BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE. Baby’s ability to move and mobility development.




Baby’s OMSDEP: Her mobility development intentions:


  • First, to become an excellent and natural creeper who can travel about her world. Then, to become a natural and excellent walker who can also travel about her world; but more easily and quickly than by creeping.



Creeping before walking:


After several days (or perhaps even a week or two) of occasional hovering on her hands and knees baby will set off creeping. Her ability to explore the world has now increased more than tenfold. Now, as a creeper, she has much less drag and potentially greater speed than she ever had as a crawler. At the same time her senses should now be more powerful and her knowledge of the world huge compared to that at the time of her birth. Her natural curiosity about the world and her quest for more knowledge and skills will usually motivate her to creep further every day than she did the previous day. But, until she can balance well enough to creep faster than she can crawl, she will crawl when she needs to hurry. Excited and immersed in the joy of creeping baby will be fairly satisfied with creeping as a method of moving about the world until, at the end of this level, she decides to walk. 


The natural way baby will become an accomplished walker is to creep often every day. She will then develop abilities, such as more accurate balance, that are required to learn to walk. If she is often picked up and carried she could begin to prefer being carried to creeping, just as some adults habitually prefer sitting, or driving, to walking. She might then begin to complain if she is not carried on demand.  The more she is carried the less opportunity she has to creep, and the longer she is likely to take to become a walker, and the lower quality her walking could become. To become an excellent walker (and eventually an excellent runner) almost always requires considerable prior experience as a crawler and as a creeper. To get that practice baby needs to spend most of her time on the floor and definitely not in a bouncer, stroller, walker-trainer or similar apparatus. Every time baby creeps she is a little closer to becoming a walker. When she can creep a total of 360 meters each day then she should become a ‘cruiser’ walker within the next week. ‘Cruising’ is the first stage of walking; when baby stands up and ‘walks’ while holding onto furniture and other objects for support. The total daily distance of 360 meters she can be expected to creep each day before becoming a walker is the total of all the short and long creeps she has in one day. Some of baby’s creeps included in the daily total might be, for example, one meter between a toy frog and a rattle plus ten meters exploring from the kitchen, down the hallway and across the bedroom.


If you want to estimate when baby will begin walking observe how far she creeps for say, 60 minutes, and then multiply that distance by the number of hours she is awake. Then subtract or add any more or less distance you think she will cover during the day. There is no need to follow her with a tape measure but if you measure the hall length and the distance across rooms you can then estimate how far she creeps when, for example, she creeps down the hall three times and across the living room twice. If you want to be more accurate then you might need to set aside one day each week or two to observe and write down how far she creeps during that day. Again, if you know for example the distance down the hall and across the rooms, then you can add those distances together each time she creeps across them. 


Creeping provides baby with good exercise and her lung development is enhanced if she creeps quickly and needs to breathe more deeply as a result. Older siblings can be very helpful by playing creeping races to encourage baby to creep quickly. Parents, of course, can also play creeping-fast games with baby.


Use games such as creeping after a rolling ball or placing interesting objects across the room or in other rooms for baby to creep to. Avoid going to baby when possible and encourage her to creep to you instead. Encourage her to creep about the house instead of being carried by you or others. This might require that you take more time while you wait for baby; but she benefits by creeping further. 


A carpeted floor is preferable for creeping, as it is less likely to hurt baby’s knees than a timber, tiled or similarly hard floor. Beach sand can be a fun creeping surface when she can easily creep about three meters; providing that the sand is not so soft that she bogs down. 



Children and Staircases:


Many children have been injured on staircases and for that reason some parents fear helping their child to use a staircase. But it is important for those parents to consider that a child who is not permitted to use staircases might, at some time, use one when unsupervised. The unsupervised and inexperienced child on a staircase is considerably more likely to have an accident than an experienced child. parents help baby to learn to creep up and down staircases safely under parental supervision, rather than avoiding the issue or putting it off until later. Learning to use a staircase safely also helps baby to learn about safety needs in general and the skills learnt in staircase use now are also helpful when she is a toddler and walks up and down staircases. The safest way for baby to creep down a staircase is to go feet first. When she goes feet first she should always be able to prevent herself from rolling or sliding down the steps, providing she is not overdressed. The safest way for baby to creep up a staircase is head first as she should then be able to avoid rolling or sliding down the steps. 


Babies usually enjoy exploring staircases and therefore they are usually keen to do this activity but, because of the risks involved, they should always be closely supervised. The shadowing technique can be used to ensure baby’s safety. Parents who have fears about baby using a staircase may need to delay starting this activity as their fears may make baby fearful.


