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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It takes guts, stick-to-itiveness, patience and more to learn to walk

Fiona may soon give up keister scooting for walking.

Watching a baby leaving babyhood to become an active toddler is to be privy to an amazing transformation. I'm in awe of Fiona as I watch her systematically working oh-so-hard to perfect a difficult skill: walking.

Fiona has never crawled. She keister-scoots. First, she tugs off her socks, they are too slippery and she needs the friction of her bare feet on the smooth floor. Then, she stretches out her legs, gets a grip on the floor with her heels and pulls herself forward. It doesn't sound efficient but it is. She can scoot from one end of the house to the other in very short order.

In preparation for her learning to walk, I removed a large, glass coffee table from our front room. I worried that if she fell and hit her head on that table, she would get badly hurt. It was a wise thing to do but quite possibly unnecessary. Babies don't just stand up and promptly fall on their face when learning to walk. Babies aren't stupid. (Still, accidents do happen and removing anything that could injure a falling toddler is important.)

Fiona began her quest to walk by pulling herself up on anything that provided a good grip. No surprise here. But as quickly as Fiona learned to get herself up, she learned to lower herself back down. I had read that babies needed to be given support to get back down without injuring themselves. Maybe some babies need this, but not Fiona.

Pulling herself up allowed Fiona to work her legs and strengthen them. Soon the hand-grip only steadied the baby. Her legs were strong enough to raise her to a standing position without assistance from her arms.

With strong legs well practised at raising her to her feet, Fiona no longer required a hand-grip. She began using smooth, vertical surfaces to steady herself. With a wall, for instance, she could slide her hand both up and down the wall, steadying herself while standing up and again when sitting back down. Perfect.

Fiona is now standing unaided for a quarter minute or more. But she keeps her centre of balance such that she always falls forward and breaks her fall with her hands on the wall. Like I said, babies aren't stupid.

Walking is going to take strength, along with balance, and she she seems to have figured that out. Starting this week Fiona embarked on an exercise program to build the necessary strength and balance. She stands on Judy and my double bed, getting herself up without support. This is tough and she often falls. She is practising three things on the bed: getting up, standing unsupported and making a controlled fall. And doing it where she has a soft, cushy surface on which to tumble.

I bet she is walking within a week.

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