I finished work for the Christmas holidays on the 21st December. Aside from the upcoming festivities of Christmas itself, the 22nd December looked like being a day like any other. Until something unexpected happened...
On my first day off, I was sat on the carpet with my 8 month (and 1 day) old daughter Lydia, trying to get her to play with one of her many, many toys. Christelle was sitting on the sofa next to us, and we both watched as Lydia propped herself up on her hands and knees and did her familiar bobbing motion. She had been doing this for a couple of weeks now, but would always end up rolling onto her back (and then usually giving out a cry of frustration). She couldn't seem to master the coordination required to actually move herself forwards.
So, we sat and watched as she continued bobbing on her hands and knees, expecting her to get annoyed at any moment. What we didn't expect, however, was to see her suddenly crawl several steps forward and reach out to grab the Christmas tree. Christelle and I looked at each other in surprise, both unsure if what we had just witnessed had really happened.
We quickly congratulated Lydia and then tried to encourage her to do it again. To our continued amazement, she crawled again. Tears of joy and pride welled up in both our eyes. Our little girl had worked out how to move around, all by herself.
I know every child goes through this step in their development, but to us it was a monumental moment for our little baby. It is something that is truly amazing - to us, moving around on your hands and knees is a simple task, only needing to move your hands and legs at the right time. To a baby, however, it must be an incredibly complex movement. The coordination needed to move your hands and legs in such as way as to achieve forward motion must seem like rocket science to a baby, yet they manage to figure it out all on their own. Throw into that the fact that the baby has to also work out how to maintain their balance whilst attempting to move and it really becomes a remarkable feat for them to achieve.
Of course, babies are very fast learners. As soon as they have worked out how to do something once, they will continue doing it. That's exactly what Lydia has done - since she first crawled on the 22nd December, there's no stopping her. She has even managed to overcome the obstacle of attempting to move around on a shiny hardwood floor instead of a carpet, the challenge of stopping her legs from sliding back and ending up on her stomach, preventing her from crawling.
It's hasn't even been two weeks since she first crawled, but Lydia has already worked out how to pull herself up into a standing position using either my legs or a convenient piece of furniture. I went to get her out of bed after her morning nap the other day and was surprised to find her standing up in bed hanging on to the side. She has always had a lot of strength for a baby, so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised to see her now putting those muscles to use.
My current thinking is that it won't take Lydia long to work out how to walk as well. If we walk her around the room now, she moves her legs in the correct motion all by herself. She only needs to sort out the issue of balancing on her own two legs and she will be off. I think this will happen around her 1st birthday in April, just in time for my family (who are all coming over for her birthday weekend) to see her taking some of her first steps.
That would be fantastic - Lydia has such a curious nature and seems interested in everything around her, so I think finally being able to move around on her own volition will make her much happier and hopefully less frustrated.
Although, in fairness, it'll probably mean she will bang her head more often, so we'll have to keep a close eye on our little explorer.