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The Novice Father: The perils of a mobile baby

Kelly Coffey
newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyKelly Coffey
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VAIL, Colorado ” I spent much of my last day off installing a baby gate at the top of the stairs. My 9-month old daughter has learned to crawl. Each day she gets better at it. Each day she gets faster.

That baby gate required power tools and drilling holes into the wall. It took a few tries to finally get it right, so there are a few extra unnecessary holes waiting to be patched up.

I wrote a few months ago about babyproofing my house and the advice I received on the topic. It was a good time to plan ahead and get it done. My daughter, then 6-months old, was still stuck to the same part of the floor that I put her on. I could have surrounded her with broken glass and rusty nails and she would have been fine.



Today is a different story. The Kid moves about the room on her hands and knees faster each day. And I’m still only part of the way through making the house safe for her adventurous spirit. Between that last column and today, I’ve let the task of babyproofing idle.

There’s a bright note to this procrastination: during this idling time I’ve found that there’s a big difference between babyproofing theory and babyproofing practice.



I’ve found many potential dangers I didn’t think about when the Kid was an immobile object. It’s only now, as she crawls for the wine bottles that sit low on a low shelf, or grabs at a picture frame that we display on the bottom bookshelf, that I’m finding new dangers I hadn’t yet imagined.

L.J. Josef of Eagle thought he had the basics covered: plastic plugs for the wall outlets, gates blocking the stairs. Most importantly, they installed childproof latches on all the cabinets.

“My parents were visiting and they couldn’t open the childproof latch,” he said. “My 18-month old showed them how to do it.”



Since then Josef has figured out a solution to his son’s cat-burglar skills: he doesn’t bother to lock the cabinets under the sink anymore. He and his wife just don’t store anything down there.

When planning to babyproof the house, I read and was told by a number of sources to crawl around my house on my hands and knees, looking for hidden dangers. I did that. The problem is that I didn’t notice the things that really, really interest my daughter.

It’s a live and learn situation. I’ve been able to head off any dangers that my adventurous daughter tries to get into. So far. That baby gate above the stairs is only one of many lines of defense I plan to build. After all, it’s only a matter of time before the Kid takes advantage of my letting my guard down.

“They have regular speed and escape speed,” Josef said. When the family needs to get out of the house fast, the kids (now six and three) will drag their feet, moving to geologic time. But when dad turns his back, “they can totally vaporize,” he said.

The drywall plaster is vacuumed up. The drill, screwdriver, pliers and hammer are packed away. The baby gate is up, guarding the top of the stairs like a dark, silent sentinel.

The Kid won’t get around that anytime soon. But now I’m worried about how to navigate this obstacle in the dark while carrying a baby in my arms.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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