Helpful(ish) guide to containing your child

Children are good for many things: getting time off work when they’re born, getting paternity leave, getting time off work when they’re sick, and probably even some other stuff. However, what takes many new parents by surprise is how high-maintenance children can be. They need food just like real people and require cleaning about once a month.

If you’re like me, you’ll be especially taken aback by the fact that your child gets progressively more difficult to contain as it ages. After a while, it becomes almost impossible to keep the child confined to a single location. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to keep your child safely contained within manageable space.

Disclaimer: I have not consulted any literature pertaining to legal ramifications of the following tips, but I have no good reason to assume any of this is against the law.

Child Level 0 (0–3 months)

Containing your child is incredibly easy during this stage. A Level 0 child isn’t capable of any coordinated movements and is unable to independently displace itself. You can put your child on virtually any horizontal surface and be sure that you’ll find it exactly where you left it. (Important note: Avoid sloped surfaces, especially if they’re slippery.)

Child Level 1 (3–6 months)

At some point during this stage, most infants will learn to flip over on their stomachs. This makes Level 1 children slightly more difficult to contain. You have to place them on larger surfaces like floors or wide beds. You can also place wedges under them to prevent them flipping in the first place.

Child Level 2 (6–12 months)

This is when your child is likely to learn to crawl and pull itself up. Things get tricky. You’ll have to buy playpens with walls of up to 60 centimeters (24 inches) in height. Try to discourage your child from standing and learning to walk, as either of those skills will make containing your child exponentially more difficult.

Child Level 3 (1–2 years)

Level 3 children are every parent’s first major challenge. They’re able to walk, run, and may even learn how to manipulate your emotions. Luckily, they usually won’t know how to operate locks, so unless you foolishly leave the front door unlocked, they’ll still be safely contained inside your home.

Child: Colorful padlocks love locks

This might be taking it a step too far, but I admire your dedication.

Child Level 4 (2–6 years)

Regular locked doors are no longer viable. Kids of this level are crafty and will eventually figure out a way to open any mechanical lock. You need an electronic lock with a password known only to you. Get ready for odd questions from your neighbors, like “Hey, didn’t you have a kid?” and “How come I never see [child’s name] anymore?”

Child Level 5 (6–10 years)

Level 5 children have highly developed social skills. This is why you must limit their exposure to other people lest they solicit their help in escaping your containment. Try to keep them busy with TV shows and interactive toys. Most animated superheroes make for great babysitters.

Child Level 6 (10–14 years)

There’s a very good chance that your child now makes a formidable opponent, having exercised out of sheer boredom during its 10+ years of containment. Matters are further complicated by the likely onset of puberty and the emotional and physical changes associated with it. Approach with caution.

Child Level 7 (14–18 years)

Your child has now mastered all computer languages and has successfully hacked your advanced electronic lock. What were you thinking, giving it unrestricted Internet access?! You’re lucky your backup alarm system made out of cowbells and a live raccoon trapped inside a barrel somehow worked. You’re getting sloppy.

Child: Raccoon in grass

See? Even the raccoon is judging you.

Child Level 8 (18–24 years)

At this point, your child is legally an adult. I say “legally,” because parents know best what’s good for their children and should not let society’s rules dictate how they do or do not contain their offspring. Try to have a believable explanation for why your child has never been seen in public—on the off chance that cops or social services drop by.

Child Level 9 (24–30 years)

You idiot. Your child sent out emails to all lawyers in the area and petitioned 57 foreign governments to help end what it believes is its inhumane treatment. What did I tell you about Internet access?! You have to relocate to that abandoned warehouse on the other side of town. They’ll never find you.

Child Level 10 (30+ years)

You’re trapped inside an empty warehouse with a child who hates you for unknown reasons. The child also has a makeshift superhero costume complete with ninja stars and nunchuks. You probably shouldn’t have let it watch all those superhero shows. It doesn’t help that the child is now at the peak of its physical abilities while you’re in your 60s and frankly haven’t taken very good care of yourself. The child is screaming something about getting a taste of your own medicine and charging at you at full speed.

Remember: It was your failure to follow my guide correctly that has led to this predicament. Good luck!

18 thoughts on “Helpful(ish) guide to containing your child

  1. raeme67 says:

    I wish I would have had this guide earlier! My son escaped at 18! Damnit Daniel were where you when I needed you? Oh, you were probably about 6 when he was born…damn I am old!


    • It’s a good thing you weren’t on your morning coffee yet, so we avoided any coffee being spit out all over the table! That would have been quite an accomplishment in its own right.

      Glad you enjoyed it!


    • Oh no, level 6 – a true challenge! Be strong.

      Yeah, that sign-up box looks like it’s been designed by a colorblind alien that’s been asked to draw a rainbow. But hey, I won’t complain.

      Happy to make you laugh!


  2. Haha. This made me laugh. Personally, I’m at stage 30+ with a child of 2. My worst with it was about 1-2, although the demon inside her is bubbling and knocking to get out again. I can see it. Just when we are about to hatch number two as well. Fun times!! Thanks for this (argh)!


  3. Wonderful stuff, Daniel. From personal experience, I would say stage 3 is the most difficult – the period when the child has mobility but no sense. I think by the time they reach stage 8 (and above) we are trying to get rid of them but they keep returning like an unwanted boomerang!


  4. You need to turn this into a handbook and be sure all trainees working in child-centered jobs receive a copy. (Or an app–that would work too.) Daycare teachers, nurses, doctors, physical therapists–they all need to have it. Soon they’ll be known as the “Nest Principles.”

    Thanks for a great laugh as always!


    • Just realized I never replied to you here. Was probably too busy containing Nathan!

      Indeed, I should release an eBook of best practices. Then I can be the Jenny McCarthy of the parenting community…wait…Jenny McCarthy is already the Jenny McCarthy of the parenting community. Damnit!


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