Having a kid that walks means you no longer have a baby. Instead, you’re the proud father of a toddler. Seeing your kid make this transition is kind of a bittersweet moment, really. It’s sweet in that your kid has started conquering gravity and experiencing a new sense of freedom. It’s bitter in that you now need to acknowledge your so-and-so is growing up. Also, all of the beers that were once safe from grasping hands are now in serious danger of being dumped on the floor.
But sacrificing a couple beers is no biggie when your kid’s toddling is at stake. So here’s how you can get your favorite babbler on their feet.
The Steps To Stepping
You know that illustration of evolution that starts out with a crouching monkey and ends with some super confident upright dude striding into the future? Well, it’s kind of like that with your kid. The difference is that your pre-walker starts more like a worm, and might skip the all fours part altogether. (Okay, so maybe it’s not all like that illustration but whatever.)
Here’s how the general mobility progression usually takes place:
Rolling: Going from tummy to back and back again is the first step of the quest.
Push Ups: These tummy time exercises are crucial to getting the strength to crawl and cruise.
Sitting: Gotta have that core tight if you want to get on the road, bro.
Crawling And The Like: Crawling is a pretty broad term. This could also be scooting, crab walking, or calling an Uber because, screw it.
Pulling Up: Getting from the floor to an upright position with the use of your upper body. You’ll remember this from your college benders.
Cruising: Not to be confused with driving around aimlessly in a hotrod, this is actually the stage of standing upright and walking assisted by furniture and walls.
Walking: The gold standard of mammal ambulation.
From Pulling Up To Cruising
Around the 8 to 9 month mark your kid will probably be pulling up. There will be plenty of wobbly smiles that rise over the lip of the couch cushion before disappearing with a plop. The key is to make sure your kid has enough room to do this. And you’ll want to make sure that whatever they’re pulling up on is securely in place. Unless you didn’t want that vase. Or a not-broken child.
Once your kid is relatively stable they’ll start moving laterally along whatever can support them (or not support them, toddlers are frankly pretty lax in their knowledge of structural engineering). You can help them out with this by arranging sturdy furniture in a way that lets them traverse certain areas. Just be aware that they are now taller. The long-stemmed wine glasses will not be long for this world.
Walker, Tile Ranger
Your kid might strike out with their first step anytime from 7 months to 14 months of age. The range is pretty extreme, so don’t get freaked out if you think your kid is slow to be bipedal. Just relax knowing that you don’t have to chase them yet (or buy one of those embarrassing baby leashes).
While you’re waiting for them to take some steps, there are some things you can do to help out:
Give Them Lots Of Practice
That means letting them cruise as much as possible. Spend time doing that thing where you bend over and help them walk while they hold onto your thumbs. Or let them walk assisted by the stroller if you’re on an outing.
This is not a time for baby swings, play yards or activity centers. Your cruiser needs to be upright and unencumbered. Free to range (within in a strictly restricted baby proofed area).
There are a couple of reasons that the American Academy of Pediatrics has put a big red x on baby walkers. First, they don’t actually help a kid learn to walk. Second, it makes the kid way faster, meaning they can get to dangerous stuff before you do, including stairs. Making it less of a walker and more of a thump-thump-thump-crasher.
If you really want to give them something to assist the walking process, go for one of those toy shopping carts or other pushy-type contraption.
Your kid’s feet will get stronger the less they have on them. Going barefoot aides in building all the right muscles for walking. If you’re really worried their toes will freeze get them some socks, but make sure they have that grippy rubber on the bottom. They’ll have plenty of time later to learn the joys of the hallway sock slide.
In terms of getting your kid to take their actual first steps, you’ll get a sense for when that’s coming down. You will not be able to help yourself from getting down on the floor with your partner and playing pass the baby. Just make sure to charge your cell phone. Because in terms of social media gold, baby walking is only rivaled by people biting it on skateboards. After all, one does precede the other.