GFM AUG 2015
Is your baby on schedule for tummy time, pulling up, crawling, and walking?
From scooting to crawling to cruising, babies learn how to get around during eight to 12 months of age. So now is the time to childproof your home, if you haven’t already. Be especially careful to gate staircases and block off rooms that you’d rather your baby didn’t explore.
How Is My Baby Moving?
By now, your baby is sitting and using his or her hands ever so often for support. Once comfortable in this position, your baby will learn to turn and reach for objects without falling over. Your baby will also get better at changing positions and soon figure out how to get into a sitting position, then pull up to stand.
When on the stomach, your baby will learn to push up onto the hands and knees and rock back and forth. This little “exercise” is working the arm and leg muscles, getting your child ready to propel forward (or backward) in an attempt to get moving.
Some babies are better at crawling than others, so don’t worry if your child has developed some novel ways of getting around, including rolling, scooting on his or her bottom, or creeping.
As long as your baby is using the arms and legs on both sides of the body and shows an interest in exploring surroundings, there’s usually no reason to be concerned.
Leg muscles have gotten stronger from standing, bouncing, and crawling. Now is the time for your baby to start taking steps while holding on to the couch, coffee table, or other pieces of furniture for balance. This is called “cruising.” You can encourage it by holding your baby’s hands while your little one takes a few steps.
Fine motor and hand-eye coordination also continue to improve during this period, and your baby will develop the ability to pick up very small things, including cereal, with dexterity. This coordination can range from an awkward, raking grasp to a precise finger-to-thumb pincer grasp.
Give your baby safe areas to practice moving and many chances to move—limit the time your baby spends in strollers, cribs, and other equipment that restricts movement.
Allow for tummy time so your baby is in the right position to practice crawling. Help your baby get onto his or her hands and knees, put a favorite toy out of reach, and encourage your baby to move toward the desired object.
Encourage walking by letting your baby cruise along the furniture (remove or pad furniture with sharp edges), holding your baby’s hands while he or she practices. Walkers are frowned on by the American Academy of Pediatrics as each year, thousands of children end up in the hospital due to injuries from using walkers, such as toppling down the stairs or reaching a hot stove.
Additionally, when trying to encourage walking, it’s time to say goodbye to bouncers and elliptical seats. While they hold kids in an upright position, they don’t help them learn to walk any faster. In fact, these devices may even delay walking if they’re used too often.
Don’t forget that, when indoors, it’s best to let your child walk around barefoot. Her feet can more easily grab slippery surfaces, like wood and tile floors, allowing her to gain stability and confidence when trying to walk.
Of course, when she’s outdoors, she’ll need a pair of properly fitted shoes to protect her feet. Don’t shop for shoes first thing in the morning, since feet grow about 5% by the end of the day. Your child should be standing when you check for fit. You should be able to press the full width of your thumb between the tip of the shoe and the end of her toe, and there should be just enough room at the heel to squeeze your pinkie in.
When to Call the Doctor
Most babies take their first steps around their first birthday, but the age range varies from nine to 18 months. Don’t worry if your baby takes a few detours along the way. Some kids never crawl—they go straight from standing to walking—and that’s perfectly normal. What’s important at this stage is that your child is using arms and legs together to become mobile. If your child is doing any of the following, walking is not far behind: rolling around, crab walking, climbing stairs using his hands, and/or scooting.
Look at your child’s progress. Is she doing more this month than last month? Is she getting a little bit more of her body off the ground? If so, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
If by the end of her first year she doesn’t make any effort to get around somehow, then talk to your doctor. See your child’s pediatrician if your child does not: crawl, creep, or scoot around, stand when supported, use both sides of her body equally, and if she does not seem to have good control of her hands. Normal child development tends to follow a certain pattern. The skills that babies develop early serve as building blocks for future skills. Still, the time it takes to develop these skills can vary widely among kids. If you’re concerned about your baby’s development, speak with your doctor.
Courtesy of Nemours.