Am I the Only One? (Toddlers Taking off When Your Back Is Turned)

Updated on August 11, 2011
A.V. asks from USAF Academy, CO
21 answers

Our2 yo daughter has recently figured out how to open the front door and go outside all by herself. I usually am sitting right there watching out the front window or outside with her. but the other day my husband and i were hanging out on the bed, and he had just shut the door, and i told him to leave it open so i could keep an eye on her. but he shut it anyways. a few minutes later we heard a crash, i ran out to the living room and the front door was open and our daughter was gone. i ran outside to find her, usually she is just out front or went up the neighbors steps. but i couldnt find her. i ran all around our building, screaming her name, she wasnt at the park that belongs to the apartments. after 10 agonizing minutes of screaming and looking for her, our neighbors found her around the very back of the apartments. i was so happy that she hadnt been taken, or in the street or something, but still, i was absolutly terrified. since then we have been pretty good about making sure the front door is locked at all times so she cant get out when we arent looking.but Today! i was playing with her outside, and we came in to put her shoes on so i could take her to the park. she put her shoes on and i was smooching my husband for a minute, and i went to get her to take her to the park, but once again, the front door was open, and she was gone. once again i ran around calling her name, and couldnt find her. i ran back inside to tell my husband that i couldnt find her and ran back out again. i found her in the streetlike-parking lot trying to run to the playground by herself! a few neighbors saw her and when i ran up to get her, they all gave me dirty looks! i just scooped her up and took her home. AAAAAAAAH my heart!!!!!!!! i am pretty sure any more of this i will have a heart attack.

Am i the only one this happens to???? i am afraid those neighbors are going to call CPS or something , the way they were looking me! i am usually really good about keeping an eye on her, but sometimes she just takes off and she is FAST! its not like i dont watch her or something....idk. i am so freaked out!!!

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answers from Honolulu on

Toddlers... take off.
thus you need to get real serious, about safety proofing the home.

Put latch locks on the doors, up HIGH, like 6' up. So that the child cannot reach it and get outside. That is really not safe.
It takes but a few seconds, for a child to escape/run off/get lost/get taken, etc.

And if running off in public, there is traffic, cars, crowds they can get lost in.

A Grandpa told me once, that his grandson, ran off in front of their house. Onto the road. He got hit by a car, and died.
Thus, he was COMPLEMENTING ME... on using a Toddler Harness, for my son, when he was that age.
My son, was a RUNNER, and VERY fast.
I had to use the harness, for this age of his life.
Kids this age, have NO IMPULSE CONTROL, nor is impulse-control fully developed yet, in this age.
Thus you need to use, precautions.

ALSO: get "door knob alarms". It will sound, whenever someone touches the door knob. You can see what it looks like online at Amazon. It goes over the door knob.

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answers from St. Louis on

I had them run but never hide. Yikes!

My favorite was hearing my older daughter whisper to my older son, she can't catch us both. She was just a bit over two at the time.

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answers from Youngstown on

Time to put a childproof lock on the door! They are inexpensive and can be a life saver. We have a childproof lock on all 4 of the doors on our house.

You have had 2 close calls now. Don't let it happen again. Its natural for children this age to try to sneak off, its our job as their parents to keep an eye on them at all times in order to keep them safe.

I know they can stop your heart. Mine has stopped my heart a few times. Good luck keeping tabs on your toddler.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Oh, please! Never smooch your husband, never go to the bathroom, never take your eyes off your children for an instant!


Invest in some childproofing. We put handle covers on the doors we don't want our son going through without us. That's bathrooms, outside doors, guest room (where breakables hide.) When my brother was a toddler, he got out of the house and into the horse pasture. It's a miracle he wasn't trampled, but there he was. Playing right near the most vicious of our horses. We discovered my two year old son was capable of opening the front door when our neighbor across the street knocked on our door with him in his arms. We had put a mattress by the side of the road for trash pickup and my son thought that would be a cool place to take his toys and play. He was in his socks in the middle of December, so our neighbor realized something was amiss.

It happens. But now is the time to take measures to make sure it doesn't happen any more. After you're done with the childproofing, have a celebratory smooch with your husband.

