Seeing your baby reach an important milestone can be cause for a lot of excitement and happiness. Especially when it’s something as monumental as watching your little one take their first steps. But this isn’t something that suddenly happens on a Sunday afternoon. There are several different stages that they will go through before they can start to walk and waddle. And no, these may not necessarily involve crawling, scooting or cruising. Parents are often very concerned about the development of their baby and think there’s something wrong when they skip a stage or two. But there’s no need to panic if your child isn’t showing any obvious signs of attempting to walk. Chances are that you just can’t identify which of the 4 stages your little one is in, on their way to becoming an active toddler. So, would you like to know what they are? Then keep on reading!
1. Stage 1: Before They Are Mobile
Your newborn will spend their first few weeks of life stretching out their arms and legs and somewhat unfolding from the fetal position that they were in for the last 9 months in the womb. Babies also have no control of their movements for the first few months, so their limbs are going to go all over the place. But within the first two months your baby will start to wiggle about and kick their legs up (1). And by the fourth month they might even lift up their hips all by themselves. Your baby will slowly start to test what they can do with their legs and this is a good sign. There’s no need to get worried if your little one’s legs are a little bowed. Eventually, their legs will straighten out in the upcoming months. You also don’t need to hesitate to prop them up onto their feet while holding them after the fourth month. The stressors of standing can actually help your baby’s bones to straighten out (2).
2. Stage 2: Getting Ready To Crawl
Not all kids crawl, but most do. This is an important stepping stone to walking. But again, remember that every child is different. If yours skips this step, it’s not the end of the world. However, a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. Usually babies start to get on their hands and knees and rock back and forth sometime around the 7 to 10 month mark (3). This slight movement may not seem like a big deal to you, but it indicates that your little one is getting ready to crawl.
But other kids may also find other methods of moving about, like scooting on their bottoms. The question of whether your baby will crawl or not depends on the temperament of your little one. Some babies are more active than others and more driven to start moving as soon as possible. Whereas others are more laid back and content to sit around. And this is nothing to get worked up about. As long as your baby is meeting all their other developmental milestones like cruising on furniture, pulling up to stand or using their hands to grab, they are perfectly fine.
3. Stage 3: Cruise Control
Once your baby is motivated to explore their surroundings and start moving about, they will most likely take their first steps around their 11th or 12th month while holding onto furniture for support (4). This is known as cruising. During this period you may also notice that their feet are flat, and this can be due to the fact that the natural arch hasn’t fully formed yet. This is because it’s partially hidden by a soft pad which will disappear around when your little one reaches the age of 2 or 3 years old. Your little one’s legs can also slightly turn in which is probably a result of your baby’s position in the womb. However, the legs usually straighten out by 18 months. If your baby’s in-toeing is rigid or their legs are interfering in their ability to walk, then it’s time to visit an orthopedist.
4. Stage 4: Walking
Finally, your baby will start to walk. But this first requires them gaining the ability to balance, coordinate their legs and eyesight and have confidence. And this is why children reach this big milestone at different ages. Your little one may start cruising at 8 months but take a few more months to start walking. Or they could start walking by the time they reach the 10th month and skip cruising altogether. It’s important to keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace. So, encourage your baby and stay positive! They’ll be walking around in no time.
Watching your baby start to walk towards you for the first time is the most magical moment a parent has. But, it doesn’t happen overnight. Your little one has to go through a couple of stages to get to that moment. So, give them the patience, love and support that they need!