Thursday, November 29, 2012

Baby Steps

“One, two, ooopsie!”

“One, two, three!”
“Very good, Mateo!”

“One, two, three… four!
“Come here… Walk some more.”

“You can do it, baby!”

My youngest child was almost seven months old when he started to walk on his own. He started walking around his crib first, holding on to the railings then letting go. Then, he started to walk on our bed. When we saw that he could already walk a number of steps on our bed without holding our hands or fingers, we allowed him to walk on our floor with some rubber puzzle mats on it.  We would count how many steps he would be able to make on his own and we would clap and cheer for him.  Even his older brother, my eldest son who was still three years old at that time, would count with us.  We rejoiced at his every try even when he only made one or two baby steps before falling.  We watched with joyful anticipation every time our baby tried to walk on his own.  We were like spectators in a game keeping score as we count how many additional steps Mateo would be able to make each day.  My eldest son and I would tell my husband every night when he goes home from work the highest number of steps Mateo was able to make each day.  Watching Mateo make his first baby steps had been one of our favorite bonding activities in the past months. It was our joy to watch him make one baby step after another and becoming successful in walking farther on his own.

Last October 31, we watched with delight as we saw Mateo walk untiringly while wearing his Saint Peter costume at our homeschool group’s Halloween party.  We were pleasantly surprised to see him walk around and much farther than before considering that he even had several layers of clothing and with a bunch of keys on one hand.  He was unstoppable!  It was hard to make him sit down that day. He enjoyed walking around!  He was eleven months old then and three weeks away from celebrating his first birthday.

Our baby walked longer distances in the days and weeks that followed. He would walk and walk around the house for hours.  He could already walk fast and sometimes run even before he turned one.

Time flies so fast! Around five months ago, he could barely make a step. Now, we sometimes could not keep up in trying to count his steps because he already walks so fast!

Let me share with you some tips which I think were helpful in enabling our baby to learn how to walk.

1.    Encourage your baby to reach out and walk towards his toys and other objects or persons that he likes.  I noticed that when our baby is looking at something or someone that he’s intent to touch, he would be making more baby steps.  His desire to get a toy or to come to me, his Dad or older brother becomes his focus. In the process, he barely notices that he’s already making a number of steps on his own.  Thus, one of his new favorite games is playing tag, next to playing peek-a-boo.

2.    Show your baby that you are happy and proud with every step he makes.  Make it obvious to your baby that you really liked what he just did so he would be happy and encouraged to keep on doing it.  That’s what we did with Mateo.  We would count out loud, clap and speak words of affirmation to him.  Eventually, we noticed that he would be smiling very wide or laughing as he walks. He would also clap every time he accomplished something aside from walking a number of steps.  I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we would hear him count on his own as he walks around the house because he kept on hearing it from us daily.

3.    Let baby walk barefoot when at home.  Baby feet have yet to develop arches.  Therefore, it is best to let a baby who is still learning how to walk to walk barefoot when at home.  This would stimulate his feet, help him form or develop arches, and to learn to balance.

4.    Massage baby’s legs and feet at least once a day (after bath or before bed).  Massaging baby’s legs and feet helps improve blood circulation and strengthen leg muscles.  Massaging my baby after bathing him is one of my favorite bonding moments with my baby. I usually massage him using a circular and milking motion on the thighs and legs while counting from one to ten. Then, I press and stroke the soles of his feet using my fingers. My baby loves it! He smiles right away as soon as I start counting the strokes.

5.    Make sure that you buy the right kind of shoes for your baby that he can use when he walks outside the house. How do you know if you are choosing the right shoes for your baby? Let me share some of the things you need to check before buying shoes for your baby. 
The very active and happy birthday boy.

a.    The soles of the shoes should be flexible enough to follow the natural movements of baby’s feet. You can check this by bending the sole. You should be able to bend it easily and it should not be too thick and hard. It should be thin enough to be bent even with your fingers.

b.    The soles of the shoes should also be slip-proof since baby is just learning how to balance.
c.    Make sure that the shoes are not too tight and that there is enough room for baby to wiggle or move his toes inside his shoes. Rounded shoes are best.
d.    The shoes should be made of light material that will not easily tire baby’s feet and legs from walking. Heavy shoes would discourage baby from walking because movement would be more difficult. The best shoes are those that are light and comfortable that makes baby feel like he’s not wearing any shoes t all.  But the shoes should be sturdy enough to protect baby feet from bumps or from other rough surfaces that can hurt his feet.

e.    Lastly, choose shoes with insoles that provide stimulation to the soles of the feet. 

Mateo wearing Elle shoes and Yanthy wearing Chicco
shoes at Mateo's 1st birthday party.
Elle and Chicco shoes for babies and toddlers are examples of good shoes for babies because they satisfy these criteria that I enumerated.
“One, two, three, four, five, six… seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve!”

My baby Mateo has just turned twelve months old a few days ago and I’m delighted to see him happily taking baby steps, walking around, and exploring his environment with or without his shoes on.

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