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answers from Seattle on

You've got to get a chain latch or sliding bolt on your door - tonight. And put a sign on your door, your mirrors, your kitchen cupboards, your pillow, everywhere, reminding yourselves to LATCH it every time you are inside until you and your husband do it without thinking. That is so scary.

A friend of mine in college had a daughter when she was in highschool, and lived with a friend who also had a baby. They took turns caring for each other's children while one was at school during the day, and the other at night. One afternoon my friend put both babies to bed in their cribs for a nap (kids were 2.5 and almost 2), latched the chain-bolt on the front door, and lay down on the couch to nap while the kids were sleeping. She woke up to find a chair by the open front door and no kids. She shot out of the apartment and found them 1/2 block away, walking down the sidewalk holding hands! The older child had climbed out of her crib, helped the little one out, dragged a chair across the carpet so she could stand on her tip-toes and get that chain latch open! After that day, if my friend napped when the little ones did, she slept on the floor in front of door.

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answers from Dallas on

We had friends who put a latch at the top of the door so their daughter could not reach it to open the door. That worked and she was not able to go out because you had to know how to open the latch and she was not tall enough to reach it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

put a latch at the top of the door way out of her reach it , if you've got a deadbolt make sure it and the nob are locked,

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answers from Houston on

Mine ran outside in the time it took to put laundry from the washer to the dryer. She happened to be naked, and she decided to go and visit my 50 yo bachelor neighbor who was fishing in the lake, about 100 meters from my house.
I was gone maybe 3 minutes, and she opened the door and was gone. I now have balls on my doors that lead to the outside world, in fact nobody can get out - even my 8 yo, and my MIL! I had the worst runner of a child I have ever seen, I just had to turn my back to say hi to someone and she would be gone - she is better now she is 3, but it took a long time of harnesses and hand holding, strapped in a strollering.

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answers from Kansas City on

put the door handle covers on the doorknobs, put a chain latch lock or something on your door to keep her inside, a deadbolt

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answers from San Francisco on

Put a slide bolt up high on the door. Forget the door knob covers. Mine had them figured out by 18 months!

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answers from Seattle on

Yep, this happened to me too. We changed the deadbolt to a key lock on the inside. The key was attached to a magnet at the top of the door. (Make sure the key is always near the lock, so you don't get locked in during a fire.) There are lots of different ways to secure the door. Find one that works for you.

It is unlikely that anyone will call CPS. However, if they do, CPS is aware that toddlers run. If some idiot calls CPS on you, they'll drop by, make a 5 minute investigation, and note the complaint as "unfounded." Unless, of course, you're passed out drunk on the floor. :)

Kidnapping is not a significant risk. Kidnapping is incredibly rare and children under 5 are the single lowest risk group. Cars are a *very* significant risk. Worry about cars, not people.

As much as possible, get to know your neighbors. Make sure they know you've got an escaping toddler, and to bring her back home if they see her on the loose. Tell them that they have your permission to pick her up and haul her home, over her objections if necessary.

Especially get to know any teenagers or adults who are often hanging out on the street. They're more likely to see a tot on the loose, and usually happy to bring them home. Everyone welcomes the chance to be a hero, even people who are otherwise making rather poor choices with their lives. Saving a baby from getting hit by a car definitely goes in that category of hero.

Consider getting her a ID bracelet with all your phone numbers on it: cell, home, etc.

Finally, train her to a call-and-response. Mine is a sing-song chant "Where is my Sam?" to which he responds "I'm right here!" The words and the tone are always identical. He is eight and we still use it. It cuts through background noise and distractions, and his response is pure reflex. Pick something that works for you and use it constantly in the apartment until she responds perfectly. This makes it a lot easier to find her when she takes off. Holler and listen. Even if she's under a bush inspecting earthworms, you'll be able to hear her and find her.

Good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

They are very fast. You need not just lock, but LOCKS. We had 5 locks for my 3rd daughter because she was a runner. You also need to only smooch your husband AFTER she's asleep and double and tripple check the locks at night and NEVER hang out in your room unless you pull her in there with you. CPS is almost ALWAYS called if the police are ever called and my neighbors called on one of our neighbors. It's scary for sure.

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answers from Denver on

My son was like this and I wasn't allowed to put a top chain on our door ("it puts a hole and therefore ruins the door jam" said my apt manager) So I had to get creative (my son ran down the street and around the corner one day when I was in the shower). I put childproof knobs on my door then duct taped them together because my son could take them off if there was no duct tape. It kept him inside and my nerves under control. Plus it turned out to be a really cheap simple option.

