When Kaia was around 10 months old, she started pulling herself up to stand, whether it was on us or along furniture. She started cruising along furniture around the same time, and she was doing it quite quickly as she approached the one-year mark. Given she had no problems sitting up independently, getting into and out of a seated position, and cruising, the doctor said that she’d likely be walking within a month of her appointment in early January.
Well, that didn’t actually happen. Kaia continued cruising and pulling herself up, but she still showed zero interest in actually walking independently. She started using her pusher/walker more around the end of February and got really good with it in March, but still, every time we tried to encourage her to walk, she’d stand for up to a minute on her own and then immediately get down and crawl. She did the same thing when we would walk alongside her, holding her hands and guiding her. She either seemed scared or like she just had zero desire to walk.
So after the doctor suggested early intervention given she wasn’t yet walking independently by 16 months, I started reading more about how to encourage your baby to walk. I found a video that Emma Hubbard posted on YouTube about how to do this; she’s a pediatric occupational therapist from Australia, and I’d previously watched a number of her videos last year when tracking Kaia’s development. She suggested that we not keep Kaia’s arms up when walking with her, but instead, to either have them at her own arm/shoulder level or lower so that she could balance herself properly. In addition, she also suggested leveling baby at her waist, ensuring she’s square on her feet and her hips are firmly in position, then coaxing baby to come forward without holding your hands.
I spent over an hour doing this exactly activity this afternoon. Initially, Kaia resisted. She yelled and refused. She insisted on getting on her hands and knees and crawling. But after encouraging her in both English and Chinese, motioning her to come forward, and insisting she stand, she finally started standing and walking forward. She kept her arms out ahead of her or at her sides to keep her balance, and she would walk forward. At first, it was just four steps. But then four steps became eight, which became 16, which became too many to count at once. She grew faster and faster, and she started enjoying it and giggling nonstop. She then insisted that she continue walking and would even walk independently while clapping at her own efforts. It was the sweetest, most enjoyable afternoon to finally watch my baby reach this milestone.
Kaia still needs practice, of course, and needs to straighten one of her feet, but we can happily thank Emma Hubbard for her tips on how to encourage little bub to walk on her own. I am a very proud mama today. And it’s the last weekday before her first day at daycare/school!