Before becoming a dad I prided myself on how rarely I got ill.

Now I’m happy if I get through a week without feeling off-colour. I don’t think there has been more than five straight days since Erin was born which didn’t include one of us coughing, sneezing, or being unwell.

My own list includes several colds, two stomach bugs, an ear infection, and, my particular favourite, hand, foot, and mouth disease.

The last one was an interesting disease which started as a tingling sensation then turned into very sore red spots. Walking or holding objects was painful but it had the benefit of making washing up dishes impossible.

In fact it could be many months before I’m able to wash up again — at least that’s what I’m telling Clare.

It’s easy to see how bugs travel from baby to parent since most days I’m wiping away discharge from one end or the other. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been playfully holding Erin up in the air only for her to drip saliva onto my face.

On one memorable occasion I was blowing raspberries on her feet whilst changing a nappy (a sure-fire way to keep her from crying) when I realised her foot was damp and a there was a funny taste in my mouth. Looking at the change-mat my worst fear was confirmed. Erin has peed onto the mat, then put her foot in the puddle just before I grabbed hold of it.

Thankfully Erin’s illnesses have usually been minor. We’ve taken her to the doctor’s three times when unwell; twice for skin rashes, and once for a cough that wouldn’t leave. Unfortunately all three times were within a month of me taking over as the stay-at-home parent, making me wonder if the doctor has put an arrow next to our family name and the words ‘hypochondriac parent’.

Even when Erin isn’t ill I worry about her catching something, injuring herself or otherwise being in distress.

As a newborn, we treated her like she was made of glass and on the first day on the labour ward we were nervous just putting a vest over her head. Then a midwife came over to demonstrate how best to bath babies. Clare and I watched aghast as she wrapped Erin tightly in a towel and held our delicate newborn under her arm like a rugby ball.

It was clear our baby was more resilient than we supposed.

I asked a friend whose own kids are almost teenagers if it was common to fret about your child.

“You’re a parent now.”, he replied, “Worrying is what you do.”

He was right - but what neither me or Clare want is for our concerns to spiral into wrapping Erin in a protective bubble. Going for inoculations is good example. You feel guilty about the pain of the needle, but the dangers of disease are much worse. Also getting hurt followed by crying and hugs gives babies an early insight into what to expect from life as an adult.

Now Erin is crawling there are even more situations where we walk the tightrope between being sensible and being over-cautious. So far we’ve put baby gates on the stairs, covers on the plug sockets and a fireguard in the living room. For everything else we’ve stuck to shouting “Erin, stop!” and lunging across the room when she ignores us.

Giving kids space to explore is how they develop. Falling over, bumping into things, and even getting ill is part of learning.

I'll never stop worrying about Erin but as she grows I'll do my best not to let my fears stop her gaining new experiences. Unless it's something that looks really dangerous, in which case I'm grounding her till she is 25.