Gini learnt to crawl fairly early. Maybe it was all the tummy-time daddy made her do, maybe it was the fact that she slept upright on mummy’s chest (that counts as tummy-time too, I am told), maybe it was the combination of the two but by the time baby was due for her 6 month visit to the doctor’s, Gini had learnt to get up on all fours and rock back and forth.
A few days after the visit, she took her first stride forward. The days in between were frustrating for her and heartbreaking for me to watch. She screamed her little lungs out and looked at me, her big black eyes pleading me to help her. I was tempted to just pick her up, nuzzle her neck, shower her milky-soft cheeks with kisses but I held back. I comforted her only with soft words knowing that if I let my heart win this battle with my head, it would only serve to lengthen this in-between time. Of course, I did pick her up when she looked as if she was headed for a meltdown but not otherwise.
Once she learnt to crawl, it took her almost no time to learn to pull herself up to standing position in her crib. At 9 months old, she is now practicing her first baby steps. So what helped her reach these milestones? I discuss what I see as the fundamental reasons that can help with baby’s big milestones:
You have heard about this one. The baby books tell you, the health care people tell you, the Internet tells you and now I am doing that too. Sure, when baby is too new and fragile looking, one may balk at the prospect of turning her over on her tummy. I know I did. But having my dad reassure me helped. Mummies, get over that little fear because nothing strengthens baby’s core and prepares her for her big milestones quite like tummy-time does. Just make sure she is on a safe surface and get down to her level so she can see you. PS – don’t take your eyes off her, please, and pick her up if she starts to cry. She only needs a few minutes every day.
I am never motivated to move out of where I am sloth-ing unless I see a bar of chocolate, a packet of crisps, cookies, a magazine or a book. Similarly, neither does your baby at this age. Always place toys within easy grasp – not so far that they are out of focus or blurry for them but not so close that they can reach without moving – to encourage them to move and reach out. For Gini, placing bright yellow and noisy toys did the trick.
I don’t know the science behind how little babies get egged on by mama’s or papa’s encouraging words but I have seen that happen! I never missed a chance to lavish praise on Gini when she performed ‘monumental feats’ like doing baby push-ups, doing baby push-ups on one hand, balancing on her toes etc. and she lapped it all up, eager to do it longer. And she succeeded!
Some cultures swear by baby massage, some don’t. I come from a family that believes in it. When my mother was here with us after Gini’s birth, she showed me the ropes. At first, I was terrified! Although I believed massage could help, I was (and still am) dead against the rough-housing style that is quite common in many eastern cultures. I started gingerly, looking into her eyes as I massaged her legs to look for any signs of distress. When I saw she was comfortable with that, I moved on to her arms and so on till she started enjoying them and giving me big gummy smiles. Check out some YouTube videos or ask someone to show you before you begin, though.
Many people use walkers to assist their babies scoot. Without getting into the debate whether walkers are helpful or do more harm, I can only tell you that we chose to stay away. Instead, we place pillows and sit around her and let her hold on to the sofa and scoot just how she pleases without pushing her too much. I can’t tell you how incredibly proud we feel to see our baby get confident enough to let go off the furniture and practice those baby steps. Of course, one of us is always around to catch her.
So, these are my tips to encourage baby to crawl and walk. What are yours?