It’s been 10 months and we officially have a walker on our hands! This process, though it seems to have happened overnight, took MONTHS of development. Today, I’m sharing how I helped my baby walk at 10 months.
Prefacing this post by asking you to not compare your baby’s development to my baby’s development. They are individuals who develop at different rates and that is to be respected.
Furthermore, I haven’t seen an adult just crawling around because they never learned how to walk, so understand the baby will learn how to sit up, crawl and walk on their own time.
If you have concerns about your baby’s development, consult your pediatrician.
The goal for us is to make sure this house is her home just as much as it’s our home and for her to develop organically rather than forcing her to move in that direction before she is ready.
No Special Tools Needed
You don’t need fancy tools, mats, or toys for development.
At first, all we used was a blanket on the floor. I was concerned with the hardness of the floor since we had hardwood, so I doubled up a sheet and a comforter just for extra cushion.
When she was older and reaching, I bought a play mat from IKEA for about $25 (here). It lacked all those bright colors and extra doodads that overstimulate kids. It was very minimal, but I knew it would encourage reaching, scooting, and sensory discovery and that’s all she needed then. We still use it to this day, but mainly for her home base of sitting during her independent play.
This leads me to our baby purchases: we refrained from is buying baby gear. This includes seats, bouncers, walkers, even a high chair and a crib. We did purchase a pack and play that we used for a bassinet/changing table for maybe all of 3 weeks – what a waste. Also in our possession was a rocker that I used mainly to hold her while I showered. Other than that, no baby gear necessary.
We baby proofed the entire house so she can wander, roam and discover all while being safe. The floor is clear and lacks obstructions such as a coffee table. Now, I’m not saying don’t have a coffee table (we have a low style dining table that we push against the wall for extra space), but offer a clear area for the baby to explore and do their work.
Lastly, I kept her barefoot at all times. Yes, the above picture shows her in shoes but that’s for aesthetics. She did and still does everything barefoot. No shoes and especially no socks are worn by her while in this house (learn more here, here, and here).
Starting from the day I brought her home, Scout was already lifting her head and looking around. Since I knew she had the ability to lift her head, I started tummy time immediately.
Tummy time is probably the most important activity your baby will do besides eating and sleeping. It helps babies develop gross motor skills by building up their necks and shoulder muscles. It also helps with their head shape development (no flat heads and less balding).
Each day (or every other day depending on life), hubby and I would place her on her tummy for as long as she could withstand, starting with about 2 minutes and increasing it to 10 minutes for about the first six weeks of her life. She was rolling over from belly to back by 2 months of age. By the time she was 3 months, we could shoot for 15 minutes or longer of tummy time multiple times during the day.
Tummy time was monitored by us (we never left her alone) and we engaged with her making sure to get on her level during that time. We would talk to her, sing to her, and encourage her to lift her head and body off the floor. Toys weren’t necessary during this time. She really just needed for us to be there.
Did she cry? Well, sometimes she would. When she did, we would roll her over to her back. Later, we would revisit the tummy position and let her stay for as long as she was ok. Listening to her cues was key to her development.
Scooting and Crawling Skills
By 4.5 months, she was scooting backwards. She was very determined to move, so I placed her on the floor all the time, mainly on her belly so that she was working on that core during tummy time. By now, she was able to roll from both back to belly and belly to back so I would place her on her belly and see where she went from there.
To assist in her work out, I would place toys slightly out of reach so that she could reach for them. Her play mat had objects located in each corner so she would roll or scoot toward them as much as she possibly could.
By now, we were using the yoga ball pretty regularly to bounce her up and on down in the standing position since she always wanted to stand up. Please note: we didn’t introduce this until she showed interest in standing on our laps for extended periods of time.
Another approach we took with the yoga ball was placing her on her belly, holding her back and rolling the ball ever so gently. This helped with motion awareness which I believe helped aid her in forward crawling.
Baby Play Dates
By the time she was 5.5 months, we signed her up for play and learn classes at Gymboree. There, she was able to socialize with other babies, learn from them by watching them move, and independently work on her skills using the equipment.
She was already sitting up and forward crawling at this time, seemingly skipping over crawling on all fours directly to doing a bear crawl. Bear crawls require the baby to lift their entire torso off the ground and they are using only their hands and feet to move as oppose to their knees. I honestly think she developed this from watching the dogs move. She was on their level and wanted to keep up with them (she also sticks out her tongue and breathes like them so there’s that).
I just want to note we never stopped tummy time – like ever. We still encouraged it and she liked it, too.
At this time we introduced the foam steps. We taught her how to properly climb up and down stairs (feet first) and put them beside the couch and bed so that she could meet us on top. She would also practice this skill at the gym as they have tons of wedges and stairs to crawl up and down.
Before long, she was cruising – a termed use for pulling up on objects and walking along side the object. At home, we placed objects out of her reach so that she would pull up on anchored furniture and reach for them. This encouraged standing and helped build her leg muscles. I let her pull up on and walk along side everything, but I also made sure everything she could potentially pull up on was anchored so it wouldn’t tip over on her.
At 8 months, she was placed out of the baby class (it goes to 10 months) and into the next class with the walking infants (mostly aged 12 months – 15 months). The teachers saw she needed more of a challenge and I knew it, too. Naturally, she was not walking at this time. She was, however, able to stand alone for a few seconds at a time which soon increased to minutes at a time.
At 9 months, she was going into standing position from squatting position on her own. By this time, we introduced the push toy. I placed heavy books inside to create weight so she would learn how to use her legs to walk forward.
I truly believe she started standing more and more because she was exposed to other babies doing the same. This is why I highly encourage socializing babies. Their energies definitely feed off one another. They learn how to pick up skills quickly simply by observing other babies.
Walking without Handles
We knew it wouldn’t be long before she would be ready to walk per all of the parents in the class.
And they were right.
Approximately one week after she started standing on her own, Scout took her first steps! After that, she would take a few steps before dropping to the floor and crawling the rest of the way. It was cool to watch her figure out balance and coordination.
I did not pull her by the hands while walking. When she couldn’t figure out the feet, I would hold her trunk (her hips). This helps her understand weight distribution between the two legs. I did not do this until she actually showed us that she could stand alone – important for not rushing development.
With time and practice, she walks more and more independently these days. She isn’t running around the house, rather she is slowly finding her way around on her on terms. Having a baby walk at 10 months is an exercise course waiting to happen, but I am ok with it!
Don’t Rush the Process
The key is to not rush the process. Let your baby be a baby and allow them to lead the way in their development. And yeah, I let her do her thing, but I was also there with the assist. It was all about helping her along the way rather than forcing her.
The best way I help her is by being there for her when she needs me. I show support by giving her space to thrive, presenting her with opportunities, and respecting her as an individual.
If you are looking for how to help your little one walk, read and use safe methods. I used occupational therapy sites such as MamaOT and Dinosaur Physical Therapy. My next step is to buy her shoes that are great for walking in areas other than our home, so I’ll report back when I find the perfect pair.
Cheers to watching your little one grow and go!