MUM’S THE WORD COLUMN: Baby gear is not all child’s play

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Operation Baby Proofing has taken another step forward – the stair gates have finally gone up.

Nancy’s not toddling yet, but she’s hauling herself up against the furniture, doors, toys, in fact pretty much everything in sight and has taken a few tentative steps on her jelly legs aided by her baby walker.

One day last week I found her proudly clambering her way up the stairs as if she was scaling her own Everest – and although she’d only made it as far as the second step, it was still two too many for my liking.

So the gates are now up, firmly blocking her way – and unlike every other piece of baby/child equipment we’ve encountered, they were a doddle to install, or so Mr Chapman tells me – I stayed well out of the way.

Baby monitors, sterilisers, car seats, high chairs, not to mention the pram/pushchair/travel system, the list of equipment you need when you have a baby is endless; and in order to operate the vast majority of it you also need a degree in advanced engineering.

I thought our three-in-one system was taxing enough. The shop assistant who demonstrated it flicked switches here, folded bits there and made the whole thing look, well child’s play. But 11 months on and I’m still discovering new buttons and features.

I couldn’t help but have a wry smile to myself a few weeks ago when new dad, David ‘Dr Who’ Tennant, was snapped in the papers struggling to operate his little nippers’ new wheels. Even his sonic screwdriver couldn’t help him fathom out how to collapse the buggy – let alone try and fit it in the boot of his car!

But nothing compares to the problems we had with the car seat and its allegedly ‘easy fit’ base. Yes, it was easy enough to install and get the two attached, but separating them was a whole new ball game.

Press the lever the instructions said. We did. Hundreds of times but it simply wouldn’t budge.

Not to be beaten we ended up taking the whole lot out of the car as we endeavoured to separate it. Another half an hour and several threats to take the whole lot back to the shop later, and we realised there was a second lever nestled against the first! And ‘pop’ – they came apart just like that!

So now the stair gates are up - but all the modern technology in the world isn’t going to make Nancy walk any quicker. And to be quite honest I’m not willing her on too much.

This is the last step between her being a baby and a toddler – and one I’m not quite ready to take yet.