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December 05, 2023

Natural Gross Motor Development - Walking

You know that I love natural gross motor development principles. I love watching infants unfold at the time and place that they are ready. Instead of moving babies for ourselves, we allow them to discover their bodies and in turn get to see all these amazing phases of development that are sometimes overlooked. Transitional positions, unique climbing challenges, different ways of discovering motion, and so much more. It's all there with natural gross motor development. And, it's all leading to one of the greatest feats of human design - walking. 

Walking requires so many different skills at one time - everything from strength and coordination to balance. Children will reach this milestone at completely different times. For my kids, it's been a huge range. My oldest was solidly walking by 9-months-old, and Penelope didn't even start to attempt steps until 15-months. The rest were somewhere in between. 

Montessori Baby: Phases of Walking

There are so many beautiful little steps that unfold along the path to walking. Here are some that I observed with Penelope:

  1. Creeping 2 hands along stable surface: more of a side shuffle  
  2. Walking while pushing object with less and less stability: supported by walker wagon, bike, low stools
  3. Walking near or with one hand on stable surface: more forward motion than before, may not even realize they aren't holding on 
  4. Walking between two stable items: supported by furniture placement, and not tricking them and moving away
  5. Walking to desired item: walking with a specific item in mind
  6. Walking to walk: just walking without specific motivation
  7. Walking holding any object: usually in one hand
  8. Walking holding heavier and heavier objects: moving toward maximum effort

You'll notice that none of these phases were me walking her around by the arms. That posture isn't one that is going to help your child gain the balance or confidence to walk safely on their own. Hands high above their head, takes away their hands to practice the parachute reflex. It also changes their balance and center of gravity making the actual process of walking significantly different. I suggest instead to have low and stable items available that your child can push instead. Resist the urge to move their bodies before they are ready to do so on their own. 

You'll also notice that there are no ages here. Look for the stage, don't watch the calendar. 

I'm sure there have been others phases of walking that Penelope has or could have gone through. And every child's journey will be different. Thanks for coming on this nerdy movement journey with Penelope and I. Now that she is solidly walking there are some other fun gross motor 

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Anonymous said…
Great outline of the steps involved! Our third is around steps 4-5 at 18 months, and it’s a process! It’s reassuring when laid out this way, to remind us how much goes into being a confident walker.