their little wobbler climbers? Backyard structures for the smaller set? Thanks!

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I don't know if this will be enough vertical space for your little one, but we got through those months of climbing curiosity by building daily obstacle courses, using objects she could go up and over - like the plastic tub that I store sweaters in, stacks of pillows, etc.
For us, that phase was (thankfully) short-lived. This is also when we finally bolted all the bookcases to the wall!

Please, please bolt those bookcases AND dressers to the wall.

Pump it up and other indoor playground places helped us. (Washington Square, Cedar Mill) It was my second kid who was/is the climber. And of course, if it can be climbed, it can be jumped off of which is really his goal - so that differs from yours... Mine really is a jumper - climbing is just the means to the end.

Oh, we also are taking a kindergymnastics class at parks and rec now which helps with this A LOT. They basically set up big obstacle courses. He is 2 now so these classes might not be open to you yet.

And you might want to invest in some hair dye and mouth guards for you as this will turn you gray and cause you to bite your lips in anxiety!

Good luck.

I also had a climber...she could scale the crib both in and out before 1. We did a tumbling class at Parks and Rec, went to indoor play areas at the malls as well as at OMSI (baby area) and Children's museum (baby area) and spent many hours running around climbing structures at the park trying to be everywhere at once to catch her if she fell. Good Luck !!!

During this stage we joined Gymboree and found it totally worth it. They set up the play room with all sorts of safe climbing equipment and we were able to let our daughter have at it without much worry. We only did this for a few months, after she got more agile, we just opted for playgrounds and tumbling classes through parks and rec.

I remember someone commenting on my 14 months old's upper arm strength as he watched her pull herself up into the booster seat without using her legs....yes, I was blessed with 2 early walker, early climbers. I have to say that I removed all chairs that tip easily from the house. I also "disappeared" the child-sized plastic chairs that tip easily. I bolted the bookcases to the walls, moved anything breakable to shelves several feet higher and otherwise child-proofed the house. Then I let her go. She's had a few bad falls but mostly she's OK and at 21 months she is amazing--she jumps on and off moving merrygorounds, pulls herself to the top of the playground structure, & launches herself down the slide.
Little Tikes play structures are easy to come by and cheap at yard sales--so hurray it's summer! We have 2, But I've found that even more interesting are tricycles, chairs, garden benches, rocks, and even an old board resting on two 4x4 blocks (presto: balance beam).

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