Somewhere around the age of nine to twelve months, your baby will begin to transition from crawling, to standing, to walking. There's no rulebook that comes with having kids (which parents know all too well!), so it may be that your baby walks a little earlier or a little later. Every kid's different and that's perfectly fine.
When Baby Learns to Walk
So your not-so-little one is walking. Now what?!? For starters, be afraid, be very afraid. They'll fall constantly, climb on things that aren't meant for climbing, touch things that shouldn't be touched, eat things that aren't meant to be eaten...get my point? And it's all perfectly normal (breathe a deep sigh of relief, feel terrified, breathe again, repeat). This is the beginning of them starting to explore.
This exciting developmental milestone of taking their first steps means that your baby is starting to transition into toddlerhood. They'll toddle around in an effort to get familiar with what it’s like to stand, balance and ultimately walk on their own two feet. During this discovery process, it’s very likely that they’ll run into things and take some tumbles along the way. Don’t worry, all will be fine. These bumps and bruises help them learn how the whole balancing act works.
At times, they may choose to return to crawling - which is normal as well. After all, crawling is practically second nature to them at this point, and it’s also an effective and proven method to get somewhere quickly. Eventually, they’ll figure out that walking, and then running (which is when you REALLY need to get scared!) are even faster. Plus, two-legged transport has the benefit of freeing up their hands to be able to carry a favorite blankie, toy, or snack too. Eventually, they’ll use walking to transition into a full-blown miniature explorer that will require constant supervision.
How Parents Can Help
Moms and Dads can lend a hand to hold and be available to comfort their little one when they take a tumble. Your roles are less about aiding with the physical progress, as it’s best for baby to figure that part out at the pace that comes naturally to them. There is no rush and this is not a competition. Their muscles and strength are developing as they learn how to balance on their own two feet. This takes time and you can expect that there will be bumps and bruises along the way. They may get discouraged. Tears may fall - both on their chubby little cheeks and yours.
Frankly, the best thing that parents can offer is lots of praise and encouragement. Having personal cheerleaders by their side during this process is a huge help and can boost your newly-minted toddler’s confidence.
Safeguard Your Toddler (and Your Stuff)
You’ve probably already taken steps to baby-proof your house at the crawling level. Now is the time to pay really close attention to the next level up - think of it as toddler-proofing.
When it comes to furniture there are 3 main risks here: climbing, pulling and running/bumping into things. For some reason, walking and climbing seem to go hand-in-hand with these muchkins. Fun for kids, terrifying for parents. Expect that they’ll climb onto EVERYTHING. Cribs, tables, bed, chairs and anything within reach. When it comes to climbing out of cribs we always recommend that you lower the bed to the lowest possible setting and put them in a pair of our cute and comfy Little Grounders. Crib escapes can sometimes be cute and funny (check out our “Great Crib Escapes” Video Gallery), but they can also be extremely dangerous. A study published in the online Pediatrics journal in February 2011 found that nearly 10,000 children – an average of one every hour - is taken to the emergency room because they have fallen from or become caught in their crib or play pen. Little Grounders pajamas helps keep little ones in their cribs with an novel design that gives babies and toddler enough flexibility to walk, run, jump or play, but not enough to climb.
When standing upright, your little explorer’s head may be at the same level as sharp corners of coffee tables or tv stands. Ouch! To reduce the risk of a painful collision, add padding to these or block them off. Your toddler may be tempted to use anything within reach to pull themselves to standing position (including your dog!) When possible, secure or relocate anything that is not stable enough to offer such support. Preventing ouchies before they have a chance to happen is a great strategy.
Decorations and Small Objects
Your munchkin can now reach things they couldn’t before - and they’ll probably go after the things that they know are off-limits whenever they see an opportunity to do so. Make sure anything that shouldn’t be in their hands is inaccessible. Your favorite coffee mug at the edge of the table, tchotkes on the windowsill, the novel you’ve been reading (and you best believe they’ll make sure to pull the bookmark out so you lose your place!), keys to the car... patience, young grasshopper!
Outside Your Home
Be extra diligent when visiting friends or relatives. Your toddler is going to view any new environment as an open invitation to explore. Uncharted territory is SO exciting! If you think that they enjoy climbing out the crib, just wait until they see your mom's antique coffee table. You certainly won’t have control over what they find enticing to go after, but you can steer them away from anything that isn’t okay to get into.
So, now you officially have a toddler. The upright mobility your baby has attained is going to keep you on your toes. Get ready for the ride. Spoiler alert: it’s a roller coaster!
A Little Love,
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