Volume 16 • Issue 31 | December 30 - January 8, 2004


Mobile mix of crawling, independence and fear

By Sara Trappler-Spielman

I come from a pretty large family. And my six-month-old baby is the first grandchild from my side. So my siblings, who can now call themselves aunts and uncles despite their young ages, give her so much attention they end up fighting over her.

Whenever we spend time at my parents’ house, my baby is passed around from one pair of eager hands to the other, until she eventually falls asleep on someone’s shoulder. The result is that when my husband and I are home with her at our place, she expects the same sort of royal treatment.

We realized we had to insist they allow the baby some floor time so that she can become accustomed to keeping busy on her own instead of the constant comfort of someone’s arms. This has been working pretty well.

But a baby who just lies on the floor is boring.

So, they’ve taught her how to crawl. My little brother got down on the floor with her recently and offered her a toy at a distance. My baby welcomed the challenge and pushed her little body forward in a swim-like motion. So now, although my baby requires less holding time, my hands are more full. In one minute she’ll manage to “swim” and roll away from the spot near me on the living room floor to underneath the table a few feet away where she wraps herself around the tables’ legs, while eyeing the drawers of the breakfront a few feet away.

I was amazed that she managed to reach for a pencil case on the bottom shelf of our coffee table and I almost expected her to open the zipper of the case filled with stain-producing items. Luckily, she’s not there yet. But she’s definitely getting there.

I remember when she was about two months old and my aunt visited us. We were sitting on the couch chatting and watching my baby who was calmly sitting in her bouncer. My aunt said I should appreciate this time now, because before I know it I’ll be chasing her around and won’t ever get sitting time while the baby’s awake.

I’m beginning to realize what my aunt was saying. In the moment that I turn around to get something, my baby grabs something of her own. I’ll find her munching on an envelope (which appeared to be missing a bite-size piece) or the tiny piece of shmutz that she somehow finds on the floor.

So, I now have to “baby- proof” my apartment. That should be simple enough: keep the floor clean and anything that shouldn’t enter her mouth out of reach from her hands. The bigger challenge is my parents’ house. Filled with many more rooms and people, it seems like an impossible task.

There are staircases, something I’m most afraid of. One of the perks of living in an apartment is that I don’t have to worry about that. It’s going to soon become an issue at my parents’ house, though, when my baby becomes more mobile. Then there is all the food that gathers under the table after a meal and the countless drawers and closets filled with all sorts of exciting things for a crawling baby.

My mother loves decorating, and the house is adorned with lots of breakable and sentimental things. As I watch my baby pulling at her grandmother’s clothing and jewelry, I anxiously anticipate the day when she reaches for her other belongings.

This house will become a mischievous wonderland for my baby. Actually, it already has. With aunts and uncles that spoil her immensely, they allow her to grab whatever they’re holding, such as cups, bottles, newspapers, or anything large and crinkly-sounding, which she immediately puts to her curious mouth.

She’s learning how to spill juice from someone else’s cup, throw the box of baby wipes off of the changing table, and change channels with the remote control (by accident, of course.) The other day she held onto a newspaper while being carried around, refusing to let go of it.

As I watch her slowly gain the power to reach from afar to seize whatever seems appealing, I wonder how I’ll ever be able to relax while she moves freely around her grandparents’ house. I guess I won’t.

Well, so much for my original idea. Her aunts and uncles stopped holding her as much, so she discovered her freedom. But now I don’t want anyone to put her down.


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