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answers from Denver on

She is only 2 but she understands discipline. If I were you, the second she even touches the door knob you put her in some sort of naughty chair, her bedroom, the couch, where ever you deem the naughty place. Sit her there, look her in the eyes and tell her why she is there. Walk away without another word, 2 minutes later go back and tell her again why she is there, give her a hug and let her go. At first, she will get up, throw a fit, etc. but you just stick with it, put her back on the chair without a word over and over again if you have too.

In short, you have to be sure you figure out how to get her to understand how dangerous this is and just so you know, a lot of kids do this sort of thing. One of my sons finally quit doing this when he was about 20 months old and sitting in the family room in a diaper. He ran out the door naked with no shoes right into a fresh snow storm. Needless to say he ran right back in and never did it again. Totally funny!

You will make it, just stick to your guns and maybe no smooching unless you are sure the door is locked. Ha ha.

Good luck!

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answers from Rochester on

Mine do, whether I'm there or not. My oldest pushed our cat out our living room window and then climbed on a toy to go out after him at 18 months old. My husband was just around the corner making a sandwich. We have doorknob covers on our front and back doors for that reason, but they know how to knock them off (which is good for emergencies, bad for tantrums). We can be playing outside and one or both of my mobile ones take off. You're not alone, just try to teach her the "whys" in terms of safety, and that some things just aren't funny. (Of course, if you figure out how to do that, please share, as I have three boys and my older two don't really get it yet, either!)

Oh, and I'm a huge fan of the harness backpack!!!!!!!!!

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answers from Chicago on

Get a hook latch for the top of your door. TODAY! We have a 2 yr old and are constantly double checking and asking each other if the door is latched. Our 9 yr old and 5 yr old are vigilant about checking that door latch too. Toddlers are super fast and sneaky! Now that she knows how to get out, she'll be trying it all the time.

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answers from Los Angeles on

OK, this is something to do before they start walking, but it's time to childproof the apartment, mama! Latches at the tops of doors, door covers, locks on cabinets, move things she can climb up on to reach dangerous items away, etc.

This is a great site, and you can sign up for emails:

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answers from Omaha on

Please, please, please invest in some door knob covers. And if possible, gate off the entryway too, since she's so quick. Two barriers should at least help slow her down! You may even want to look into wireless door buzzers/alarms that go off when the door opens so if she manages to open the door at night it would wake you. A quick google search should return plenty of child-proofing options.

In our area, things like this don't just end up in calls to CPS, they end up on the news. I hope the ideas you've been given help to prevent a dangerous situation for both you and your daughter.

Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

There are several ways to stop this. My kids know you don't touch the doors unless you ask first so I don't keep the top locks locked anymore but before that it was a habit hubby had to call when he was 5 minutes from home so I could unlock it for him.
Don't take your eyes off of her for a second. If your doing laundry have her help, cleaning give her a task in the room you are in, relaxing in the bedroom with hubby she should be with you or secure in her own room, etc

Start putting her in timeouts every time she even touches the door without your permission she'll figure it out real fast. If you don't stop this don't be surprised if one day cps knocks on your door. It's dangerous and if neighbors keep seeing her without you they will a. Think you arent supervising her or b. You aren't doing anything to prevent it from happening



answers from Grand Junction on

don't freak out, it happens to all of us. first, get a child lock on the door cause when they get older they get smarter and she'll learn how to unlock the door. second, teach her that running into the streets is dangerous as is being anywhere on her own, teach her about stranger danger. and let her know how it makes you feel when you can't find her. use terms she can understand. good luck



answers from Provo on

Welcome to life. You are not alone.

My sister (2 years old at the time) took off when we were moving in to our new house. Some people we didn't know found her and brought her to us, figuring that she might be ours. (This has been a few years ago.)

More recently (still a few years ago), I lived in a trailer park. My next door neighbor would get her two year old son dressed and spiffed up like little Mr. GQ. By the time he got out of her door, walked in front of our trailer,and knocked on our door, he would be totally naked, to my neighbor's great embarassment.

Stuff happens. These little folks are free agents.

Good luck!

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