How your baby learns to stand
Once your baby has discovered the joys of moving around the floor under her own steam, she’ll be ready to discover the next new step, by getting up on her feet.
Somewhere around eight or nine months she’ll have both the strength to support her own body weight for a time, and to heave herself up to a standing position using whatever’s handy as a support.
You’re a human climbing frame!
In the early days she’s most likely to use you as support. If you’re sitting with her then you offer various choice handholds for her clambering, you can move with her as she tries to find her balance and your closeness is reassuring as she experiments.
Very quickly she’ll move on to using bits of furniture to pull up on – low tables that are a good height to reach to, boxes and toy chests and the bars of her cot or playpen.
For some babies, being upright isn’t enough and they’ll be keen to walk around with your support straight away, albeit with very wobbly steps. Other babies take a more leisurely approach and enjoy simply standing up, and looking around.
Cruising the room
As she gains confidence and stability she’ll want to let go of one of your hands and grab hold of something else, or begin to move sideways along a piece of furniture to reach something interesting (and probably something you thought you had put out of reach!)
As her balance and coordination improve she’ll be able to stand one-handed for longer periods, and maybe even manage a brief spell completely unsupported.
At this stage she’ll be able to reach out from one support to the next in order to move around the room and will probably get down on the floor to crawl between open gaps before pulling herself up on the next bit of furniture, a skill known as ‘cruising’.
What goes up…
Once upright, some babies will have no problem getting back down again but many will need help, even when they can stand quite stably, and may cling on grimly while crying for help when tired. It’s also common for babies to bounce down onto their bottoms at first.
If she’s happy standing until tired but then is scared of getting back to the floor again then try to show her how to sit back down again by bending her knees.
What you can do to help
1) Give support
This is a very exciting developmental stage for both of you, and often a nerve-wracking one for mum and dad too. As your baby starts to experiment with standing she’ll need lots of support and attention, particularly before she learns to get back down again, which may take quite a few weeks.
2) Lie on the floor
Offer your hands as support and if you lie on your side on the floor next to her then you’ll be at a comfortable height for her to reach up to. Soon she’ll be pulling herself up on your legs too. When she’s standing up against furniture you can stay close, maybe even circling her with your arms in case of a fall, but without interfering with her growing independence.
3) Make your home safe
Your baby will probably be more concerned with the height of an object to pull up than with its stability, so it’s time yet again to re-assess your rooms for safety. You’ll also need to adjust to what’s newly accessible to your upwardly mobile baby. It’s at this stage that a play pen can really come in handy for when you need to leave her for a minute to use the bathroom or answer the ‘phone, at least you’ll know then that she should have a soft landing if she does fall.