My Dear Daughter has grown large and in charge very quickly, crawling at 6 months and walking at 9 months. Now she is a strong, curious 11 month old who is walking (almost running) everywhere and getting into everything, but she still lacks a lot of verbal skills and comprehension of what she's doing. We do lots of activities and exploring, and of course I had to baby-proof early, but does anyone who has experienced a young walker have advice, stories & wisdom for a first time Mom with a very young toddler?
I think it's great that you seem to have a good understanding of why this combination is a challenge for her and for you! Her gross motor skills exceeding her language skills does make for more of an adventurous life without the understanding and reasoning to go with it. I love your adjectives, that she is strong and curious!! I did have 11 mo old walkers, but not runners! I think at this stage, supervision and redirection are the keys....you've got to be there before or when she gets 'there' and guide her gently into good choices. It's going to be very labor intensive for a little while until she gets a handle on it. There won't be any 'sit there and play while I check my email!' type of moments. Babyproofing is key, setting her environment up for good choices. I would think lots of novelty items that keep her interest would help, so maybe rotating toys and keeping things of high interest (lots of colors, shapes), etc. might help her to sometimes slow down and explore on the floor.
I'm sure others will be along who are in the throes of it!! Mine are older now so I am going from memory!
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Momma-ing the Muffin since October 2011!
One of the things I found with my DD when she started walking was that she was more interested in things that were not on floor level. So some of her toys lived on the coffee table (and some on the shelf underneath it for her to "discover"). We also cleared a small drawer in the kitchen and the bottom two shelves in the pantry for a few toys/books/puzzles (shelf) and non-breakable containers (drawer) that she could play with.
And besides that, yes, lots of supervision.
I took the alternate route and opted not to "baby proof". DD was a walker at 10mos and runner at 11 mos...climbing followed around 12-13mos. Our house is small so only one gate to block the basement stairs, but the caveat is that to get into the house the gate had to be one step down on a landing - so she could crawl down one "step" but not get down the basement stairs. I took the time to show her how to climb safely and how to navigate stairs. By 12 mos she could go up and down stairs on her hands and knees unassisted (she could do it assisted starting around 9mos going up). I want her to be self sufficient but to know her own limits. I can't say for sure she *can't* do something, therefore I always let her try and make sure she does it in a safe way. For example, DH has a tree stand in the back to practice with his bow, DD was interested in climbing it. I let her figure out on her own (me behind her) that the rungs were spaced too far apart for her to manage the first few times. Then once she got it, I allowed her to climb to a certain height, always supervised and always asking permission first. Because there is very little off limits in our house/yard, she's not tempted to do things to test us. My mother was always telling us no, and I did some incredibly stupid things growing up just because I was told no so many times! I never have to worry in other people's homes that DD will impulsively grab at things because she sees breakable stuff all the time in our house and has learned not to touch things. I always incorporate her items into the home (check out Montessori layouts) so everything has a place alongside our adult things. Has she broken things in the process? Yes. Nothing irreplaceable, just a few plates mostly on accident, but she's learned to be very cautious along the way. Her swingset has multiple levels and a fairly steep rock wall which she could navigate no problem at 18mos. She does have a baby swing but at 22mos she can sit and swing on an adult swing if she so chooses. So sometimes with the adventurous ones you're better off being less restrictive and just being sure they do things in a safe manner so they learn their own limits. Better they learn when to be cautious in a safe, controlled environment than to blindly try crazy things and risk a more serious injury.
Yes indeed, lots of supervision and re-direction. I did some baby-proofing as I prefer to have DD exploring freely in a relatively safe environment rather than keeping her in the confines of a play yard. But every now and then, I discover new babyproofing needs!
For a start, I installed baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairway as well as the entrance of the kitchen. Other important aspects includes electrical outlet covers, anti-tip TV safety strap (to prevent the TV from toppling), cord shorteners, cushion covers for the sharp edges of furniture... I even replaced my glass-top coffee table!
Here's some good readings http://babyproofhomes.net/babyproofingtips/
My daughter is 18 mts and my son is 2 1/2 and she started walking at 11 mts.
Although she was walking and her vocabulary was well advanced at 11 months, I still considered her a baby-- not a toddler. Even at 18 months now, she is just beginning to border on toddler to me. The only reason I say this is so your expectations of her are appropriate as she is still very much in her baby phase.
I am not a mom who hides the fact I have kids. If you come into my house, it's always clean and disinfected but we have toys, craft station, musical instruments,videos, music, tents, and all sorts of things to entertain and learn with.
For me, as I have two very young toddlers I think-- I make sure they are constantly engaged.
For language skills, Preschool Prep videos are AMAZING and kids love them. Any toys that they can put things in, open things up, or press buttons, non toxic markers, crayons, and paints...drums to pound on.
Then of course, we have outside time at the park, bike rides, nature walks, dance and circle time...
I had an early walker/runner/explorer, and I remember how all the other mom's I'd get together with for those early play dates would sit and have a conversation, while I'd be off chasing my little one because she never stayed in one place. It was exhausting!
