Taking Baby Steps

I always get questions from concerned parents who think their children should "already be walking". As parents we really worry about our child's physical development. It is easy to look around and compare our children to other children who are already on the move. Or compare them to their siblings. We have to remember that every child is different. They will develop and decide to move when they are ready. For the most part, we need not worry. Instead, we want to enjoy every little development and stage.
That said, here are some GENERAL GUIDELINES for mobile development. I hope they provide some piece of mind.

Birth to 3 Months
When babies are first born they don't know how to tell their muscles that they want to move around. Although they will move arms and legs, turn their heads when they are laying on their backs, and can bring their hands to their mouths, these are responses to their environment, more than they are deliberate movements and commands. For new little ones to develop more advanced motions, they have to build their core strength. This means they need TUMMY TIME. Tummy time should start as soon as you return from the hospital. Put your baby on his/her belly a few times a day. By 3 months, they should spend about 1 hour a day on their tummies. This time can be broken up into increments. Some babies don't like tummy time. Be sure your baby is awake and has been fed, and if they continue to fight, try putting them across your legs on your lap. That counts also. You will quickly see their strength grow as their raise their little heads and build their stomach muscles.

3 to 5 Months
All about the Head
At this age babies have started to realize they can move their arms and legs. The tummy time has helped them develop their core and they will most likely be holding their heads up or even trying to rest their heads on their forearms now and again. They love attention for their movements and will respond to positive reinforcement. There is increased hand eye coordination and you will probably catch them trying to "swing" at objects that hang above them. During these months, lots of babies will also start to roll. Front to back is always the easiest, and most likely what you will see first. Followed by back to front. You don't want to leave little ones unsupervised because you never know when they will start to roll. You don't want them to fall off the bed or the couch.

5 To 8 Months
Time to Sit Up
About this time, babies are starting to sit up on their own. Especially if you put them in a high chair. When you put them on the floor without back support, they will usually lean forward and use their hands to keep their balance. Between 7 and 8 months, most babies sit unassisted.

These months might also bring the Army Crawl. Using their forearms to drag themselves across the floor. Don't be alarmed to see your little one find their own way of moving. There is no right or wrong way of doing things. Forward, backwards, one armed, it doesn't matter. Give positive reinforcement and praise. The positive things we say will inspire our children to keep learning to move. Be sure you keep small objects out of your babies way, and that electrical outlets etc, are safe from little fingers.

8 To 12 Months
Up On Their Feet
Around 9 months, most children are crawling on their hands an knees. Have you ever heard that a baby should crawl before they walk, or something is wrong with them? Not true. Crawling helps babies become stronger so they can eventually walk, but there are lots of ways for them to become strong. Pulling themselves up to a standing position, standing and walking while holding someones hand, and balancing on their own once they have pulled up. All these things build strength. This age is a great time to invest in a good pull toy. It will help your child's balance and control as they begin to walk on their own. It is also a good time to get down to your child's level and see what they see. Are there any sharp corners that their heads will run into while they are walking?

12 To 15 Months
Always Moving
By this point, most little ones are walking, and trying to climb up onto things. It is a good time to teach them what they should climb on and what they shouldn't. Setting these guidelines early will help make the next few years a lot easier for everyone. It is also a good time to teach kids to hold hands. As silly as this may sound, if you want your child to hold your hand when you cross streets, or go places, teach them young. It will help you avoid the hand holding fights later on. Play lots of new games and activities that let your kids move and groove.

We don't want to compare, or put excess pressure on our children when it comes to mobility. They will get moving, in their own time.



  1. Asher walked at 11 months, and has always been a mover. Abbie sat up really early at about 3 1/2 months, but didn't crawl until 9 1/2 months... didn't walk until almost 14 months. Boy has she made up for that. Because my kids have always communicated so well, I haven't worried when other areas are average or below average. It all squares away in the end.

  2. That picture is precious! :) Manuel was "typical" with all of his physical milestones and advanced in his verbal milestones. Although I TRIED not to compare children, when I had Mia, of course it just happened and when she was doing what her brother did by ___ months I would get concerned. She wasn't rolling over by the time I thought she should so I addressed with her Ped. Her Ped wasn't overly concerned but suggested if I was to contact our counties Infants and Toddlers program for an assesment. Long story short they came out, assessed her, labeled her developement "atypical" and started her on physical therapy. She was "behind" in rolling over, crawling, pulling to stand and walking, but I feel like she has completley caught up, and am SO thankful for the early intervention! :)And she climbs on EVERYTHING (much to my chagrin! ;)) Great idea about getting them to hold our hands at early age. I never thought about what an important "skill" that really is!

  3. JDaniel didn't start walking until he was fifteen months old. He was running at sixteen months old.

  4. My favorite stage is when they can sit up and play and stay put because they can't move :) lol.
    All my kids were over 13 months before they walked, and my son was almost 17 months, but I wasn't worried as long as he was walking by nursery.

  5. Okay, so I sound like a total broken record, but I love your posts!!!! love, love, love them! :D

    I'm a 4th year medical student, volunteering with a pediatrician, and applying to (medical) residency programs in Pediatrics, so for me, it is SO difficult to choose any one stage I love the most. For me, there's always something astonishing and awe-inspiring about each stage of a baby's growth. What astonishes me most, is how they are all SO unique, although helpless little wee babies - they each have a unique personality, even as early as 2-3 months! :D

  6. Oh, I remember those days. My son (the teacher's son) walked by 11 months, but didn't have many words and my closest friend (the pediatric physical therapist) had a little boy who talked up a storm, but didn't walk until almost 15 months. We were both flipping out until one day her husband pointed out that if it were the reverse and my guy was talking and hers walking, neither one of us would have been worried! Oh the irony!

  7. Well done! It's good to provide information for new moms. My only thought is that you should check out Magda Gerber and her "Natural movement" information - she argues that very young babies DON'T need tummy time - they're best on their back until they learn how to flip themselves. To do that, they need lots of time on a clean, flat floor to kick and punch around! :)

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