From scooting to crawling to cruising, babies learn how to get around during these months. So now is the time to childproof your home, if you haven't already. Remember to put gates at staircases and block off rooms that aren’t safe for your baby to explore.
How Is My Baby Moving?
By now your baby is sitting and using their hands every so often for support. Once comfortable in this position, your baby will start to turn and reach for objects without falling over. Your baby will also get better at changing positions, and soon figure out how to get into a sitting position, then pull up to stand.
When on the stomach, your baby will learn to push up onto the hands and knees and rock back and forth. This little "exercise" is working the arm and leg muscles, getting your child ready to move forward (or backward) to get around.
Some babies are better at crawling than others so don't worry if your child has developed some novel ways of getting around. This can include rolling, scooting on the bottom, or creeping.
Your baby's leg muscles have gotten stronger from standing, bouncing, and crawling. Now is the time for your baby to start "cruising" — taking steps while holding on to the couch, coffee table, or other pieces of furniture for balance.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills and hand–eye coordination also continue to improve during this time. Babies develop the ability to pick up small items. This coordination can range from a raking grasp with all fingers to a finger-to-thumb pincer grasp.
How Can I Encourage My Baby?
Give your baby safe areas to practice moving and lots of opportunities to move. Limit the time your baby spends in strollers, cribs, and other equipment that restricts movement.
To get your baby moving, put a favorite toy out of reach and ask them to try and get it. Encourage walking by letting your baby cruise along the furniture (remove or pad furniture with sharp edges) or hold your baby's hands while practicing.
A walking toy with a bar that extends to chest height on a baby and is attached to a stable, weighted base with wheels also can help your baby practice. Babies hold the bar for support and push the toy for movement. You'll need to supervise this, of course, and make sure stairs are blocked off.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Normal child development tends to follow a certain pattern. The skills that babies develop early serve as building blocks for future skills. Still, the time it takes to develop these skills can vary widely among babies.
Let your doctor know if your baby doesn't do the following:
By 9 months:
- get into a sitting position alone
- sit without support
- pass things from one hand to the other
By 12 months:
- pull up to stand
- walk while holding on to furniture
- pick up things between their thumb and pointer finger (pincer grasp)
Not reaching individual milestones doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem. But talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your baby's development.