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Baby's First Steps

...Must Come Down

Q-tip

When you "rescue" your child from a standing position, don't just scoop her up. Show her a better way: sitting down. Gently bend your baby's knees and lower her bottom as far as it can go without having her let go yet. Then gently pry her clinging fingers from her support, take her hands in yours, and lower her until her bottom hits the floor.

After building her confidence with this approach, try letting her drop down on her bottom. Take her hands in yours, but if her bottom stays close to the ground, let her go. Just make sure your baby lands safely. Be ready to catch her if she starts to topple over to one side or the other with the impact.

Babyproofing

As soon as your baby starts to practice pulling herself to a standing position, secure all the furniture she might use as supports. Because lightweight furniture will probably not bear your child's weight as she tries to pull herself up, she may end up on her back on the floor with the piece of furniture on top of her. Though your baby probably won't get seriously hurt this way, she could become scared or discouraged.

When your baby stands there crying, you will of course go over, rescue your darling by gently sitting her down, and praise her for her courage and skill. Yet almost immediately, she'll pop up onto her feet again, repeating her new trick. This time, it won't take nearly as long for her to figure out that she's stuck again. She'll cry out again, and you'll help her sit down again. But as soon as her bottom hits the floor, she may do it all over again. Now it's become a game for her-and hopefully for you, too.

Whether or not you help your baby discover how to sit, she will quickly learn how to do it on her own. Probably within a week or two of first standing, your baby will lower herself as far as she can go and then bravely drop the last few inches. It won't take more than one drop for your baby to figure out that she won't get hurt (as long as she lands on her well-padded bottom). She may even start to have as much fun dropping down with a thump on the floor as she did pulling herself up in the first place.

Until your baby learns how to fall safely, you may tire of the pulling up, getting stuck, and calling for help game long before your child will. After helping her sit back down half a dozen times, you may be ready for something new. If your baby seems obsessed with the game, try to distract her. Move her away from whatever she's using as a support and sit her down with one of her favorite toys-or try giving her a new toy that she's never played with before.

If your baby immediately leaves the toy and crawls back to her standing spot to pull herself back up, you'll have to indulge her or resort to more drastic measures. Try taking her completely out of the house, maybe for a walk in her stroller or a ride in the car. By the time you get back, your baby may have forgotten her new trick-but not for long.

When your baby first learns to stand (or cruise or walk), it will be nerve-racking for you. You'll see dangers long before your child does. (When you do, remove them or steer your baby away from them.) You'll see she's about to fall, but know you can't get across the room in time to catch her. (Don't worry--as long as you've removed sharp--cornered furniture. Your baby doesn't have very far to fall.)

Although your baby's first weeks of standing, cruising, and walking will be hard on your nerves, don't react by banishing her to a playpen. With practice, she'll get better at maintaining balance and avoiding dangerous falls. But she won't get any practice at all while cooped up in the prison of a playpen. (A playpen with mesh sides may not even allow her to pull herself up.)



More on: Babies

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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