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Many parents eagerly look forward to seeing their baby crawl across the floor — only to realize somewhere around this time that actual crawling might never happen. The truth is, not every baby crawls before learning to walk. Some are content to wiggle across the floor for a few months, and then skip straight to pulling themselves up on the furniture and “cruising” around the room in preparation for actual walking.

While there’s nothing wrong about skipping crawling, we do know that crawling has benefits for babies. Crawling is hard work. It helps develop strength in your baby’s hands, arms, stomach, shoulders, and neck. Your baby also has to use his eyes to focus on what’s ahead as well as items up close, such as his hands. This helps your baby develop depth perception.

There are sure to (literally) be some bumps along the way as your baby navigates your home. Babies are all about “me” and don’t always realize that a piece of furniture won’t move out of the way. However, you will notice that your baby will eventually start to memorize where objects are in your home and will crawl around them to get where he or she is going.

Time to walk!

Most babies won’t usually start walking until between 11 and 14 months. However, some babies can start walking as early as nine months. If you’re wondering if your baby may be one of them, here are some signs that walking is near.

  • Your baby crawls in a coordinated fashion with his or arms and legs. Some babies crawl backward or seem to scoot while on their bellies. If your baby starts to crawl forward in a more coordinated manner, this is a sign that he or she is building up enough strength to potentially start walking.
  • Your baby is pulling up. Pulling up to a standing position is an important milestone. It means that your baby is able to go from sitting to standing. Cruising is usually next, and your baby will gain walking confidence by going further while holding onto a stationary object or standing up for longer.
  • Your baby stands without support. When your baby starts to gain enough balance to stand freely, walking isn’t usually far behind.

While most babies will get the hang of walking on their own (after several plops, stumbles, and mishaps), you can help your baby develop the confidence to walk by helping him or her practice. You can try holding hands while he or she walks or gently holding your baby’s shoulders during early wobbly steps. Encouraging your baby while he or she cruises around the house can also help your baby start to take more and more steps.

Putting on baby shoes

While tiny baby shoes are very cute, they should be avoided while your 9-month-old is learning to walk. This is because walking barefoot helps your child to achieve better balance and coordination. Shoes aren’t as flexible as a baby’s own feet and can make walking difficult.

Shoes are more for baby’s protection from the elements than a necessity for walking. Therefore, you’ll want to use shoes mainly when your little one is going outside in cool temperatures.

When you do purchase your child’s first walking pair of shoes, look for soles that are highly flexible so he or she will be able to move more easily. While it’s tempting to purchase shoes that have some room to grow, it’s best they aren’t too loose (or tight either) because your baby could trip more easily. Non-skid soles are also important for preventing injury and helping your baby explore the world.

See your baby’s upcoming first steps from your doctor’s perspective with Bundoo Pediatrician, Dr. Justin Morgan.

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