When Will My Baby Stand Up?
There's no doubt that standing up is one of the major physical milestones and a very exciting achievement. It's an opportunity for your little one to see the world from a completely different point of view and a significant step on the path to walking.
The Road To Standing Up
Some babies can appear to have the strength to almost stand when they are still tiny. Infants are born with certain in-built reflexes, such as the grip reflex when they grasp your finger tightly if placed in their palm, or the 'rooting' action. One of these innate actions will see most babies attempt to bounce on their feet when supported by their hands or under their arms. Once their feet touch a surface they will appear to try to walk by stepping one foot in front of the other. This isn't a conscious action and can be seen in babies up to around six to seven weeks at which time the reflex goes. This is because the infant's brain has become more neurologically developed. If you do try to witness this in your own baby, be aware that not all children enjoy this action, so do be sensitive to signals that your baby doesn't want to play.
Babies usually begin to attempt pulling themselves up to a standing position at around eight to ten months. If you find your baby whinges when they are standing it is probably because they don't yet understand how to sit back down! This is perfectly normal and will come in time but you will probably need to help them in the mean time. Watch out for bumped chins as they often fall down without moving back from furniture at this stage.
How You Can Encourage Standing Up
There are lots of ways to encourage your baby's growing ability to stand. From around eight months, your baby may enjoy being held by the hands whilst given an opportunity to 'walk' along with you - this is a great shared experience for both of you. You can also encourage standing by providing a low table with a selection of favourite toys to explore. Do ensure the table is stable though, as in the early stages of practice, they will use the table as support. Allowing your baby to spend time with other children who are already standing might also motivate them to have a go.
What To Watch Out For
Once they are standing your baby will see the world (quite literally) on a whole new level. This means you need to spend some time checking the surfaces in every room for objects within reach. Remove all objects that are small, or fragile or anything that they might be able to pull down on top of themselves.Also consider padding on corners of tables or anything that might be at head height. As with all milestones, another is just around the corner, so be wary that standing up against the furniture could lead very quickly to trying to climb up onto the furniture which are likely to lead to a fall.
What Comes Next?
Cruising the furniture will quickly build confidence in your baby and it won't be long until they are tempted to bridge a gap between furniture with their first steps. This does vary enormously from baby to baby though, as some children are very keen to try, whilst others find it so easy getting around by crawling, cruising or bottom shuffling that they don't feel any inclination to change in a hurry.
All babies develop at very different rates and if your baby hasn't reached the same milestones as other people's babies the chances are there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned that your child is very late in reaching one or a number of milestones then it is sensible to seek further professional advice from either your health visitor or GP. We have more information on the variable rates of development in babies here.