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At around eight to ten months, your baby will likely start pulling themselves into a standing position.
While at first they’ll need something to hold onto to remain steady, most babies are able to stand on their own at about eleven months.
Soon afterwards, your baby will begin walking on their own.
Keeping in mind that it’s important not to rush the process, there are several steps you can take to help your baby learn to control their body and grow comfortable on their own feet.
You’ll also want to prepare your home for another bipedal human, albeit a miniature one.
Promoting Strength and Coordination
Spend time together on the floor.
One of the best ways to help your baby develop the ability to control their bodies and support themselves is by letting them spend time on their belly in areas where it’s safe to move around.
The more they show interest in the world around them and try to begin using their arms and legs, the closer they will become to standing.
Before your baby is able to support themselves on two legs alone, other types of movement help them prepare to do so.
For instance, crawling, rolling, scooting, and creeping are all healthy and beneficial.
Place a baby that has shown interest in moving around on their belly.
If they are able to get up onto their hands and knees or can otherwise move themselves, place a toy they enjoy touching and holding just out of their reach.
Support their trunk while helping them stand.
While playing with your baby, hold them around their chest, with one hand under each of their armpits.
This is more developmentally beneficial than holding their hands or arms.
More specifically, supporting their trunk helps them begin to learn how to use the muscles they will need to balance while standing.
Bounce and dance.
It’s the classic maneuver that many people default to when holding a happy energetic baby.
Once babies are able to control the movement of their legs and arms, they often experiment with them non stop.
Sit down and hold your baby facing you, with one hand under each of their armpits, and let their feet touch your lap.
Don’t forget to play simple, rhythmic music as well – you’ll be surprised by how well they can groove, if only up and down.
This activity is especially helpful for growing leg muscles and shifting weight from one leg to the other.
Equip them with the proper footwear.
Indoors, the best footwear is actually none at all.
This is especially true if your baby will be allowed to play in rooms that have potentially slippery surfaces, such as wood or tile floors.
Outdoors, however, you’ll want to get them into some shoes.
Shop for baby shoes in the afternoon, as feet naturally swell a bit during the day, especially once your baby is walking.
When you check for a good fit, your baby should be standing up.
Press the full width of your thumb between the tip of the shoe and the end of their toes, with enough room at the heel to squeeze your littlest finger in.
If they are able to walk on their own safely, let them do so for a few minutes.
Remove the shoes and look for evidence of irritation.
If there are any bothered spots, try a different pair.
Check the fit of your baby’s shoes every month. It will become a common theme: you’ll be surprised by how quickly your baby grows.
Facilitating Standing Activities
Designate an exploration area with helpful furniture.
As your baby is increasingly able to move around and otherwise control their body, set up a space where they can practice pulling themselves up.
They will likely try to use anything they can grab onto to help them stand.
Accordingly, make sure furniture and other items in the area do not have any dangerous edges, and are heavy enough to remain still if your baby grabs onto it to pull themselves upwards.
Never leave a baby that is learning how to stand up unattended.
Place something for them to stand and reach for.
Within a safe area in which your baby can practice pulling themselves up, provide small incentives for them to do so.
For instance, place one of their toys on the couch and show your baby where it is.
Then set them on the floor near the couch.
This may interest your baby in approaching the couch and pulling themselves up.
Make sure not to try this on furniture or items that might move if your baby uses them to pull themselves up.
Note that some babies will be able to pull themselves up and reach for things before they’re able to sit themselves back down.
In these cases, you may want to help them lower themselves back to the ground.
If your baby becomes adept at this game, place several items along the couch, to encourage them to scoot sideways while supporting themselves with their hands.
To put it bluntly, parents often need to be reassured that their baby is developing totally normally.
Normal, in fact, is different for every baby.
While it’s important to have plenty of unrestricted play time with your baby, you’re unlikely to actually speed up their physical development.
Focus on providing them safe opportunities to experiment moving around, and having fun when you spend time together.
Give positive verbal support.
Encouragement not only motivates babies, it helps them develop a positive concept of themselves as they become children.
It also helps facilitate a happy, healthy relationship between you and your baby.
Simply say things like, “good job!” or “try again” in a calm, joyful tone.
Don’t get them a walker.
The more restricted your baby is, the less opportunity they have to learn how to move and stand.
In short, babies should spend as much as time possible unrestrained.
Once it seems like your baby is able to pull themselves up, you’ll probably want to help them get walking – but don’t get them a walker.
These are not only potentially dangerous, they hinder your baby’s physical development and interest in walking outside of their walker.
While items designed to hold your baby vertically seem to prepare your child to walk, they do not.
Accordingly, stationary bouncing seats and other similar items should also be avoided.
Ensuring Safety In Your Home
Set the crib’s mattress lower.
As soon as you notice that your baby is beginning to sit up and move themselves around a bit, be sure that the crib walls are high enough to keep them contained once they’re standing.
On many cribs, this means lowering the mattress deeper into the crib’s frame, but different cribs function a bit differently.
Ideally, the walls of the crib are taller than the baby is standing up.
Some babies become surprisingly good as standing, and even climbing, faster than you’d expect.
Prepare your home for a walking baby.
The more your baby learns about scooting, crawling, standing, and moving in general, the more aware you need to be of their surroundings.
There are many important babyproofing steps you’ll need to take, including installing baby barriers, and removing almost everything from floor height in any room they will be allowed to explore
In particular, remove anything from the baby’s reach and block off any areas that may be unsafe.
Look for specific safety risks.
Some things can sneak under even a vigilant parent’s attention when babyproofing a home.
For instance, remove any tables that are about as tall as a standing baby, such as coffee tables, with any hard or otherwise dangerous edge. These alone are responsible for many baby injuries, often incurred while the baby is learning to stand.
Similarly, those throw rugs need to go, along with anything else that might trip a tiny foot.
Even in rooms where you won’t intentionally be allowing your baby to explore, take precautions to prevent your baby from accessing anything harmful, such as chemicals.
Watch out for important potential concerns.
It’s important to keep in mind that every baby’s physical development happens a bit differently, despite a common general pattern.
The time it takes to reach many developmental milestones, in particular, can vary significantly.
That said, there are a few things to watch out for.
If your baby shows no interest in moving around by the time they’re nine or ten months old, or doesn’t try to stand when supported, mention this to your doctor.
Similarly, if progress in terms of your baby’s physical development is apparent, but they tend to favor one side of their body to the other, or don’t have good control of their hands, mention these observations to your doctor.