There's no good way to prepare a baby to compete in a Diaper Derby. The annual event at Naperville's Last Fling is shrouded in mystery up until just minutes before the race.
There's no registration allowing you to scout the competition. There's no telling even how many babies will even be in the race. Even the blue gym mats comprising the actual course, which heat up quickly in the summer sun, aren't laid out until just before the babies are comfortably on all fours awaiting the starting whistle.
And then there's the question of motivation. How does a parent encourage a baby to crawl the full length of a gym mat in a generally straight route?
On Saturday, some parents lured their tots with flavored puff snacks. Others jangled keys, favorite toys or sloshed water bottles. But strategy mostly goes out the window when the loud cheering starts, jarring the babies and causing them to cry.
Yet none of that phased 10-month-old Callie Sterner, of Naperville. She needed no motivation other than her smiling dad, Jim, and some words of encouragement from her mom, Alice Loan.
Callie began crawling at about six months, giving her nearly 16 weeks of practice. She coordinated her arms and legs in an alternating forward fashion, shunning the controversial butt-scoot technique employed by at least one competitor, and coasted her way to victory with minimal drooling.
At the finish, Callie received a yellow first-place ribbon to commemorate her victory along with an abundance of hugs and kisses from her parents. Callie was speechless in the aftermath. But her mom shared the closely-kept secret of her daughter's victory.
"She's very mobile around the house," Loan said. "We think she'll be walking soon."