Baby steps

Right from the start, The Baby appeared to be a total pudding. She was early to sit, at five and a half months, but move? Forget it. For months, she was contented to sit there looking pretty while babies much younger than her rolled and crawled around her. Seriously, she didn’t roll over until a week shy of her first birthday, and even then, the effort it required was hilarious.

It’s a good job she’s my second child. Had she been my first, I’d have been paranoid that something was wrong. But no. She’s just lazy.

Or at least, she *was* lazy. Given her complete lack of mobility, I was convinced she’d be late to crawl and walk. But actually, she was an only-slightly-later-than-average 10.5 months when she got crawling sussed, on Christmas eve, spurred on by the sight of an open tin of Roses. And now, at 13.5 months – spot on average – she’s starting to walk. I wouldn’t say she’s walking yet; to me, that accolade is only earned when a child swaps crawling for walking as her primary mode of transport. But she’s taking lots of steps on her own, walking pretty solidly when holding my hand, and showing a lot more desire to stay on her feet, rather than dropping to her knees as soon as her support is removed.

Watching The Baby learn to move has been fascinating for me, and has highlighted the differences between her and her big brother. The Boy was her complete opposite, very active from a young age. He rolled his way from object to object at four months, crawled at six months, and was up and cruising at eight months. And while he didn’t walk until 13 months either, he went from first steps to walking full-time within a few days.

The Boy’s desire to move was always so powerful that technique didn’t matter to him. He commando-crawled for a good six weeks before finally getting up onto all fours, and started walking before he could stand unsupported; he had to crawl to the sofa and pull himself up before he could step away. It also meant that he was permanently covered in bumps and bruises.

The Baby, however, is much more thoughtful about how she moves. She didn’t commando-crawl at all, but waited until she knew how to do it ‘properly.’ Likewise, she’s been getting herself up to standing in the middle of the room for weeks now. She’d stand for minutes, bend down, pick something up, bend down to put it down again, clap her hands, all without falling over, but take a step? No chance. Even now she’s gaining confidence with walking, she’d much rather have a finger to hang onto, whereas The Boy was unstoppable (if somewhat kamikaze) as soon as he realised he could walk.

Girl/boy difference, or just the difference between children? Who knows?

Although her cautiousness has made The Baby slower to get going, it’s made the process of learning to move a lot less hair-raising for me. Unlike when The Boy was newly toddling, I feel relatively confident that she’s not likely to throw herself down the stairs, try to scale the kitchen table, or run headlong into the patio doors. Of course, I’ve probably jinxed it now…

The Baby still has a way to go before she’s walking full-time, but once term starts again next week (and assuming this infernal rain stops), I know she’ll be desperate to be on her feet toddling round the park with her brother after collecting him from school – albeit with my hand to cling onto. So on the to-do list this week is a trip to the shoe shop to get her feet measured and buy her a pair of cruisers. No doubt it’ll be the start of a lifelong obsession with shoes. And it’ll also be the start of a new era, as I’m forced to accept that my baby is becoming a toddler.

I said ‘becoming,’ though. She’s not there yet; she’ll still be a baby for a while. And that suits this sentimental mummy just fine.

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