Parenting a newly mobile baby is no small task.
My youngest, now twelve months old, recently became a confident crawler and is constantly on the move. He can catch up to his older siblings and is learning the fine art of knocking over carefully constructed towers and perfectly positioned train tracks. While I may have more work keeping him safe (and our house clean), we’re loving every moment of his mobility.
Baby milestones are exciting and, while there are small portions that become a hassle, I’ve loved watching our little ones learn and grow through each stage. From still to full of movement, here are a few tips for enjoying (and preparing for) baby's the transition to crawling.
Enjoy the Still Months
As a mother to five, I urge you to enjoy those still months.
Take note of the precious moments of discovery babies have before they move. Watch as your child memorizes your face while you hold him. Smile as she babbles to her reflection in a mirror. Enjoy playing, surrounded by toys, with your sitting baby.
Life becomes exciting, and fast-paced, once baby’s on the move. While there’s lots to learn, I urge you not to wish it away.
Be Prepared for Movement
While the best-case scenario is to make your home safe for a mobile baby before he’s born, it’s likely that you’ll still have some areas left to tackle. Take heart, you have a bit of time before baby is exploring every nook and cranny.
Once baby begins to roll over is a good time to make sure you have safe places for him to play. For most babies, rolling precedes getting up on all fours and crawling.
Before you cover every corner, gate every doorway, and lock every cabinet you may want to think about if you want to baby proof your home or home proof your baby.
With baby proofing, you physically limit baby’s space so he’s never in a situation where he’s by objects that he shouldn’t play with. When home proofing, you make sure the physical area is safe while allowing baby freedom to explore. Home proofing comes with the expectation that you will, at times, need to tell baby “no” and redirect her if she’s playing with something off-limits.
Do know, whether your choose to baby proof your home or home proof your baby, both methods agree that baby needs safe areas to play in.
Be Prepared to Clean
Having a mobile baby can put your on high alert for how easily a house gets dirty.
If you took a look at my baby’s clothing towards the end of the day you may think I hadn’t cleaned my floors this week. Baby will inevitably pick up some dirt and grime as he’s crawling along.
You’ll want to take a look at your cleaning routines and plan in an extra floor cleaning in the areas baby plays.
In addition to cleaning physical dirt, make sure you’re checking baby’s play areas several times a day for small, chokable objects. This is especially important if you have older children whose toys include small pieces.
Enjoy the Teachable Moments
Having a mobile baby means the doors are open wide for teachable moments.
Of the multitude of things you’ll teach baby, focus on these two first:
1. Teach baby to stop and turn when his name is called.
2. Teach baby that “no” and “all done” means that he needs to move on from his current activity to a new one.
Even with careful planning and preparation, there will inevitably be a moment when baby attempts something unsafe. Teaching these two listening skills early gives you and baby a common language for redirecting focus from the potentially harmful activity back to the safe one.
The transition from a still baby to a mobile one really is fantastic. All of a sudden, baby’s enamored with the everyday world that, so often, becomes mundane to adults.
Instead of rushing to change the laundry or clean up the dishes, take a few moments to get down on the floor and experience life from baby’s perspective; you may just learn a thing or two from your little one.
Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.