But did you know that before your child is even one month old, he?s already preparing to take his first tottering steps?
Every time your baby moves, she?s practicing ways to make her body act the way she wants it to. Infants develop from top to bottom. Head movements come first, then neck muscles begin to strengthen. Development continues on to the arms, hands, legs and feet. For example, once your baby learns to control her head and neck, she?s on her way to mastering sitting. Kicking, rolling, kneeling on all fours?these skills eventually combine to create crawling, and crawling leads to walking.
How and when a baby learns to crawl and then walk is a complicated matter. Everything in his surroundings plays a part. The relationship between what?s around him and how he?s allowed to interact with his environment are vital to his development. Experts have learned that babies who receive lots of physical and visual stimulation early on will crawl and walk earlier than babies who are often confined to a crib or playpen.
Under your close supervision, your baby should be allowed the freedom to explore her world. Remember to provide lots of encouragement, offering praise for her successes, even if she?s simply reaching out to grab a stuffed bear. It?s this kind of learning that will prepare her for the bigger things like walking.
It?s important to remember that every baby has his own timetable. Learning and perfecting physical skills require both coordination and mental readiness. Pressuring your baby to take his first steps before he?s ready can cause more frustration than success. While it?s fine to encourage your baby to walk, don?t overdo it. And keep in mind that crawling is more than a stop on the way to walking. It?s an important develop mental milestone in itself. Since a moving baby has greater control of her world, crawling allows her to decide where to go and what to explore. It develops muscles, builds coordination and contributes to your baby?s intelligence.
No one can predict when your baby will walk, but there are clues that she?s likely to start trying. Look for these signs:
- Pulling herself up to a standing position by holding onto furniture or your leg.
- Using furniture as a support and moving from one piece to another.
- Balancing by holding out his arms stiff from his sides and spreading his legs wide apart.
- Attempting one or two small steps, usually in reaching for an object or in moving toward Mom or Dad.
?Mary M. Bradford
Writer, nurse, mother of two
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