Stand Up, Baby
Most babies pull themselves up to a stand between 10 and 12 months; of course, some do it earlier and even walk before their first birthday, and others are a little later. Whenever it happens, pulling to stand is a major milestone for babies, not just physically, but emotionally, says Sybil Hart, PhD, associate dean of research for Texas Tech University's College of Human Sciences. "Once a baby is upright, he's in a better position to make eye contact and interact socially."
Indeed, standing changes the way your baby interacts with his environment, as it "multiplies his opportunities for exploration and bolsters his confidence," explains Lise Eliot, PhD, author of What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life (Bantam). How exactly? Your baby's vertical stance allows for a new visual perspective, a better reach to grab objects, and a greater sense of equality with other upright humans. Next up: Practicing balance in preparation for taking his first steps.
From the Pediatrician
Sara DuMond, MD: By 10 months, stranger anxiety is probably starting up in full force. To minimize the fear at these well-baby visits, try holding your baby in your lap for most of the exam, as opposed to plopping him on the exam table when the doctor walks through the door.
On the other hand, if your baby has started to crawl, sitting still in your lap may be the last thing he wants to do! In light of germs, it's probably best that he stay off the floor. To keep him happy while you wait (hopefully not too long), holding him up to a mirror (many offices have one) is always entertaining. Or let him rip up the paper on the exam table -- we don't mind at all!
The Age of Frustration
Between 10 and 12 months, life gets frustrating for baby. Just as your baby manages to pull herself up to the coffee table, you swoop down and move her to the playpen. Or she manages to get her hands on a really interesting glittery thing (your necklace), and then you pry it out of her hands.
Your baby may also feel frustrated because you can't figure out what he's saying. He may point to the fridge, saying "baba, baba," his word for everything from "baby" to "ball," but not, until now, anything that would be in the fridge. Your string of wrong guesses only enrages him.
Finally, as babies get closer to a year, we expect them to wait a little. Instead of feeding him immediately like you did when he was a newborn, you might expect him to play with a couple of toys while you warm up lunch. This is by no means irresponsible parenting: babies need to be exposed to a little frustration now and then to learn how to become patient, but it's not an easy lesson!
Holly Robinson lives with her three children outside of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, January 2007.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.