Every milestone with your little one is an incredible experience. Until I had my own child, I didn’t get the hype. When I’d see my friends with kids get so excited about their child reaching for a toy, smiling, or crawling for the first time, I thought it was cute but didn’t really understand why it was such a big deal.
But now with my own baby, I am truly in awe every time she does something new. Today she learned how to take a Cheerio out of a snack container, and we had a mini celebration over it. I sent the video out to five friends who I’m sure don’t care about it at all.
As a mom though, all of these milestones are truly exciting to watch, and a big one is seeing your baby crawl and pull themselves up for the first time. It’s incredible to see them focus on the task and accomplish it—and suddenly they are on the go! And while very exciting, it’s also a little scary, because once they start crawling, it’s crazy how fast they can move. And once they are pulling up and cruising, it may mean they are going to walk soon.
With a more mobile baby, there are bound to be more trips and falls along the way.
My baby started to pull herself up around 9 months. I hadn’t yet baby-proofed my house, and I knew this big milestone meant a lot of changes to our living room. She’s now 11 months, and we’re still working on that whole baby-proofing thing. We’re in a rental, and since we’re not sure how much longer we’ll live here (5 months? 2 years? who knows), we’ve been dragging our feet to do serious baby-proofing, but we have made certain changes to make sure our baby can crawl and cruise around in a safe way.
You shouldn’t push your baby to pull up, cruise, or walk before they are ready, but if they are showing the signs and making the moves, you’ll want to prepare your space for these new milestones. Since our baby is on the move—crawling, standing, and cruising, not quite walking—I’ve made some safety changes to our living room and have picked up new toys to work on walking in a safe and fun way.
Here are a few tips to work with your baby on pulling up, cruising, and walking, plus top products for this fun stage.
Have Them Practice in a Padded Area
If you have very soft carpeting, this might be enough for your baby, but if you have hardwood or tile flooring, you will want to add padding to soften those inevitable falls. Remember when your baby was learning to sit and would suddenly fall backward or off to the side, unable to support their weight? It’s more of that but from a standing position, so be prepared for some spills. It happens and it’s to be expected, but it’s always best on a soft surface.
While my baby tries to pull up on everything all over the house, I direct her to our area rug, or to her play area, which is padded with a Little Nomad Play Mat.
Provide Suitable Push Toys
My daughter is currently in the stage where she will grab onto anything she sees and tries to walk with it. This includes small step stools, large chairs, her high chair, and her stroller. None of these are particularly safe or sturdy for her, so we had to bring in a real push toy. We went with the Vtech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, which has over 13,000 reviews and 4.8 stars on Amazon. Though the songs it plays will haunt your dreams and will be stuck in your head for probably the next 18 years, my daughter loves it, and it provides good support for her to cruise around the house.
Another option is a walker, though there are mixed opinions on their safety. According to The Mayo Clinic, baby walkers can cause serious injuries and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against the use of them. Babies can use walkers to get into dangerous spots they otherwise might not be able to get to, like stairs or pools. A push toy and a baby walker are different. We use push toys, but these still require you to keep a close eye on your baby while they use it.
Encourage Climbing (Safely)
While my daughter isn’t quite walking unassisted yet, she seems ready to go rock climbing. She loves to climb on couch cushions and use my own body as her personal climbing gym. Our low-budget way of dealing with all of this crawling and climbing is to take the pillows from our couch and from around our house and create different levels for her to climb on. We also use huge packs of paper towels and toilet paper (still bound in plastic) for her to walk with and climb on. We do have actual climbing pads on our wish list so we can eventually keep our furniture intact.
Gate Off an Area
There are plenty of things you may want to childproof in your home, but if you haven’t quite gotten around to that yet (like us), start with a gated area. We have a corner of our living room gated off, padded, and full of toys. It won’t contain my cruising baby forever, but for now it’s a great padded spot for her to crawl around and to practice her cruising, where sharp edges and unstable furniture are out of reach. You can either gate off a specific play area, or you can use the gate to block off unsafe areas around your house.