You spend the first few months of your baby’s life giddy with excitement at every development – from grasping something in their hands to that very first wobbly roll – and you eagerly await the moment they take their first shuffly crawl. And then it happens. And your life will never be the same again.
I remember when my daughter (my vivacious, active, energetic, incredibly cheeky 18-month old I’ll simply call Moo for the purposes of this blog – not because she has a particular fondness for cows, but because it’s a nickname we somehow adopted for her since birth!) first started to creep forward on her knees. We were beyond excited, hovering above her with the video camera in our hands at every opportunity. She was unsteady at first, and grew increasingly frustrated as she rocked herself forward on her knees over and over again.
Sometimes she was so frustrated that I had to give her a friendly Time Out and distract her with another quest (oh the wonders of stacking cups). After lots of wobbles, a few tears and some painful nights not sleeping as she tried to master the activity in her cot, she began to crawl. Did I mention that she was only seven months old?
We were ecstatic. I captured it on camera and posted it to Facebook (as you do). My little trouper was on the move.
And about 20 minutes later when she was following me to the kitchen, tugging at my pyjama bottoms and wouldn’t sit still, I realised what this meant. No more “lie here sweetie while mummy gets her coffee” or “just wait one second while I answer the door”. No, none of that existed any more. She was here, there and everywhere.
It’s even harder if you try to leave the house. Seven months into maternity leave and the days of meeting up with friends – at cafes, houses or parks – abruptly came to an end. She was crawling all over the place, trying to get up stairs, behind bookshelves or out of patio doors, picking up everything and opening drawers and cupboards she shouldn’t be.
Or I was trying to stop her crawling because I didn’t think the gravelly terrain of the local playground or the dirty floor of a nearby coffee shop was particularly the place for her to scuttle around on her hands and knees – the same hands she puts everything in her mouth with! Although, admittedly, she won this battle more often than not.
I don’t want to put parents off though. The pride you get from each physical, emotional and mental development is fantastic, and I even remember beaming when I turned up at our first Baby Sensory class post first crawl and she shuffled right across the circle into the middle to watch our lovely leader sing “Say hello to the sun”.
Of course, I then spent every subsequent class slightly jealous of all the other mummies whose babies sat or lay there staring into their eyes as they sang, signed and cooed at their immobile little ones, while Moo was crawling – then walking – all over the place.
That’s right. Within a week of crawling, she was pulling herself up and cruising along furniture. At nine months old, she took her first steps. Again, we captured it on camera. Again, we were over the moon.
But if you thought crawling was difficult, wait till they’re running and you have to chase them everywhere! At least there are some benefits to a fully standing walking child. You can actually take them out – to the park, houses, cafes etc. – without worrying about mucky sore knees. They’re not so frustrated at not being able to reach for the toys they want. And (my favourite) you can hold their tiny little hands as you walk with them side by side.
So, while a mobile baby is a huge game changer in this parenting lark, it’s also immensely satisfying. Your little baby is becoming a toddler, and seeing them grow up happy and healthy is the single most amazing feeling in the world – even if you don’t get to sit still for the next upteen years….