Focus on standing, cruising and walking

Learning to stand starts when the baby first takes weigh on the legs when he/she is held upright at about 6-7 months. With practice and repeated attempts babies develop the strength and coordination to pull themselves up into standing from a sitting or kneeling position.

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They learn to stand supporting with two, and then with one hand, to reach in all directions, and to bend the knees to sit down again. 

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Typically developing babies spend many, many  hours working at achieving each new step along the pathway to independent standing and then walking.

Premature babies, those with low muscle tone, joint hypermobility, developmental coordination disorder and autism may need extra help and encouragement to achieve the strength, flexibility and coordination for learning to sit with good balance. 

  • The journey that leads to walking independently takes many months to complete starting at 4-5 months when infants first starts to support themselves on their legs when held upright, passed the pulling up to standing and cruising milestones and ending in walking a few meters independently.

  • Development can be viewed as a journey over a series of stepping stones that lead to the the major milestones of sitting, crawling, and walking. Each stepping stone represents a new level of skill with greater strength, coordination and balance. 

    The journey that leads to walking independently takes many months to complete. Infants who are motivated and active work very hard to improve their balance and control at each stage - it takes many hours of practice. 

  • And how parents can get their infants walking 

    On average, infants with good development start to walk between the ages of 10-14 months. Infants with joint hypermobility, low muscle tone, Down syndrome and those born pre-term or at risk for autism often start to walk later. 

  • From about the age of 6-7 months most infants will start to put their feet down, stiffen their legs and take some weight when held vertically with their feet on a firm surface.   Some infants seem to really like doing this and prefer to stand rather than sit on a carer’s lap. 

    Here you see how Will (8 months) first bends his legs, then extends them in readiness for standing when he is picked up. 

  • What is functional strength training?

    Functional strength training uses movement patterns that are common in everyday actions, such as stepping  and down, squatting, sitting up from lying and so on. 

    Because functional strength training uses complex combinations and sequences of  movements it has the advantage of improving flexibility, balance and coordination as well as strength.  

  • Infants and toddlers born preterm, and those with low muscle tone, joint hypermobility and delayed motor milestones, often have tightness in some muscles that affects their posture, balance and coordination.

    Tightness in the hip abductor muscles

    The hip abductor muscles pass over the side of the hips. The iliotibial band extends from the lower back over the side of the hip and knee joints. 

    Tightness of the hip abductor muscles is common in infants who lie and sit with the legs wide apart and the hips twisted outwards.