A child typically begins pulling to stand between 9 to 12 months of age. That transition in development from infant to toddler is both an exciting time and a bit stressful! Watching them begin to pull up to stand, then start to take those first “cruising” steps along furniture is fun to watch, but yet nerve wracking as you scramble to figure out how to “up” the level of baby-proofing in the home. (It is amazing how far a young toddler can stretch those arms!)
Even though 9 to 12 months of age is typical for a child to pull to stand, there are those little ones that are perfectly content crawling or being picked up and carried, showing little interest in pulling up to stand, standing independently, and or cruising/walking around the home. While this can be worrisome for parents, most likely your child simply needs a little extra encouragement to take them to the next level.
Below are a few tips to help your child want to stand while engaging in play and eventually take those first independent steps, but first, we strongly encourage you to pull out those running shoes! We promise, your baby will be on the MOVE in no time!
Everything you want a child to do at this age involves motivation, so the best strategy is to provide play that encourages those standing upright postures that ultimately translates to hip and leg strengthening needed for your child to stand and progress to walking independently.
Have your child play “standing” on their knees: At a low table or other stable furniture, have your child participate in play “standing” on their knees or what we like to call “tall” or “high” kneel position. This position allows for strengthening of the child’s hip muscles and core in a less challenging upright posture when compared to true standing, which will in turn make it easier for them to progress to independent standing and walking.
Pull to stand from a sitting position on your lap: place toys on a higher surface. From a position sitting on your lap, encourage them to grab the higher surface and pull up into standing to encourage general leg strengthening.
Whenever they want to be picked up, encourage your child to pull up to standing (or climb to stand) using your legs as support before you actually pick them up. You may need to help them the first couple of times by holding their hands while they stand, but they will get the idea!
Encourage play in a standing position: put toys on a raised surface such as an ottoman, couch, or magnets on a vertical surface. When your child is standing at furniture for play, add an extra challenge to further strengthen their hips and legs by encouraging them squat down to pick up toys from the floor while holding onto furniture.
Standing with back to wall: place your child in a standing position with their back against the wall or in a corner for support. Sit in front of them without holding them up and play – bubbles are a favorite! This will also encourage them to start shifting forward to take their first steps.
Working on strength and balance by motivating your child through play are good ways to help them progress from crawling to being up on their feet!