The Shadowing Technique:


When using the shadowing technique the parent is always one or two-steps below and about three hundred millimetres to the left or right side of baby. The parent is always facing baby and walks up or down the steps ‘shadowing’ her. From this position the parent should be able to catch or steady baby if she requires help. 


When using the shadowing technique a parent will always start going down steps before baby and baby will always start going up steps before the parent. 


It is essential that the shadowing parent keeps his or her attention on baby and watches her constantly.



Activities for parents and babies:


  1. Baby should spend most of her day on the floor as she can then creep naturally whenever she wishes to. Maintain a happy floor environment throughout the day. (See Mobility Development, Levels1 and 2 for more information about the importance of being on the floor). 


  1. Ten times each day get down on the floor with baby and encourage her to creep. Use a happy and enjoyable technique such as calling her to you and then convey your great joy to her if she only moves a few centimetres. Or encourage her to creep over to a favourite toy, gradually increasing the distance she needs to creep to it.  Avoid ever expecting her to creep further than she can. The secret of success is to ensure that baby has fun and always succeeds. Use games such as creeping after a rolling ball, creeping quickly together, or placing interesting objects across the room or in other rooms for baby to creep to. Encourage fast creeping every time you do this activity. Avoid going to baby when possible and instead encourage her to creep to you. Encourage her to creep about the house instead of you carrying her. This might require that you take more time while you wait for baby; but she benefits by creeping further. 


  1. Provide baby with the opportunity to creep a little further each day. This means providing her with reasons such as those suggested above. At first she will be encouraged to creep only 20 or 50 centimetres further but, as she gains in creeping experience, she will be creeping further and can be encouraged to creep 5 or 10 meters further each day. Cheer her on each time she attempts to creep and thereafter whenever she creeps.


  1. Never put baby in a bouncer or other restrictive apparatus such as a cot, playpen or ‘walker’.


  1. Using staircases: 


Baby should never be permitted to use a staircase without a supervising parent being present.


When baby can creep a distance of 10 metres across a floor do as follows:  



Creeping up 


Three times each day place baby three steps down from the top of a staircase and shadow her as you encourage her to creep to the top of the staircase.

Add one more step to the distance she creeps every time she happily creeps up the steps six times, that is, each two days. This means that if baby happily creeps up the three steps for two days then, for the next two days, you place her four steps from the top of the staircase. Then, if she happily creeps up the four steps for two days, you then place her on the fifth step, and so on. If at any time baby appears to tire or becomes disinterested in creeping up the stairs then immediately reduce the number of steps she creeps up each two days by two steps. Then again begin to add one more step each two days when she happily creeps up the steps for two days. 


Creeping down a staircase::  


One week after baby begins creeping up a staircase use the same procedure to help her to creep down a staircase. But, instead of starting three steps from the top of the staircase, start two-steps up from the bottom of the staircase. Shadow baby very carefully and encourage her to creep backwards feet first down the staircase and not up. Be sure that she does not try to turn and creep down headfirst as she might then roll or slide and could be injured. If she does try to turn hold her and reposition her so that her head is straight up and her feet are straight down the staircase. Then gently encourage her to creep down feet first and head last. A pillow or other soft, stable obstruction can be placed on the step above baby to encourage her to creep backwards rather than forwards. Creeping down stairs headfirst is very dangerous and baby should never be permitted to do so. 


Clothing for creeping: 


Long pants to protect knees. Socks might be required to protect feet on rough surfaces such as some slate floors. Other clothing should be loose and comfortable but not so loose that it will get caught or interfere with creeping in any way, as do dresses. Dresses and skirts should never be worn, as they tend to trip the creeper or stop her from creeping altogether.



What baby should be doing at this Level of development:


  • She should be creeping a few centimetres to enter this level.


  • She should, day by day, increase her creeping distance up to approximately 360 metres each day.


  • She should begin to lift herself into the walking position called cruising at the end of this level. Cruising is when the child, who until now has been a creeper on her hands and knees, pulls herself up onto furniture (or other objects) and walks while using the furniture for support. Cruising is a difficult task at first and baby usually acts very cautiously, like a rock climber who carefully moves each foot a short distance while keeping a tight grip on the rock face.   


What baby should be doing as she enters the next Level of development:


  • Beginning to cruise.



An average child is likely to move on to Level 4 at approximately age 12 months.


A child could potentially move on to Level 4 at approximately age 9 months.