Dad 101: Baby's first steps
Five things dads (and mums) need to need to know about their baby's first steps.
A parent’s longing for their baby’s first steps is a bitter-sweet wish.
On one hand, you are dying for your gorgeous little kid to grow up because the sooner they are walking the sooner you can be kicking a football or playing hopscotch together. But there is something comforting about putting a baby down and knowing it will be there when you come back, because kids gain the skill of walking loooong before they gain thier common sense.
Here are five things you need to know about the early walking years.
1. It can start as early as seven months
All kids vary, but around the nine-month mark your child may move from ‘cruising’ (walking around holding onto things) to taking their first tentative steps.
Some kids start walking as early as seven months and some as late as 18 months, with 14 months being the ‘average’ time kids start getting their legs under them.
2. You will need to safeguard your house
Most people don’t want to live in a baby proofed house
shackled with childproof cupboard locks, foam-tipped table edges and gates on the stairwells, but you will need all of these when your baby starts to walk.
Toddlers walk a bit like a drunk on the deck of a ship in rough seas, so pointy edges and stairs etc. are hazards - make sure you give the house a thorough safety check before your little sailor gets into trouble.
It’s not only for your child’s safety, but also for your peace of mind so you can let your child wander around freely without having to worry… too much.
3. You can encourage them
While all kids will walk when they are good and ready, if your little one looks like they could use a hand there are a few things you can do.
- Tempt your child to walk to you by coaxing them over with their favourite toy.
- Keep them barefoot for as long as you can - when we think walking we think shoes, but toddlers are best off learning to walk on their own two (bare) feet.
- Get your child a ‘push toy’, like a cart or a plastic lawnmower, to help them steady themselves, but avoid baby ‘walkers’ – those plastic slings on wheels – can potentially cause gait problems and can tip over easily.
Generally, just be there to pick them up when they fall and hold their hand a lot to help them get their sea legs.
4. Expect stops and starts
Learning to walk can have more ups and downs than the average football season.
Your toddler may strut confidently across the room and then go back to crawling for a few weeks. They could have had a scare, decided walking is too slow, or just be resting on their laurels for a while.
5. Let them fall over
When kids start walking it looks like every step might be their last. It can go against your parental instincts to let them take a tumble, but try not to worry too much about them falling over as your child may pick up on your concern. As long as you are keeping a close eye on your new walker the odd scrape will heal and is just part of the deal.
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