Within her first year of life, your baby will reach several milestones and master many different skills. The biggest accomplishments will be mastering body movement as she learns how to crawl, stand and eventually walk.
Below are the different mobility phases your baby will reach and tips on how you can encourage her to get moving:
Between six and seven months, once your baby can sit up right without support, she’ll begin building the muscles she’ll need to learn how to crawl. At first, you may notice her shifting from a sitting up position to her hands and knees. From here she’ll learn how to rock back and forth until she’s confident enough to push off her knees and move backwards or forwards (usually around eight or nine months).
Encourage your baby to crawl and explore by:
- Placing toys or other interesting objects in front of her beyond her reach.
- Playing a game of Peek-a-boo behind a chair to entice her to come over to you.
- Creating an obstacle course made of pillows, blankets and toys for her to crawl through, under and over. Place her at the start of the course and sit at the end as you call her name and encourage her to come to you.
Keep in mind that some babies don’t crawl. Rather, they shuffle their bodies along the floor using their tummies (creeping) or skip the crawling stage altogether.
Between nine and 12 months, your baby’s legs and hips are now strong enough to support her standing with the help of railings, coffee tables, couches, your pant leg and anything else she can use! Give your baby the confidence to stand up on her own by:
- Placing toys on a couch or short table with smooth edges to encourage her to play while standing.
- Standing her up on your lap and helping her bounce up and down to strengthen leg muscles.
- Taking her to the stairs and encouraging her to stand up with the help of the next step.
Tip – help your baby achieve a firm stance by placing your hand behind her knees if she tends to fall easily.
Once your baby has begun to stand, she may start practicing where her legs and feet can take her! Before walking, she’ll test out the ability of limbs by taking some unsteady steps with the help of the living room furniture or you. This phase is called cruising.
Encourage her to walk and work on her strength and balance through praise. Clap your hands and cheer whenever she moves along with the help of a sturdy chair or table.
Babies at this stage are fast, so remember to supervise them at all times.
Around 10 to 18 months, your baby will take her first steps! This is a very exciting time for both you and her!
At this stage, your baby`s developed the confidence and muscle power to forego the furniture and take strides all on her own. You can encourage your baby to increase her self-assurance and walk by:
- Holding out your hands to encourage her to come to you. When she does, reward her with hugs and cheers.
- Luring her away from the furniture with her favourite snack or toy.
- Holding onto her hands and walking together until she`s comfortable to do it on her own.
Tip – hold off on buying baby shoes right away (unless she`s walking outside regularly). Going barefoot helps improve balance and coordination.
A Word about Safety
It`s amazing to watch your baby develop into an independent toddler. But a moving baby is vulnerable to accidents. For this reason, it`s important to ensure your home is safe for her to explore. Be sure to:
- Cover sharp corners on furniture with corner covers (you can buy these at your local hardware or department store).
- Never leave baby unattended on high surfaces such as chairs, couches or beds as they can crawl or roll off.
- Store anything considered “poison` such as cleaning supplies in a locked cabinet or up high so baby can`t reach.
- Place gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
- Regularly check floors and low shelves – remove anything sharp (such as pins or splinters), valuable and any small objects that babies could choke on.
- Clear away any tables or floor lamps that baby could easily tip over.
- Place protective covers over electrical sockets.