Most new parents are familiar with the typical developmental milestones, such as rolling over and walking, but there’s another, sometimes overlooked milestone that occurs between crawling and walking: cruising.
Cruising is the term for the intermediate stage between crawling and walking upright. During the cruising stage, a child pulls up using whatever is available at the moment—a chair, a door frame, and especially their mother or father’s leg—and begins moving around slowly on their own two feet.
Cruising typically begins between 8-12 months. Cruising and crawling often overlap: some children alternate between between them for an extended period, while others rapidly progress from cruising to walking.
To walk unaided, babies need to maintain their body weight and keep their balance on one leg while swinging their other leg forward to take a step. What babies are actually doing at the cruising stage is practicing walking while using various supports to make up for the leg strength and body control they don’t yet possess to walk on their own. At the same time, they are learning problem-solving skills (how far they can reach to grab the next chair, for example).
For parents, it’s a fun time because you first have the experience of holding your child’s hand and taking a few steps together. Cruising children also may strike out on their own, toddling sideways along the length of the sofa, for example, or moving from handhold to handhold across the living room with the aid of various pieces of furniture and caregivers.
Research has shown, however, that cruising doesn’t teach babies how to navigate on uneven surfaces or challenging floors. As a result, falls are bound to happen. For parents, this means child-proofing the home environment by providing as many soft, carpeted cruising spaces as possible, as well as removing other potential hazards like tablecloths and wobbly furniture for the duration.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018
- Cruising is the stage between crawling and walking where babies pull themselves upright and take their first steps with the aid of walls, furniture or caregivers.
- Cruising typically begins at 8-12 months and may overlap with crawling.
- Cruising allows babies to practice walking skills and develop leg strength and balance.
- Cruising babies can fall easily on uneven ground, so parents need to provide a safe environment for cruising.