We didn't do a ton of baby proofing ... I didn't want DD to get really hurt, but I also wanted her to know what it felt like to fall and to learn caution by taking physical risks. We did put a stair blocker about three steps up, so she could climb, but not too high. We also did some rearranging of what was in the lower vs. upper cabinets, so there was nothing terribly fragile or dangerous down low, but she could still pull things out. (I should add that while this seemed like enough for my DD, if I had another kid who I felt was truly reckless, I'd definitely rethink my approach).
For the most part, we tried to encourage her to keep moving/exploring. We started doing lots of trips to the playground, both to give her opportunities to challenge herself and to tire herself out. At home, we set up obstacle courses. We put a big mattress on the floor, Montessori-style, in place of a toddler bed. And when she was a little older (maybe 15 months), we mounted a ladder on the wall above the mattress, so she could do even more climbing.
I also purchased a learning tower, since it was a lot easier to involve her in whatever activities I was doing, than to monitor her constantly while I was trying to get something else done. So if I was cooking, I'd set it up so she could participate (when she was very young, just stirring water or squeezing the tongs was enough participation). If I was cleaning something, she'd be there with her own towel/brush/spray bottles to clean it too... she didn't need a lot of language for this, she'd just imitate my movements. Of course, whatever I was doing would take a really long time (like making dinner would take forever!), but at the time it seemed like the best way for us both to get what we wanted out of our days with a manageable amount of frustration.
It sounds like your little daughter is wonderful and you will be in for some intensive mothering, Alison!
You may want to look for places where she can play safely if you live in a area where winter is just starting now. I always baby proofed my house, it just seemed prudent. My first two kids were 26 months apart and they tried to get into everything, I couldn't leave them for a minute (even if there was email in those days. ) My youngest didn't walk early, but she crawled at 5 months and that kid was fast! If I hadn't gotten my house ready, I'm scared to think of what she could have gotten into. I'll admit that on bad days (I have migraines and fibromyalgia) I probably used the VCR and DVD player more than was optimal, but when Mama is down, babies don't see a reason to stop what they are doing. Luckily, she was a busy baby, but also a cuddly baby and liked to nurse a lot, so I did get some rest while she was nursing and napping. I tried to start dinner, often in the crock pot, at those times, as well as throw in the laundry etc. while she was sleeping. (I do remember carrying babies IN the laundry basket because they were too inquisitive to be left alone upstairs while I was in the basement even for a few minutes. Plus my kids would have tried to follow me and could have gotten hurt if they fell down the stairs (even with a baby gate) onto the concrete floor of our basement. If they were awake, it was just easier to take them with me.
I'll admit I did use a saucer in our garden. At first the baby would just sit there on the ground (once she wasn't content to be in the sling while I was planting or weeding or picking or tying up plants) but as they got more mobile they started to eat everything and things like tomato, potato and pepper plant leaves are very toxic so I would put the baby in the saucer while I did my garden work. They had a LOT to look at, I would often put safe leaves and grass on the tray of the saucer so they could play with them, and it was good for them to be outside. My dh built me a "nursing chair" in the garden so I would have a comfortable place to nurse Sage while doing my gardening. (We have an acre lot and our garden is 250+ feet from the house, so stopping, going into the house to nurse wasn't convenient.)
Anyway, you'll find imaginative ways to keep your baby safe and busy. It's always harder when you have a new walker in the winter, because outside activities are somewhat limited, but hey, put in her snow suit, get her a tiny pair of boots and a scarf and mittens and a hat and do some walks with her. She'll LOVE them!
Good luck, Mama. Make sure you take lots of video! Walking babies are SO cute you'll want to relive these days in the future quite a bit.
We have a keekaroo convertible high chair that I just push up to the counter for DD to stand on when helping me at the counter, but the towers are good for the younger stages. We got her a big swing set this summer and she LOVES it! She was doing the rock climbing wall solo at 18mos by going up barefoot with her feet in the gaps between the boards, and by 22mos she was using the actual rocks to climb. The platform with the play area and slide is about 6' and she climbs that ladder as well. I finally got a good year in the garden because of this swing set and the fact that DD was so thrilled to go up the rock wall and down the slide 800x a day...plus it always leads to a good nights sleep! Now winter gear and young toddlers makes for awkward movement walking but they get used to it. I think DD was around 14mos when we got a major blizzard last year in CT and between the boots and ski pants there was no bending going on in her walk! But she was perfectly content to sit in her sled and let the dogs pull her around so we still went out a lot. The hardest thing for us with an active toddler was getting her into shoes. She still prefers bare feet but finally realizes shoes are necessary if she wishes to be in public. Just turned 2 and loves to run around half naked in an oversized pair of rain boots :-P
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
Good to know. I'm tempted by one but am not sure we can afford it right now...
Fiction writer by training, writer/editor of anything anyone will hire me for by trade. Me + D=my girls E (4/2011) and little N, 1/2014.
It's a sort of enclosed stool/platform designed to allow kids to stand at kitchen benches. It has an adjustable base which can be lowered as they grow. If you Google it you will find plenty of pictures.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
DD is 16 months now, and I did build a learning tower. She is starting to talk in sentences and RUN!!! We have lots of fun now that she has a greater understanding of language. Thanks for the advice to get me through the rough patch, Baby Prooofing Complete! Lots of activity stations & low shelves. Good times.
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