Dealing with a sprinter 

You’re casually strolling along with Baby when suddenly, like an athlete competing in the 100-meter dash, he bolts from your side at lightning speed.

If you’ve got a sprinter on your hands, know that you’re not alone. Toddlers this age are beginning to feel the urge to exert their independence, and breaking free from you is one way for Baby to start exploring the world on his own.

This usually short-lived phase typically starts around 18 months, and will likely resolve itself by around the age of 2. Still, the days of dealing with a little runaway can be stressful, as toddlers don’t fully grasp the idea that you’re setting limits to keep them safe.

To keep both parties happy, here are some tips on allowing Baby to roam a bit without the risk.

  • Explain expectations: Before venturing out, let Baby know the rules. If you’re going to the grocery store, for example, you can try explaining to him that he may walk on his own as long as he keeps one hand on the cart. You may need to remind him now and then that hewillll have to go back in the cart if he doesn’t follow your instructions.
  • Play fair: There’s nothing wrong with allowing a little exploration – in fact, it’s important for learning. When you get to a park that you’re familiar enough with that you feel comfortable, try telling Baby that he is allowed to run in certain areas without having to hold your hand. The playground itself, or an open field on-site, are generally safe places for him to play so long as you’re keeping a close eye on him.
  • Stay close: Even in areas you feel comfortable calling danger-free, it’s important to stay fairly near Baby at all times. Chances are, as he wanders, you’ll find that hechecksks for you to be sure you’re seeing all of the fun things he is finding on his adventure. It’s important to stay within a reasonable distance so that you both feel at ease, and to never take chances in crowds or near the street.  

Baby will grow out of his sprinting fixation soon enough, but in the meantime, you can help to discourage dangerous running off by setting clear rules and following through with consequences. In this case, paying attention to what you say is a safety issue, and if Baby doesn’t listen, you can let him know hewillll have to stay in the stroller for the remainder of the trip. With this kind of reinforcement, he will eventually start to limit his wandering ways. Until then, strap on a good pair of running shoes, and try to keep pace!

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