They’re Off… Crawling and Walkingposted by: mothercare
And they’re off! Around 9 months old many babies are sitting unsupported and keen to explore the world around them even further. You may have noticed your baby rising up on all fours, lifting their body as if they’re ready to move off and then crumple to the floor at the sheer effort of it all. Don’t worry, this is a typical pre-crawling stage, testing out the component parts that make actual crawling a possibility. They will attempt to crawl when they are ready and not before.
When you think about the coordination involved in crawling you’ll understand why you might be seeing some ‘false starts’; it’s all very well getting into position but moving is another thing completely!
On My Tummy or On My Bottom
Some babies crawl on their tummies and some crawl on their bottoms; both methods are fine and your baby will do what suits them best. Regardless of the method they adopt, it all responds to children’s innate urge to move and discover. Some children never crawl at all.
Developmentally they typically get into their preferred crawling position and then make some experimental movements, this is often accompanied by them making eye contact with a person, place or item that they want. To start off it takes a little while to coordinate hands and feet to move their body weight and holding up the body is hard work so they may well set off somewhere and then flop for a rest.
The Fun of it All
Those first crawling expeditions are wonderful! The discovery that they can move themselves from one place to another is a revelation, often both for baby and parents. Once this skill is mastered, and it often only takes a day or two when they’re ready, it becomes the thing to do and you’ll find yourself in a very different landscape of childcare- this time with a highly mobile person! As with all new skills, it’s the practice that makes it perfect.
Playing games such as letting them see you hiding toys and encouraging them to crawl over to find them are great. They love to be chased or do the chasing and crawling now makes this possible. Chase noisy toys such as the BABY SAFARI CHIME BALL. Walk from one place to another and encourage them to join you
Do you know how old you were when you learnt to walk? Our guess is that it was somewhere between 10 - 20 months. That seems like a very wide age range doesn’t it, but that’s not unusual in any way. As with all other developmental progress, walking is an extremely individual activity.
What it Takes to Walk
Walking is a combination of all the physical and cognitive skills your child has previously mastered and whilst it is a notable milestone in itself, it only happens as a result of what’s taken place before. Think of all their previous achievements as creating the blueprint for this next stage.
When we walk as adults we don’t need to consciously think about it but our young children need to concentrate very hard when they first take those faltering steps. This can be an emotional time too as some young children need to feel very confident and secure before they risk taking a step.
Expect many falls and tumbles during this time and your young child tries to balance, focus, move, coordinate, have spatial awareness, listen and be observant; it’s not easy. Offer a guiding hand when needed.
The First Few Steps
Their first few steps are going to be an absolute voyage of discovery for them and often that first time consists of no more than a couple of juddery leg movements which by chance are collectively called walking. They’ll either topple over or drop to the floor but then stand up and try again. Gradually more steps will be added as they get their balance and they will be able to set their sights on a destination and arrive there by walking.
Be aware that walking will take all their concentration so try not to distract with too many verbal suggestions, enabling them to focus. However, be as encouraging as possible and enjoy this achievement with them. They are likely to be very busy walking and honing this skill at this stage but also tired as physically and cognitively it’s very demanding.
I Can't Stop Walking!
Being able to stop is an entirely different skill altogether and so be prepared that at the start your child may simply drop to the floor and crawl the rest of the way as they near their destination. Avoiding obstacles, turning and walking backwards also comes later!
Toys that react when pushed or moved really appeal to new walkers, for example the LIGHTS AND SOUND WALKER has everything that a child could want and they are able to make it react.
Written by Early Years Specialist Rosemary Albone