Congratulations, that you and your child have reached this important milestone in his development. “Moving” can look many different ways. Some babies crawl on their hands and knees, roll, scoot on their bottoms, and some drag themselves with their arms never lifting their bodies from the floor. Some babies even skip crawling going straight to walking. But, what does this mean for you? This means, you too, are moving- a lot!! You will want to keep a much closer watch on your baby. Before he was mobile, you could put him on the floor, quickly step into the next room, return, and he’d be right where you left him. This is not the case anymore. Now, when you put him on the floor, he could decide immediately that he doesn’t want to be in that spot and move to where he wants to be. Or, it might take him a few minutes to get bored where you put him and decide to move somewhere else. Also, as they are moving, they are finding so many interesting things to explore and try to put in their mouths- like the dust bunny or old chip under the couch! Or, the electrical outlet on the wall (more on child-proofing in a minute). This is why you can’t leave him alone, even for a few seconds, any more. But, you probably won’t want to. It’s amazing to see what children at this stage of development find interesting, and you won’t want to miss any of it!
Also, now that your baby is moving- let him move! This is a really fun skill for babies; and, once babies start moving, they don’t want to stop. The baby that used to LOVE his swing/bouncy seat/exersaucer/etc. may not want to be in it anymore. If he wants to move, move with him. Follow him to see where he’s going, what he sees, and talk to him about what he’s looking at or finding on the floor. “You found an old chip under the chair! That’s yucky. You can play with this.” And give him something else to explore that is safe and clean.
Now, for child-proofing… The first thing to do is to get on your hands and knees to see what your baby is seeing and exploring. Think about this- as your baby has been lying on the floor for months, he’s had a lot of time to look around and think about “What is that? When I can move, that’s the first place I’m going.” Now, infants don’t have the capacity for long-term planning, but if they did, what would they want to check out? Is there an electrical outlet that he can reach? Is there a drawer or cabinet that holds dangerous items like cleaning supplies or batteries? Stores sell many child-proofing supplies, but you can also prepare your house for a mobile baby on a budget. For electrical outlets, consider covering them with sturdy tape (like Duct tape- but in a boring color, not the new fun patterned tape that would attract your baby to peel it off and put it in his mouth or try to shove it into the outlet). To keep your kitchen cabinets safe, consider a new, very strong rubber band around both knobs. Of course, always be in the same room with your baby keeping a very close eye on him. Even with all the planning you do, he will discover something you never considered.
Mostly importantly- HAVE FUN!
Written by Family Star Parent Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson, MS, is mother to Emogene (IC7) and is an enthusiast for all things related to young children. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Child Development and her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education both from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She has worked with children of all ages from birth through 3rd grade in different positions from teaching to administration to consulting. Currently, she is a grant manager for the early childhood council in Adams County.