If your baby’s trying to stand up, you’re probably thinking about when she’ll take her first steps. Whether she’s a Speedy Gonzales or a cautious Kate, there’s plenty you can watch out for and do to encourage her mobility. “All babies develop at different rates. Some start walking at 9 months, while others wait until 14 months,” says Dr Kathleen Alfano PhD, director of child research at Fisher-Price. “Some don’t learn until 17 months or so, and that’s not a worry,” adds health visitor Kate Daymond. “As long as she’s moving quickly on her bottom it’s fine.”
Getting ready to toddle…
Now you’re relaxed about the ‘when’, it’s time to think more about the ‘how’ of walking. “Once she knows she can move, she’ll want to explore,” says Kate Daymond. “That’s when she’ll start ‘cruising’. That’s moving along holding onto furniture for support.”
Make sure sharp corners are protected, and let her go for it. You could even place objects near each other so she can reach out for the next one and let her feet follow.
Taking a stand
Activity walkers or toys that help your baby stand up can help her find her feet too, says Kathleen. “Before using a toy such as an activity walker, make sure your baby’s mastered the skill of cruising,” she adds. Even if she’s only standing and holding the handle of a push-along toy, she’s still strengthening her legs.
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Those first steps
Once your child’s standing, it’s time to encourage the first tentative toddle. Move her on from cruising by holding her hands and you’ll then find she might be able to stand (if in a wobbly way!) on her own before plonking back down onto her bottom. From there, she’ll start to take one, then two steps, plonk down again, then pull herself up and try a couple more. “As long your baby is given the opportunity to stand and weight-bear – that’s putting her weight fully onto her feet when they’re flat – she’s doing fine,” says Kate. “Be patient. Your tot will build up confidence as you encourage her.” Just make sure you’ve got the camera ready!
Music can help with encouraging your child’s movement. It’s a great way to stimulate coordination between her arms and legs.
“At first I’d sit a couple of feet away from Jack and encourage him to walk to me. The first time he did it I almost cried! Then he got braver and would go between me and my husband Tom, taking a couple of steps each time before collapsing. We would go further and further apart until he was taking six, seven, eight steps. Then he got his confidence up and would toddle on his own. Soon after that he was off!”
Clare Beith, 35, from Hertfordshire, mum to Jack, 2