Roll, sit, stand, walk... that’s the normal sequence right?
Well that’s the basic version yes, but perhaps there is another key skill to include in that list... ‘cruising’!
And Cruising is... what?
Cruising is when a baby steps sideways in standing while holding onto a solid surface (think couch, coffee table, cot, verandah balustrades, fencing etc).
Often the skill of cruising is seen as nothing more than an oddity that occurs before walking. In the average conversation between parents, it's often covered up by the 'not yet walking' type of comments. It's definitely not a skill we celebrate as enthusiastically as sitting, crawling or walking... but perhaps it should be!
From a research point of view, it is now understood that cruising is more then just walking practice and arguably is significant enough to be considered its own key form of movement! (1.)
It's not just 'pre-walking'!
Interestingly in many ways cruising might be more similar to crawling then it is to walking! Cruising requires a baby to coordinate both arms and legs and a baby's balance in this position is more dependent on their ability to hold on with their arms rather than their skill in foot/leg placement and control.
Cruising is a great way for your baby to interact with the world in a new upright way where they can reach, interact, explore and fall as they get better at overcoming gravity and developing skills that will lead towards walking.
Waiting for walking?
Lots of parents reach a point where they aren’t quite sure what to do next when their baby is not yet walking. They are good at sitting and crawling/creeping so what can they do to help!?
One great thing to do is to set up for and encourage cruising!
Step 1: Set up the environment...
Find solid objects that have good grasp points or surfaces somewhere between your baby's belly button and arm pits.
Now move these objects to areas you commonly play with your bub!
Step 2: Find exciting things for your baby to do in standing!
What is your baby very excited about that they will follow up into standing? Look for opportunities to place toys on those higher surfaces
Step 3: Help your baby practice and give them lots of positive attention!
Engaging with babies is a wonderful motivator! Smile, cheer, talk and have fun!
Step 4: Protect against ‘big’ falls but allow ‘little’ mistakes.
Giving your baby enough room to make errors is key, but avoiding head bumps and face plants is also good. It’s a tricky balance to find!
Now cruising isn’t a simple guarantee that walking is around the corner and it shouldn't be seen that way... but it is a great position for your baby to learn and cruising along with other skills will put your baby in good stead to progress to walking soon!!!
Many thanks for reading,
B.Phty (Hons), G.D. Paed. Neuro. Rehab.
Tim has 10 years of Physiotherapy experience and is experienced in Paediatric (Baby’s and Children’s) Physiotherapy.
Tim is co-owner and director of The Movement Team. Tim also holds an Advanced Physiotherapist position within a Child Development Service in the public health sector.
Tim has worked across the breadth of paediatric health (acute hospital, disability care, developmental, community and private clinics) and has completed numerous national and internationally recognised education courses in topics including developmental orthopaedics, high risk infant management, respiratory functioning and infant movement.
Tim's formal training consists of:
Bachelor Physiotherapy (Hons) - University of Queensland
Graduate Diploma Paediatric Neurological Rehabilitation - University of Western Australia
Tim additionally holds the following positions and memberships:
Chairperson of the Queensland Paediatric Physiotherapy Clinical Network 2013 - 2016
Child Development Service Team Leader - 2016/2017.
Australian Physiotherapy Association Member
Please note that the clinical information included in this article is of a general nature and might not apply to every family. Please see your local health professional for individualised developmental advice.