How to deal with a leg limpet

Do you have a leg limpet? No not a limp. A limpet.

That’s not a small limp, in the way that a small pig is a piglet. Limpets are small creatures with amazing powers of suction.

baby holding onto dad's leg

A leg limpet about to attach itself


There is a simple checklist to determine if you have been afflicted with a leg limpet:

Do you have a baby? If you answered no to this question you may continue reading but you are limpet free.

If you said yes, where is your baby? In bed? If they are awake please locate the baby. Can you see them?

If you said no, please look down. Can you see them now?

If you said yes, are they attached to your leg?

If so, can you remove them?

If you said no or with great difficulty there is a high likelihood that you have a leg limpet.


Ours appeared quite recently, but I’ve read that between nine and eleven months after birth is a common time for them to appear. You will have noticed your baby crawling and possibly trying to stand. But the main clue is the constant presence. Not that you have ever wandered off and left your baby alone before. But there might have been times when there was a distance between you, a few feet perhaps.

With the leg limpet there is literally no room for manoeuvre. You will struggle to get a sheet of paper in between the baby and your leg; a hand is out of the question. You’ve probably got a few questions about how to deal with this latest incarnation of your little one.

So here are my do’s and don’ts for handling leg limpets:

  1. Do not try to remove them. Attempts at removal will be met by strong physical resistance. The limpet may tighten its grip, to the extent that your circulation may be cut off. You won’t want this to happen as you may be standing in the same position for several minutes. It may also cause your limpet to cry loudly. The exception to this rule is if you are in mortal danger, being chased by a tiger for example, or walking halfway across a wire strung between two tall buildings.
  2. Do chat to them. Depending on how well your limpet understands your mother tongue you may wish to ask what it is doing there. Or you could try explaining that you’re a bit busy right now. I’m not suggesting this will actually serve much purpose but it will help pass the time.
  3. Do not attempt to walk away. Leg limpets are surprisingly heavy, partly due to their low centre of gravity. The most likely outcome is that they will be dragged behind you along the floor. This is not much fun for you, it may be fun for the limpet depending on their general disposition and current mood. At this point you may wish to try to pick the limpet up, especially if there’s someone at the door, your phone is ringing, you need the loo. However, see point one above.
  4. Do try to find ways of avoiding the limpet attaching itself to you in the first place. This is definitely the preferred option but it won’t always be possible. If you are in the same room and need to do something useful like hoover, change a lightbulb, or make a gin and tonic, the safest option may be to buy a playpen. That way your limpet can see you but can’t attach itself. They may still cry but you can throw them a carrot stick with your free hand.
  5. Don’t assume that just because someone else is looking after your limpet that they won’t want to be attached to you. Leg limpets usually prefer to attach themselves to their mum or dad. If you’re lucky they might choose a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a friend of yours. In that case find reasons to keep inviting them round so you can actually get dressed or eat food that doesn’t come in a packet.
  6. Do find ways of distracting your leg limpet. A favourite toy dangled enticingly above them may result in enough loss of grip to allow you to escape. So keep these close at hand, in a pocket perhaps. Just remember not to take a cuddly rabbit to work with you.
  7. Finally, do not despair. Leg limpets will get bored eventually and wander off to play with the cat’s food again, or try to pull the TV over, or do a dirty protest.

According to those wise people who write parenting books Baby B is not the worst leg limpet. And I’ve heard about people who can’t even use the loo without their limpet remaining attached. “But why is this happening to me?” I hear you cry in my over-active imagination. You may well be very confused that no sooner has your baby learned to move all they want to do is stay next to you.

Well back to those books and our universal oracle the internet: it’s all about separation anxiety. Your little one has realised you can actually leave them, but they haven’t yet worked out that you will definitely come back. Under the age of around six months your baby didn’t realise you still existed when you left the room.

Once ‘object permanence’ is established they know things still exist when they can’t see them. Unfortunately they don’t yet have a concept of time, of what can happen next or how long that might be. So one minute away is the same as an hour until you return.

You could try leaving the room and coming back in quickly, then leaving it a bit longer, and longer and so on until your baby is comfortable with the idea that you can leave and return.

Most babies should grow out of this phase by their first birthday, and if this coincides with mum going back to work that should make leaving them with someone else a bit easier, for the baby at least.

And that is the bit of parenthood we are approaching. Mrs B heads back to the office full-time in three weeks. We’ve got a great childminder lined up after all our previous worries about this issue. So I am sure this will be a subject I’ll be writing about again.

In the meantime, my leg seems to have become heavier, so if you’ll excuse me I need to go and try tip number six! Bye for now…

I’ve linked up with #FridayFrolics

Friday Frolics

Categories: Advice

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11 replies »

  1. Haha, great post – our little one is 7.5 months, so I’m guessing it might not be long until I find myself with a limpet – at least I now know what to do and what not to do though! Cheers 🙂

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  2. Very funny! Yep, I have a limpet – he’s not too bad these days (at 22 months) but it was limpet city for a good while previously. He was always most limpet like when I was trying to make dinner – I think he thought his limpet like ways would speed up the food-bringing and trying number 2 just never seemed to wash with him! #fridayfrolics

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  3. Hehe. Ah I’m so looking forward to this stage. I’m sure my now 5-month old will get ‘limpeting’ down to a fine art if her current love of the sling is anything to go by!

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    • He’s better some days. By the time i have him on a Friday he’s usually knackered from all the hot housing at our child minder’s. But so far separation anxiety hasn’t been too bad. He basically loves anyone who’ll give him a wave.