Babies who are not walked (and some that are) will typically discover most of the following movements. It’s both a progression–not necessarily in this exact order–and overlapping waves.
- Starting with crawling on hands and knees…
- “Pulling up” by pulling with both arms
- “Pulling up” by pushing with both legs
- “Pulling up” by stepping on one foot
- Cruising with two hands (side-stepping while holding on)
- Opening outward with one hand/foot out while holding on with one hand
- Squatting while holding on
- Letting go to stand hands-free
- Standing from squatting, and squatting from standing, hands-free
- Toddling (like a penguin), sometimes while holding something in both hands
- Walking cross-laterally (forward-stepping)
That’s a lot happening between crawling and walking that is not often talked about! All of these in-between movements prepare the lower back, hip joints, ankles, foot arches, and core support for being upright on two feet. They also support necessary brain connections and the ability to integrate the new sensory information and stimulation they’ll be taking in.
This is part of why babies will walk best if they are not “walked” by bigger people. Their bodies are attempting to put all of these important pieces into place, so walking them can interfere with this process and cause compensations that make the natural developing reflexes/movements more difficult or even inaccessible.
If you are concerned about developmental delays, professional support may be needed. Please follow your gut feelings if you have a concern and speak with someone who is familiar with the details of first-year development.
© Elizabeth Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)
Much of my work comes from Infant Developmental Movement Education®, part of the Body-Mind Centering® Approach to Somatic Education, and Dr. Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting. I am a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.
I’m curious. I loved your post on crawling and continued to read to the next milestones. My baby started crawling at 8 months. walking at 10 and is a very good walker at 11 1/2 months, almost running at times. She will barely ever crawl anymore. But for that first month she started walking she would pull up on something like the couch, take a few steps and plop down on her bum. So anytime we were near or she was sitting in our laps, she would grab our hands in hers and pull herself up and basically walk us, like if she was steering us and she was very insistent on where to go and that she wanted to walk. If we took our hands away or tried sitting her she would just fuss and cry and try finding our hands to walk again. She still does this when we are outside and the ground is very uneven or rocky. Should we discourage this? Should we have not walked her at all?
Hi Justine, thanks for your inquiry! I recommend being a “human jungle gym” and let her maneuver around you while holding on rather than “walking her.” Staying in one place allows her to sense and manage her own body weight 100% while hanging on, whereas when walking with babies, then tend to hang or lean but it’s on a moving target, so it can make them somewhat dependent in terms of managing their own body weight and sensing what they’re able to do and not do on their own.
Hi, this is a very well written and informative article. You are right that baby milestones are often carved up into the major highlights. The only positive to this is that parents aren’t measuring their child against every developmental milestone possible as can be the case sometimes. It’s always important to acknowledge that baby milestones are the average age a baby can do something- such as walking or ceawking and that some milestones may be skipped or reached in a different order to the “norm”. Many babies enjoy being walked around by their parents so is a very interesting point you raised about doing this. We look forward to more developmental blog posts from you. 🙂
Hi, thanks for your comment. Indeed, babies will seem to enjoy being propped or walked. Being upright is stimulating to the senses. The senses and perception develop in tandem with movement; so being propped or walked takes their bodies up higher than their brains and body are ready to support physically. It’s overstimulating–much like flashing festival lights for us–our first impression may be “wow, fun!” and our face lights up. Then over time it can become too much. Also, walking them makes them dependent on us, rather than allowing them the pleasure, empowerment, and laying of learning habits of finding it on their own when they are ready. Thanks for your interest 🙂
I did share this on Facebook and love what you say! When I read your credentials – no wonder you’re a Feldenkrais practitioner and it shows! Beautifully written piece, I will look for more!
Thanks, Josie! The info in this article is all from Infant Developmental Movement Education, which is part of the Body-Mind Centering approach. But the way I think and explain things tends to be very Feldenkrais!
Thanks for sharing!