As a new dad, witnessing your baby's growth and development is a joyous experience. One of the most exciting milestones in your little one's life is learning to walk. While every child develops at their own pace, understanding the typical stages of learning to walk can help you support and encourage your baby as they take their first steps. In this easy-to-read guide, we'll explore this incredible journey and provide some helpful tips to help your baby transition into walking on their own.
Stage 1: Creeping
At around 6 to 8 months, your baby may start creeping or scooting on their belly, moving forward without getting up on their hands and knees. Some babies may even roll around to explore their surroundings. It's an essential pre-crawling skill that helps them build upper body strength and coordination.
Stage 2: Crawling
Crawling typically follows creeping, and it can occur between 7 to 10 months. Your little one will now support themselves on their hands and knees while moving around, giving them newfound independence. However, keep in mind that not all babies crawl, and some may skip this stage altogether.
Stage 3: Stepping with Support
Around 9 to 12 months, your baby will start showing signs of wanting to stand. With your help, they'll take those precious first steps while holding onto your hands or the edge of furniture. These assisted steps help with building their leg muscles and balance.
Stage 4: Pulling Up
Between 9 to 12 months, your baby will begin pulling themselves up on furniture or your legs. This is an exciting stage as they gain more confidence in their ability to stand on their own two feet.
Stage 5: Cruising
Cruising usually starts at 10 to 13 months. Your baby will hold onto furniture, walls, or any stable object they can find to move around while standing. It's like their own version of "walking" along the furniture, and it's an important step towards independent walking.
Stage 6: Those First Steps
The magic moment you've been waiting for! At around 12 to 18 months, many babies take their first steps. Those wobbly and uncertain steps will soon turn into confident strides as they gain more practice and build their walking skills.
Tips for Encouraging Your Baby's Walking Journey:
1) Provide a Safe Environment: Clear the floor of any hazards, secure heavy furniture, and create a safe space for your baby to explore without the risk of tripping or falling.
2) Use Toys: While some baby walkers (such as the ones with seats that can move) can be used to encourage walking, they are not recommended as they have safety risks and do not develop the legs properly. Instead, doctors are recommending an activity center with a seat that does not move or push walking toys (such as little grocery carts). While these toys are a lot safer, they still need supervision from a parent or caregiver.
3) Celebrate Efforts: Praise and encourage your little one when they attempt to walk, even if they stumble. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in building their confidence.
4) Physical Play: Engage in fun physical playtime activities that encourage movement, such as crawling races or reaching for toys while standing.
5) Supportive Shoes: While walking indoors, let your baby explore barefoot to help their muscles develop naturally. Once outside or in potentially dangerous areas, invest in well-fitting, flexible shoes to support their feet.
6) Be Patient: Remember, every baby is unique, and some may take longer to start walking. Avoid comparing your child's progress to others and let them develop at their own pace.
As a father, you play a vital role in supporting your baby's journey to walking. Embrace this exciting phase with patience, love, and encouragement. Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small, and enjoy the moments as your little one discovers the world on their own two feet. Before you know it, you'll be chasing after them as they explore and grow in their newfound independence!