When Sebbie was born we were gifted a pack of milestone cards. At first we diligently made sure to record every key milestone; his first day, his first week, his first smile, and the first time he tried food. I’m the first to admit that I’m not always the most organised and as life got busier with a lively baby, we didn’t always remember to capture all those key milestones. At the end of January though we reached one of those milestones that every parent waits for in eager anticipation… the day baby takes their first step.
It felt like It felt like we’d been waiting for his first steps for a long time. He’d started crawling at around 8 months and after that didn’t stop. He raced around the house on all fours, getting himself into all into kinds of trouble from tipping over Lucy’s water bowl to taking a tumble down the stairs. We raced to put up stair gates, baby proof the house and move dog bowls up high. The speed with which we started crawling meant that we we naturally thought he’d be walking in no time at all. However, the months went on and he just wasn’t interested. He started pulling himself up on furniture, with tables and the washing machine being two of his favourites, but there were no signs of any steps. We thought he might need some encouragement so got him a push along train with flashy lights and a grating tune. The train went down a treat but he wasn’t showing any signs of wanting to let go. Nor did he want our help with walking. Our helping hands were quickly pushed away and he’d go back down on all fours and crawl away.
At around 13 months my antenatal WhatsApp groups started filling up with proud mums posting videos/pictures of their babies taking their first steps. I thought to myself that Sebbie’s steps couldn’t be far off, so we got him measured for his first pair of shoes. Made from soft leather and lined with sheepskin they looked so comfortable I wanted a pair for myself. While he was perfectly happy to wear them, there were no steps. He wore them every time we went outside, from the swings to sitting on his push along scooter but not once were they used for their intended purpose. I thought about buying him a pair of wellies but decided against it in case he outgrew them before he’d even worn them.
As a mum and indeed a parent, it can be difficult not to worry about your child’s development, especially important milestones like walking. It seems like such a vital life skill. Although as an adult no one ever asks you when you first sat up, took a first step or said your first word. Certainly it’s not something that comes up in a job interview. The rise of social media has meant that as a parents we can feel even more pressure for our children to be meeting all their milestones and that can set off any insecurities.
Yet a quick Google search told me that the average age for most babies to take their steps is around 14 months and in some case babies won’t walk until they’re 18 months (not that you should always trust Doctor Google!). The truth is that all babies develop differently and they’ll reach their milestones on their timetable, not yours, or what it says in a parenting book or on Google. For Sebbie he didn’t feel the the need to walk when he could race around on all fours.
At almost 16 months he took his first three steps and it happened so quickly we almost missed it and definitely weren’t able to record it. He walked from the sofa to the washing machine and then promptly fell on his bottom. That week he took more and more steps, slowly growing in confidence. Whenever he got frustrated and felt that he was going too slowly he resorted back to all fours. Now at almost 18 months his confidence has grown and he runs around the house. We’ve only had the minor scrape such as the time when he fell over on gravel twice in one weekend (and turning up to nursery looking like he’d been through a few rounds of boxing).
So it’s probably time to dust off those milestone cards and finally use the last one to record his first steps. We’ve gone ahead and brought him a pair of wellies so he can go and splash in puddles. As he continues to grow and develop I’ll try to remind myself that every baby follows their own time table and certainly not that of their parents.