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Health & Baby

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Your Baby's First Steps

Month 12, Week 4

When you notice your baby "cruising" around her playroom, you may be eager to encourage her walking habit. But what's the best method?

  • Grasp your baby's hand and help her walk around for longer distances. That will help her improve her balance and become confident on two feet.
  • Avoid wheeled walkers; they reduce a baby's desire to learn to walk since she can already get around the room. Walkers also greatly increase her chances of injury, even when adults are present. That's because they're unstable and fast and allow babies to grab things they normally couldn't reach. A baby in a walker may fall down a flight of stairs, knock hot coffee from a table onto herself, or ingest medication, coins, or other small items you thought were out of reach. Opt for the push toys instead.
  • Stationary activity centers let babies play safely while on their feet without moving around the room.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Your baby may be taking her first tentative steps. Or she may still be clutching the edge of the coffee table, content to "cruise" around.

If your child isn't walking but a younger baby is, don't fret; it's perfectly normal. Although some babies walk before their birthdays, many don't start for a few months. You should not become concerned unless your baby is not walking by 18 months.

Here's what she'll do along the way:

  • She'll lean on furniture to get into a standing position and may even let go and stand on her own for a few seconds.
  • She'll walk around the perimeter of a room, holding onto different pieces of furniture for support.
  • She'll take one or more steps on her own -- toward you or another relative -- before falling.
  • She'll learn to stand up without furniture for support when she falls in the middle of a room.

Month 12, Week 4 Tips

  • Look around your home from your walking child's eye level. Update childproofing to keep pace with her new movement skills.
  • Make sure that your baby never uses a wheeled walker, including at daycare or a relative's house.
  • Some sturdy, weighted push toys (including toy lawn mowers or toy shopping carts) can help your baby have fun while walking greater distances.
  • Don't confine your baby to her stroller or playpen for long. You want to give her enough time to practice walking each day.
  • Don't worry if your baby isn't walking and you notice that she stands pigeon-toed. Some babies are born this way. It usually corrects itself during the first few years and doesn't delay walking.
  • Let your baby walk alongside her stroller for part of her daily walk with you. You're modeling healthy behavior by being active every day.
  • Help your child learn how to go up and down stairs by practicing under close supervision. Then, lock safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to make stairs off-limits.

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