Cruising refers to walking with the support of objects or furniture, and it is one of the vital physical development milestones in a baby’s life. It would succeed crawling and precede walking. Most babies begin cruising spontaneously, while some babies cruise and crawl concurrently. Irrespective of the way your baby cruises, it is widely believed that cruising strengthens leg muscles, making it an essential precursor to walking.
This post tells you when your baby will cruise, how it evolves, how to encourage it, and ways to keep the little one safe while they cruise around.
When Do Infants Start Cruising?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies begin to cruise anytime between the ages of eight and 12 months (1). It is also the phase when your baby will learn to crawl. As your baby becomes adept at crawling, they will pull to stand, that is, get into a standing position while using an object for support.
Most babies can cruise by the age of 12 months, but each baby develops at their own pace. If your baby can crawl and pull to stand by the age of 12 months, they are on the right track of physical development, even if they cannot cruise (2). A baby will eventually learn to cruise between the ages of 12 and 18 months, and most babies are adept at walking without support by 18 months (3).
How Does Cruising Evolve In Babies?
- The first step towards cruising is the ability to stand. Your baby may use objects, your hands, or even the support of a toy to get themselves into a standing position.
- The leg muscles are strong enough to propel the baby while crawling but may not hold the baby in a standing position for too long. Therefore, infants may crawl to reach a spot, pull to stand, and get back to crawling to move to the next point of interest.
- The baby may hold an object with two hands when they begin cruising. They might come to a standing position if support from one hand is removed or might fall.
- The initial steps while cruising are likely to be wobbly. Some babies might even walk sidewards while holding on to a support, such as a wall, at the front. A baby may even alternate between crawling and cruising.
- As the leg muscles become stronger, the baby may only use one hand for support. The cruising is likely to be still wobbly while the baby’s steps might be wider. The feet may touch the ground with inaccuracy.
- Once your baby is over 12 months old, they are likely to let go of both their hands and take a few steps without support. This usually indicates that the baby has reached the end of the cruising stage and will gradually progress to walking.
How To Encourage Cruising?
If your baby has begun cruising, you can encourage them through the following ways.
1. Set up a safe environment
Create a safe environment for the baby to stand and cruise. You must begin by babyproofing your house. You can babyproof by doing the following things (6).
- Keep any items with chemicals away from the baby’s reach to prevent accidental ingestion. It includes detergents, paint, domestic cleaners, and bleach.
- Make sure choking hazards are beyond the baby’s reach. A few examples are beads in curtains, refrigerator magnets, coins, batteries, and screws.
- Cover electrical outlets with an outlet cover for the baby’s safety.
- Cover sharp corners of objects or walls with bumpers.
- You may place a padded mat or carpet on the floor of the room where your baby is likely to cruise.
- Remove any objects that have the potential to fall if the baby cruises while holding on to them. Remove cupboards that may fall due to the baby’s weight. Also, remove any showpieces or objects that may fall on the baby while they cruise.
2. Place objects for cruising
Place objects that the baby can hold on to while cruising. You may rearrange the furniture at your home to place heavy objects in your baby’s room or wherever they cruise the most. These objects must not fall when the baby pulls to stand and should be heavy enough to constantly support the baby’s weight.
There are large toys specially designed for cruising. Some toys may even have wheels to move along with the cruising baby. Pick a toy that best works for your baby. Remember to check the toy’s age and weight limit before purchase.
3. Entice the baby
Place the baby’s favorite toy or ask a parent to stand at a place to encourage the baby to cruise and reach them. Begin by with a short distance and increase the distance as the baby grows better at cruising.
If the baby crawls and cruises intermittently, you may leave a trail of toys on the floor that the child can follow. If you wish to encourage pull to stand and cruising simultaneously, place toys at a height where the baby can reach only while standing and cruising. These measures can also help strengthen the baby’s leg muscles and help with walking.
Observe the baby as they evolve at cruising and make changes to these activities accordingly. Plenty of encouragement and cuddles help the baby stay motivated while trying new skills.
How To Ensure The Baby’s Safety While Cruising?
Beyond creating a safe environment, the following measures help keep cruising safe for your baby (7).
- Ensure no loose toys or clothes lying on the ground since the baby might trip on them.
- Do not leave the baby alone when they are experimenting with cruising or standing.
- Put folding chairs and tables out of the safe zone because the baby can get their fingers or toes caught in them.
- If your home has stairways, place guards/blockades at the bottom and top to keep the baby out.
- If you have other children or pets at home, make sure you take the requisite measures to prevent them from accidentally tripping the baby during cruising.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does my baby need shoes when cruising?
No. Your baby does not need shoes while cruising indoors. Cruising barefoot could strengthen leg muscles and may even help the baby attain the walking skill earlier (8). Your baby will need shoes while cruising outdoors (9). Pick shoes that offer protection, fit snugly, and have an even sole. Speak to your pediatrician to determine the ideal pair of shoes for your baby (10).
2. Do I need to buy a walker for baby’s cruising?
No. You must not use baby walkers since they could increase the risk of falls and grievous injuries. Experts believe that baby walkers do not offer any benefits to the baby (11). Baby walkers are even banned in some countries due to their potential to cause fatal injuries (12). You may instead opt for stationary activity centers that resemble walkers but have no wheels. If you intend to buy a stationary activity center, check for its weight and age limit to avoid the risk of toppling over.
Cruising is an essential milestone for babies and paves the way for walking. Each baby is different and will achieve the milestone eventually. You can encourage cruising by placing objects that offer support to the baby. While your baby practices cruising, keep their safety in mind. If you have any doubts about your baby’s cruising ability or your baby does not cruise and walk by the age of 18 months, speak to a pediatrician.
2. Important Milestones: Your Child By One Year; CDC
3. Important Milestones: Your Child By Eighteen Months; CDC
4. Karen E. Adolph, Sarah E. Berger, and Andrew J. Leo, Developmental Continuity? Crawling, Cruising, and Walking; U.S. National Library of Medicine
5. Your baby’s development: physical stages; NCT UK
6. Childproofing Your Home; American Academy of Pediatrics
7. Preparing the Environment; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
8. Debunking Old Wives’ Tales: 4 Myths About Toddlers; University of Utah
9. Footwear in children; U.S. National Library of Medicine
10. When and how to select toddler shoes; NCT UK
11. Baby Walkers: A Dangerous Choice; American Academy of Pediatrics
12. Claire McCarthy, Parents: Don’t use a baby walker; Harvard Medical School