From nine to eleven months, babies are in basic training for walking. They’re taking it one step at a time to gain the physical control and balance required to walk. They do it by building the muscles and motor skills that prepare them for those exciting first steps. Don’t stress if your baby does this a little later, as baby will develop in their own time.
Right around when babies can sit without wobbling and manoeuvre on all fours, they soon discover the stairs. You may find your child wants to spend hours on them. Crawling up is no sweat. The trouble is in crawling down. With a little help from their personal trainer (you!), they’ll eventually get the hang of it. But remember; even after they’ve graduated to “stair master” don’t leave your baby alone on or near the stairs. When you can’t be there to supervise, always put a safety gate in place!
Soon your baby will be pulling themselves up on crib bars, chair legs or anything else that can bring them to a standing position. Once up, they may want to stand all the time even when they’re being dressed or changed. They’ll learn to find ways of moving themselves along one small step for baby, one giant leap to becoming a full-fledged walker.
Many babies are eager to walk, even though they can’t keep their balance on their own. You might see your baby taking sideways steps while holding onto the crib rail or table edge. Many babies also love to practice steps while holding onto your two index fingers. The father of one such enthusiastic “walker” joked, “I’m afraid I’ll get stuck in a permanently bent-over position!”
It’s not only the so-called “motor movements” like walking that are progressing at this stage. In the next few months, you’ll see your baby’s motor skills, like eye-hand coordination, improving tremendously. Your baby will soon be picking up small pieces of food like cereal with their thumb and forefinger, instead of using the “mitten grip” of earlier months. Babies enjoy putting objects into containers such as empty coffee cans and then dumping them out. Turn these activities into fun games for your baby to encourage these new skills.