I am all about allowing Sprout to develop at his own pace without pushing him. But on the last few weeks, that pace has picked up significantly. This week, Sprout truly started walking!
He first got on the move at around 7 months, when he started scooting backwards. While I thought it would be a short phase – surely he would get bored with going backwards – he didn’t seem to mind.
In fact, it took him almost two months before moving forwards appeared to occur to him. One day, something just clicked – Sprout got his hands and legs coordinated and was on his way. Once he started, there was hardly a learning curve. It was as if he had been practicing in private. Right around the same time, he started pulling up on everything he could get his hands on – the couch, the coffee table, the curtains, our pants, my hair (Ouch – I am not Rapunzel.).
Following the same pattern, he crawled and pulled up on things for a couple of months, showing little interest in walking until near his first birthday. He “cruised” by hanging on to furniture quite well, but didn’t try to bridge gaps he couldn’t reach across or stand on his own. He would walk from place to place if we helped him, but he didn’t seem that interested in it.
But then, about a month and a half ago, walking with our help was all he wanted to do. He’d sit on the floor and raise up his hand, indicating that he wanted a finger or two to grab onto. Once anchored, he would twist his leg out from under him, place one foot down, and then squirm a bit to get the other one in place. Soon enough, he was so solid with our help that he was walking both inside and outside, over all sorts of surfaces. Playing with any his toys paled in comparison to walking! Chris said that some days, his back started to give out from having to lean over so much.
Despite his new-found love, Sprout was totally uninterested in walking independently for several weeks. Just over two weeks ago, he walked for the first time on his own after we let go of his hand. But even then, he was very hesitant. He would only take “steps” if Chris or I were very close by with open arms.
Suddenly at church last week, he decided he had quite enough practice and it was time to strike off on his own. He was walking all over the place, now unafraid. While he still didn’t like falling, he could walk well enough on his own to actually get somewhere without tumbling every few steps.
Since then, he’s been practicing his skills every chance he gets. He still likes holding mommy or daddy’s hand, but lets go as often as not. Sometimes when he’s walking on his own, he keeps his right hand in the air, steadying himself with our virtual support. He was even chasing a little girl on the lawn at our Town Square yesterday afternoon. She looked more disappointed than he did when he fell, circling back and holding out her arms to help him get up.
While he falls very little considering how recently he started walking, it’s still a lot compared to an adult. His reaction really varies, ranging from not caring at all to wailing immediately. (We’ve already had some dramatic ones.) When he does seem distraught post-fall, describing his feelings for him (“Oh, that hurt to fall down, falling down is scary.”), a technique from The Happiest Toddler on the Block, has actually helped quite a bit. After a brief whine, he’s usually satisfied and waves his hands to request help getting up.
Although he can’t do them on his own yet, he’s obsessed with steps, both crawling and walking up them. On our way to the playground yesterday, he spent so long stepping on and off of the sidewalk curb that the kids that had been playing there left by the time we arrived. When we were in Peru, I joked that the Incas discovered the stair and said, “Yes, that’s what we will build our empire on.” I despise climbing stairs, but he would have fit right in.
Now he’s intently focused on his next skill – climbing. Before he started walking independently, he actually showed more interest in trying to climb – lifting his knees up in the air and trying to get footholds – than walking. In fact, he climbed up to the couch using my leg as a step-stool before he took his first steps.
For big steps or climbing up the rocks in our Town Square, he holds on to both my hands and lifts his foot up above his waist. If we don’t shift his weight for him, he’ll put all of his weight on our hands, making him near-perpendicular to whatever he’s climbing. He doesn’t seem to mind – he must have it in his blood from me rock-climbing while he was in-utero.
I’m both proud of and nervous about his passion for climbing. While walking is a big deal, he can’t really access any household items that he couldn’t previously. But once he starts climbing – especially if he progresses as quickly as he has with the other skills – we’re doomed.
Now, Sprout is definitively a toddler – there’s no denying it. I love walking with him now, despite the repetition, and look forward to walking all sorts of places with him in the future.