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Reality Check: Baby Touches Everything

Q. My 10-month-old only wants things he shouldn't touch -- the dog's stuff, electrical cords. Monitoring his every move is wearing me out! Am I doing something wrong?

Welcome to motherhood, the wonderful world where babies fill your heart with love and your house with chaos. You don't see the latter coming until they become intrepid little explorers who "discover" that toilet tissue can be pulled off the roll into pretty, fluffy piles (my daughter Mari's big revelation when she learned to crawl), that baby powder looks really cool on brown carpet (Lila's contribution), and that pots and pans belong in the middle of the kitchen floor (both girls' favorite pastime).

I remember tearily telling my mom that I was so tired from running behind the two girls that I could barely see straight. Her response was simple and eye-opening: "Your job," she said, "is to keep your babies from killing their little fool selves. It'll get better."

It's true. Your baby's predilection for running you ragged is a given; it's what babies do. The best you can do is to take precautions, like baby gates, cabinet and toilet locks, and electric-socket covers. Then accept the fact that it's your role in life now to save your child from himself. But make sure you get a break each day -- put him in his play yard with a few toys, and get an activity center that he can sit in. Even ten minutes a few times a day will do you some good.

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