But learning to crawl doesn't just help baby move from one room to the next -- or merely provide him with the ability to dig his hands into the cat's litter box. Crawling helps your child navigate your house, judge distances, and flex her memory skills so she can get back to where she came from, all of which prepares her for life in the big-kid lane.
Straighten Up and Sit Right
Sitting up often happens a little later than rolling -- between 6 and 8 months. Though baby uses the same muscles and strengthening exercises to achieve both of these goals, it will take him some time to figure out how to place his legs and balance his upper body. Before he can actually sit, though, your little acrobat will try lots of interesting ways to jockey himself into position. Most likely, he'll lift his chest and try to push up with his arms. Give him lots of practice by placing him in a sitting position and allowing him to wave his arms around to achieve balance. It's also helpful to prop him up on arranged pillows so he can see the world from a new vantage point and feel what it's like to be upright.
Learning to stand is a segue from crawling to walking, so you'll be seeing lots of little fingerprints on tables as your child learns to pull himself up. You may hear lots of crying, too; that's because once he stands up, he may not be able to get back down. Show him how to bend his knees and lower himself to the floor.
Walk This Way
Between 12 and 18 months, your baby will officially become a toddler, moving from place to place on her own two feet as fast as she can. Walking usually starts as cruising -- taking steps while holding on to a piece of furniture. When she's mastered placing one foot in front of the other while maintaining her balance, she'll start to take a few small steps on her own -- with lots of falls along the way. Luckily, when your child does fall, she probably won't hurt herself, so it's best not to make a fuss that could distract her or make her think she's really hurt.
Expect baby's first steps to be sort of awkward and ungraceful. Instead of quick, purposeful strides, her gait will look more like a wide-legged lurch. It'll take a month or two before she's moving along smoothly. By the time she nears 2, she'll probably be able to outrun you.
Walking doesn't just change how your child gets from place to place; it changes her whole outlook. Some children find the ability to toddle away from Mom and Dad as scary as it is exhilarating, so a new walker may be clingier than usual. Some kids may get frustrated and cry more often because they can't move around as quickly as their older siblings.
And don't worry if your little chatterbox suddenly falls silent when she learns how to walk; she's concentrating so hard on perfecting this big new skill, she might abandon others for a short time.
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