In order to stand unassisted, your baby needs enough muscle strength in her legs, hips, and tummy to support her weight. These muscles build gradually as she masters skills like rolling, sitting, and crawling. For most babies, standing without support won't happen until at least 8 months, and more likely closer to 10 or 11 months (but even up to 15 months is considered normal). To encourage your baby to stand:
• Put her in your lap with her feet on your legs and help her bounce up and down. This fun exercise will strengthen the muscles she needs to stand on her own.
• Bring baby to the park or to a friend's house where she can see other babies standing. If she sees a friend doing it, she might want to try too.
• Give your baby plenty of time to play freely on the floor. The more exercise her legs and hips get, the sooner she'll stand.
Once your baby can stand on her own, she'll probably soon figure out how to use objects (like the coffee table, crib rails, or even your leg) to pull herself up into position, although it takes longer to learn how to get back down. Don't be surprised if your baby cries for help when she wants to sit again. Be patient, and show her how to squat back down on her bottom. Within a few weeks she'll be able to do it on her own.
After your baby can pull herself up, she'll probably enjoy an activity center that sits securely on the floor. These toys keep all the action at baby's chest level to encourage her to stand and walk around, yet they're designed not to tip over. Experts agree that these toys are much better than wheeled walkers, which keep babies in a seated position (not great for improving balance) and can cause serious injuries, including dangerous spills down stairs.
Remember, once your baby's able to stand and pull herself up, she's liable to attempt it on any surface. Be sure to secure any lightweight or unstable furniture, like bookcases, lamps, and small tables, so your baby doesn't bring them crashing down on her head. But don't be too concerned if your baby takes a minor spill as she learns to stand and walk; they're inevitable at this age.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.