There are several stages to this. At first, your baby will use you to fully support their attempts. Then, they start to work out how to use furniture and other things to pull themselves up. Finally, babies build their confidence in staying upright and begin to branch out. There are ideas for each stage here – click the link for the stage you are interested in:
From about 4 to 6 months
- When fully supported, your baby will take some weight through extended legs
- as their head and body control improves they have time to be aware of what’s around and will start to bend and straighten their legs – and bounce
- As the muscles build, some babies will stand with just their hands held. Others need more support on their trunk, and that is OK
If your baby curls his or her toes at this stage when standing, it is not a problem. This often happens as the baby tries to get more stability and balance.
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From 7 to 9 months
Once your baby has good head control and reasonable balance …
This is the time for practising pull-ups! Your baby will be delighted to learn a new skill, and being able to explore a whole new level. And it is a step towards more independence and relying less on you.
Every baby is different and it takes longer for some. You can help by making it easier, by physically helping, and by making it worth trying. Here’s how:
- use an item of furniture that is solid and low to practise pulling up to stand
- try putting some attractive toys on it so your baby has to pull up to reach them
- kneel in front of the furniture with your baby on your knee and help him or her pull to stand. You may see that at first your baby pulls up with the arms, but gradually starts to push with the legs as they get stronger. You’ll do most of the work to start with, until your baby gets the strength and skill to do more
- Once that is happening, try placing your baby kneeling at the surface and see if he or she will pull up to stand – you may need to help with a hand under the bottom to get fully into standing
Do make sure that the furniture is stable and ensure no hard edges!
This is also a good time to develop balance by using big toys. Try supporting your baby to sit on a rocking horse, or in a small swing seat – great for developing confidence in heights. Slow gentle movements also help your baby enjoy movement and rhythm (believe it or not, this will help their reading in a few years!)
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From about 10 to 12 months
Once your baby can balance, and is enjoying pulling up to stand securely, it is time to build confidence and help your baby make the most of the new skills!
Again, don’t worry about pushing things. This takes time and there is not a race. If you go too fast, your baby won’t build up the confidence he or she will need for setting out on foot!
Here are some ways to those first steps:
- give your baby opportunities to stand at a low surface and give him or her interesting toys to play with on it
- as confidence improves, encourage him or her to use both hands to play, leaning against the surface
What about walking?
At this point, parents can get very excited and think their baby is on the brink of walking.
But this can take quite a while yet. There is a lot of skill involved. Please don’t make comparisons or try to rush things. But you can find some ways to encourage and practice walking once your baby is ready in the page on learning to walk.