My baby’s journey to becoming mobile started very recently, and from the age of 6 months, he developed a great interest in moving – sitting, crawling, standing and even walking. This is generally the stage in babies’ developments where they start to become more active and mobile, so I had to re-think my strategy for day-to-day interactions and find more stimulating things do with James, in the hope that I could help him do all these new things he suddenly realised he could do.
James is now 7 months old, and in the space of a few weeks, he has learnt to sit up unsupported, hold himself up whilst standing and even started to commando crawl. I think us parents are instrumental in helping our children develop and reach their big milestones, and we should never take for granted the little things we do, because they have a huge impact in their future.
Here are my tips from my own experience, showing what you can do to help and encourage your baby to crawl, sit up and, eventually walk.
Get down on the floor with your baby
It sounds like a given, but really make it a point to spend as much time as possible on the floor with your baby when they are awake. This will give your baby the confidence to explore and not feel intimidated by a big open space. It’s also the safest place for your mobile baby to be, as high surfaces like sofas and beds become a bit dangerous once they start to roll around. I’ve made a cosy and fun little area for us in my living room, with blankets, toys and play mats. You don’t have to have a huge living room – I certainly don’t – but you might have to compromise on a few pieces of furniture. In our case, our coffee table had to be pushed to the side to make room for James’ things, as I wanted him to have a big enough area to safely roll around and explore.
Tummy-time is essential
There’s evidence to suggest that babies who spend a lot of time on their tummies, are likely to crawl earlier. Start with a couple of minutes at a time and gradually increase the amount of time your baby spend on his or her tummy, until it gets to a point where they are spending more time on their front than on their back. As a mother of a baby who absolutely hated tummy time until very recently, it’s not easy to make your baby do something when they are clearly not happy and not enjoying themselves, but keep trying. Even if your baby doesn’t really like it at first, they will get used to it, I promise. They might even prefer being on their tummies when they can confidently hold themselves up – James will often rolls onto his tummy when I put him on his back. I’m not saying to keep them on their tummies at all costs – definitely not. If you can see your baby is clearly upset, then leave it and try again another time, but I have seen a huge improvement on James’ development since I started persevering with tummy time, and now he quite likes it.
Make them want to move
Give them something interesting enough to reach out to and get those arms and legs going! I find that musical toys will get James moving, but more than anything he loves to go after anything he can’t have – my phone, the remote and the camera are some of his favourites. Be creative, get down to their level, use yourself as a prop, but make sure to give them a reason to move, after all, it needs to be worth their effort, and it really is hard work for them to learn to move.
Help where they seem to struggle, but give them a chance to try by themselves
They need to learn to figure things out by themselves and to get used to using their brains to work things out. Of course, they will still need your help massively, but try to give them a chance to do something on their own, and only if they complain, help them. James seems to have got the hang of using his arms to move forward, but he is still flapping about his legs, hoping something will happen and he’ll suddenly move. So I help him by letting him use my hands to push with his feet and slide forward. Other babies may struggle to use their arms or to hold their weight, so tailor your help to where your baby needs it.
I’m guilty of trying to help James before he is even struggling, but I think that hinders more than helps his development. Of course I’m coming from a place of love and care – I don’t want my baby to struggle, so I’m right there on hand to help him at the slightest sign of effort. However, I am training myself to let him get on with what he wants to do (whilst I watch with hawk eyes, of course) and only when he complains or clearly needs help, I give him a hand. Instead of doing everything for him, I try to show him how to do it, and encourage him to try it for himself.
Activity centres are great stimulation in moderation
This was a turning point in James’ sudden interest in getting moving – it makes your baby feel more independent from you, it gets their legs going and they come with an added bonus of allowing you to get on with some housework for five minutes! There are lots of brands out there, but we borrowed a Jumperoo from my sister-in-law, and I cannot tell you how much James loves it and jumps like crazy! Some people are wary of recommending activity centres, but I say as long as you use your common sense and don’t leave your child in there for long periods of time, it should only help them strengthen their core and legs. I let James have a kick about for about five minutes at a time at the most, otherwise he gets overtired and bit grizzly, but it makes him more keen to move his legs to go and get what he wants when I put him on his tummy after using the Jumperoo.
Give them praise for their efforts
You might think that they don’t understand what you’re saying, but a little praise goes a long way. James always responds positively to my words of encouragement and it seems to make him happy whenever I give him praise for his efforts as I get huge smiles from him. Something so small as ‘Well done, you!’, ‘Good boy!’ and ‘You can do it!’ can make you baby feel like they are doing well and that you’re there to help them. I always give him a little kiss or stroke his hair as well, as a parent’s touch gives the baby an added sense of comfort and security.
These are my tips for helping your baby to get moving, based on my own personal experience and some research I did in order to give James as much stimulation as possible in this stage of his development. I try to think about my actions, even the little things, with his future in mind, encouraging him to be an independent and confident little boy, reinforcing the fact that he is capable of doing anything and that he can always rely com his mummy and daddy to help him anytime. In a few months, when we’ve moved on to the walking phase, I will maintain the same principles and ideas I highlighted here, just with a few tweaks here and there to suit a new skill.
If you would like to know more about James’ current development, I talk about everything that he’s learnt over the last month on his 7 Month Baby Update video, which you can watch by clicking the play button below or by clicking here.
I hope these tips can help your baby crawl, sit up and walk if they’re are going through the same phase as James. If you have any tips of your own, I would love to hear them, so please leave them on the comments below.
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