The Escapees

This week Izzy has climbed out of her cot which means it won't be long before we will have 2 early morning visitors to our bed. Jasmine has only recently realised after almost 2 years in a big girls bed that she can get out of it herself (to be fair this was only after I told her to get out to use the potty at night (thanks Catharine:) so now she wakes up, has a pee & then climbs into our bed at about 5am.

Izzy has observed this freedom and is now on a mission to be free like her sister, so she has initiated self potty training which liberates her from nappies and will allow her to claim ownership of the potty and she has decided to climb out of her cot too. I'm not sure how she does it (I have yet to witness the Great Escape) but in a week she has begun to undo her sleeping bag, climb out of the cot, discard her nappy and now within 4 days happily takes herself off to the bathroom to do what's necessary. I am impressed though not too happy about the cot climbing mission as I'm now wondering if it would be better to bite the bullet and change her cotbed into a bed...not something I relish the thought of as I know with Izzy she will be spending more time getting out of bed than sleeping in it.

Not content with watching her sisters freedom, Maisy has decided she no longer wants to be content in the high chair and this week struggled and struggled until I heard a large plop and she had literally flopped out of it and was laughing at me, so yesterday I had to buy reins - something I didn't need with the first 2.

As they seem intent on escaping I've taken the decision to barricade the door to the balcony (we're on the 18th floor) as I can't get the key out of the lock because it's broken in there and the landlord doesn't seem to be in a hurry to fix it so this apartment now looks very much like a nursery (the toy boxes were discretely stacked in a corner before so it didn't look like it had been taken over quite so much by shocking pink and primary colours).

I'm also planning my great escape back to France and have been looking at how to ship our stuff back without paying a small fortune and I've just been notified by the lettings agency that we will soon be enjoying viewings over the next 2 months on the apartment. Now this makes me grimace - can you imagine the type of people looking to rent a 'pied a terre' or 'city apartment' will be thinking they are going to see a contemporary city pad and turn up to the Fitzgerald Nursery with barricaded door and second bedroom stacked full of bunk beds and 2 cots! Not to mention 3 kids who will be very excited at strangers visiting and grabbing at their 'probably armani clad' ankles. I suspect it will be them wanting to make the Great Escape.

Bonne Chance I say!

My first and second children were escapees. The first boy (now 41) actually worked on the pull up screws on his cot (unbeknown to me) until one morning there was a crash and we went in and there he was sat on the coat mattress with the bars on the floor around him. We tightened up all the screws and he just climbed over. The second boy could climb out of his cot at a very early age and when he was two and a half actually mounted a climbing expedition to top shelf of the Welsh Dresser by putting a stool on top of a dining chair and clambering up whilst holding the shelves and got all of my husband's Fruit Pastilles (I was feeding the third child - a daughter at the time in another room and his father was supposed to be keeping an eye on him). My daughter was no problem at all laid in her cot, laid in her pram and was as good as gold. They survived with their nerves intact US no.

I have a colleague at Thomas Coram, Institute of Education there in London Suz. She, Priscilla Alderson, has done research on premature neonates, let alone full term babies, as decision makers along with a number of other leading experts around the world. I use their work a lot in my own work on children's participation in civil society and their citizenship, which is what I have been doing most recently, and once we get used to the notion, there are no surprises left. The only time they are not up to something physical in that sense is but a few weeks. Roughly speaking, from the day they learn to properly grasp a cuddly toy, rattle or whatever then they are plotting (to put it in lay terms). Rattle shaken followed by a smile and it is but days until they learn to use it as a projectile, aimed at that great big face that looms down at them.

Simply give up being surprised and think about counter measures (nearly wrote counter terrorism measures, well perhaps...). We have certainly widened our parameters of accepting what they are capable of doing - unfortunately, although I have known Priscilla and several of her colleagues for a long time, this work was not published until after ours had had a good go at our nerves and precious sleep!

aha - I've now seen how she does it as I slept in her room last night as Nanny is staying with us. She holds onto the bunk bed, swings her leg over the end of the cot (not the bars) and hoists herself up. I knew I shouldn't have been getting her so well trained on the monkey bars at the kiddie gym, now look where it's got me!

Our little monkey became a cot escapee at 10mths too. After seeing him teeter on the edge of the enormous cot bed bars, complete with sleeping bag, we removed the bars immediately and put the stair gate across the door instead (no stairs in this house). 5 years later, he has just about stopped the early morning cuddles but can scale any tree or wall faster than any other kids we know.

Sympathy x∞. Both of ours were around 10 months. Ceri, being Down, was predicted to be between 14 and 16 months, sorry Mr Paediatrician but wrong. One day we suspected a cat of climbing on the bed during the night - after all they could get past the baby gate that was there to stop the dog coming in. How relieved we were the gate was there - on the way to our room. Except that it was not the neighbours' cat, it was Ceri who was in the room with us. We were in a single bedroom at the time, in our nice little three room plus bathroom rented annexe whilst my OH was doing her research in the Algarve, where there were no doors between rooms anyway. Anyway, it became a habit and we just got used to it. Fortunately for me, for the six months or so we were still there, I worked about two months of that away, so nice comfortable hotel rooms.

Then Daryl, number two, did a repeat two years later but before Ceri had given up doing it. So sometimes it got crowded. So we moved them out of baby beds on to mattresses on the floor, next to each other and since they have mainly given up. Problem now is that Ceri loves sci-fi and so has nightmares about monsters, dragons and other scary things so nocturnal visits and stays are back on at 11 1/2!

Hi Bernadette, yes she was also the only one of my 3 who walked at 10months! I know - I think Daddy will be doing a cot conversion this weekend!

Afraid you will have to bite the bullet Suzanne. My eldest was an escape artist at 10 months (could walk and run - absolute nightmare, and could not get shoes as she was too little). She managed to tip the cot over. I have no ides how she escaped unharmed. Still what goes around, she now has two of her own. Both were in big beds at about a year old. She put a stair gate across the door and left them to it. There were a few weeks of retrieving them from under the bed ect. but they soon settled into staying put. Good luck.