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How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part Two

PART TWO

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer

 April 25th 2018.

It has been 6 months since I wrote PART ONE of this series of posts. My son Richard is now 10 months old and he can now roll over with ease, is crawling, cruising and even walking small amounts independently.

Last time we covered the following topics:
  1. Tummy Time
  2. Assisted Rolling
  3. Assisting Sitting Up / Assisted Sit Ups
  4. Assisted Standing
  5. Assisted Squats
All of which gave Richard the ability to roll over sooner than other babies would normally be able to (on average), to be able to sit up on his own sooner, stand up, squat down to pick things up, and do a variety of tasks.

The normal ages for doing the various activities are as follows:

The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:

Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Now with Richard being 10 months old, he has long since mastered rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, cruising (walking by holding on to things), and is walking independently short distances. He has also learned how to walk up and down stairs, with assistance.

Today we are going to talk about other topics, including:
  1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands
  2. Assisted Walking, One Hand
  3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand
  4. Independent Walking
  5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall
#1. Assisted Walking, Two Hands

Walk around your home with your baby for about 5 minutes at a time, holding your baby's hands or fingers by both hands.

I say 5 minutes at a time because doing this for an extended period can become painful for your back if you are constantly bending over.

Note - While there are gadgets for this, such as Jolly Jumpers, Walkers, etc - those are useful, but they will never replace the physical action of walking around your home, local park, library, etc for a few minutes at a time to build of the muscles in your baby's legs. The Jolly Jumper for example does allow your baby to stay suspended in the air, with no fear of falling, but unfortunately in practice is often more like a swing than a walking device. Various walking devices are designed to be pushed around while the baby holds the handlebars, but unfortunately babies don't inherently know they are supposed to do that and so with Richard (for example) he is more likely to just flip the walker over and play with it.

Update, October 2018 - Richard didn't really start using the walker until 14 months, roughly 3 months after he had mastered independent walking.

#2. Assisted Walking, One Hand

Walking with two helping hands is really because your baby hasn't yet learned how to balance themselves and will fall over easily. Walking with one hand means that they have already learned a degree of balance, and is now progressing to being able to walk independently - but for safety reasons and a little added balance the single helping hand is there so your baby has someone to cling to if need be and should a fall happen.

#3. Assisted Stairs, Two Hands vs One Hand

I started Richard going up and down stairs at a very early age, at the same time we were doing assisted walking. If we were doing assisted walking and came to stairs, the natural thing was to simply help him walk up the stairs - something he seems to find hilarious.

The same rules apply, but I do recommend a firm grip on your baby's hands and lots of patience as babies like to take their time on the stairs.

Walking up and down stairs with one hand helping is something Richard now does regularly. Every time we go outside is another chance for him to use the stairs. Thus my recommendation is to see every staircase as an opportunity for your baby to practice walking up/down stairs.

Update, October 2018 - Richard can now climb stairs independently, but for safety reasons I usually hold 1 hand just to be safe.

#4. Independent Walking

There will be times when your baby shoos your hand away and just wants to walk on their own. Just let them do it on their own. Be there in case they fall and keep constant supervision.

With Richard he seems to be magnetically drawn towards cars and traffic, so I am constantly putting him in the middle of the park, far from traffic and then herding him like a collie herds sheep in an effort to keep him away from cars.

With the independent walking I also keep track of the number of steps he does, as a way of record keeping his progress. When he sets a new record for the number of steps, I make a note of it and tell the wife "Richard walked 17 steps today. New record!"

Thus every day you want to allow your baby to play in some sort of safe play area - could be the living room floor, a large play pen, the local park - and just let them walk around on the grass / floor for 30 to 60 minutes every day as they get better at independent walking.

Having a large play pen or play area in your home is also handy.

#5. Letting Go, Letting Them Fall

For a parent learning to let go and let your child fall can be a bit challenging, but it is something you need to do. Your baby needs to learn how to fall, how to land, and how to get back up again and keep doing it.

Learning how to fall safely, take the hit, and get back up is an important skill for babies to learn.

Update, October 2018 - Richard recently discovered he can spin himself in circles and make himself dizzy, and then fall down. He thinks it is hilarious. Clearly falling and getting back up is not a problem for him.

For the parent your goal needs to be there to observe and not to interfere. The only times you should be interfering is when there is danger to your baby, which should be mitigated by simply picking safe places for your baby to practice walking.

eg. A large football field or baseball field is pretty good. Lots of grass to soften falls and the distance to any danger (eg. traffic) is significantly further away and hopefully blocked by fences.


Update, December 2018

Richard is 17.5 months old now and walks independently all the time, except when on a sidewalk near traffic and near other possible dangers (rivers, lakes, pools, etc). He can go up stairs independently, but we usually hold his hand for safety reasons.

He has also:

  • Mastered the buttons on automatic doors.
  • Figured out the buttons on elevators.
  • Figured out escalators.
  • Learned to steal remote controls and cellphones/tablets and press the buttons.
  • Climb up stairs for a slide, sit down and slide down it.
  • Push chairs and other obstacles out of his way.
  • Mastered clapping, high fives, patty-cake, peekaboo, hiding under blankets, kicking things...
  • Crawl underneath furniture or between gaps sideways to escape.
  • Climb up on to furniture (to steal the TV remote).
  • Can spin to make himself dizzy.
  • Figured out this new thing called jumping.
  • He can move surprisingly fast, not quite running yet, but soon enough.

Honestly, if you take your eyes off of him for a few seconds he can run off in a different direction and you have to chase him. He loves to explore.

Thus physically he is now highly capable, so my big challenge these days is to supervise his activities and teach him new things. Every day it is something new.

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