Dear friends,

“Is he walking?” That’s the number one question I am asked about my son, Bennett. Since he’s 16 months old, my reaction is a little sheepish. “No, not yet,” I respond. “Oh, don’t worry,” they try to reassure me. “Once he’s walking, he’ll start to run and then you’re in trouble.” To be honest, I’m just looking forward to Bennett no longer pushing furniture all over our house. If you ever wonder why the tables and chairs in CMEE’s lobby appear to have been moved haphazardly, it is likely Bennett (or another novice walker) recently visited and has done some “redecorating.”

What’s surprised me most about Bennett learning to walk is how non-linear it is. I had assumed his walking would develop much like those “Evolution of Man” charts that they used to have in anthropology class. I envisioned after he learned to crawl, Bennet would start to crab walk. And, once he could stand, he would immediately begin to toddle until he finally walked completely upright. Instead, he seems to go back and forth with a whole range of locomotion options from crawling and climbing to cruising and crab walking. I got very excited a couple of weeks ago when he took his first few tentative steps. I expected he’d be toddling around in a matter of days, but since then, he has demonstrated zero interest in walking independently! I’ve heard that children spend hundreds of hours learning to walk so maybe— like an Olympic athlete—he’s practicing mental imagery to enhance his ambulatory performance.

I’m sure my wife and I have done all the wrong things when it comes to helping Bennett learn to walk. To help promote the muscles necessary for walking, parents should provide plenty of “tummy time” for their newborns. Yet, during Bennett’s first few months, my wife and I had no idea what tummy time even was! These days, Bennett loves to reach up and hold onto our fingers as he charges around the house or CMEE. Some physical therapists have cautioned that walking your child this way encourages a forward base of support and can lead to early toe-walking.

While I’m looking forward to Bennett walking on his own (since it’s hard on the back to lean over constantly to support him) I keep reminding myself that he – like all children – is going to develop at his own speed. He’s already a month ahead of me. I didn’t take my first steps until I was 17 months old.


Steve Long

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