If you had told me years ago that my baby would start walking — and then almost immediately running — at 9 months old, I would have laughed in your face.
The only thing I knew about when babies take their first steps was the story my parents always told about me, which was that I didn’t really walk till I was 18 months old. I crawled for the longest time, and then, even when I could walk, I refused to let go of furniture, walls, or my parents’ hands. There was nothing physically wrong with me — I walk just fine now — but I have always had a cautious personality, and it was evident even then.
My first son reached his milestones at exactly the ages the books predicted (he is still a perfectionist at heart, so it makes sense that he’d want to do everything on time and by the book). But my second son practically came out of the womb walking.
He had a big brother to keep up with, and I swear he started army crawling at just a few weeks old. By 4 months, he was getting up on all fours, rocking back and forth. At 5 months old, he was speed-crawling all around the house. His first food was dirt from the bottom of the welcome mat because he’d gotten there before I could find him.
Still, I was in total shock when he started pulling himself up onto the coffee table at 6 months, cruising around the furniture like a bandit at 7 months, and standing up on his own two feet at 8 months. I seriously thought it was all a fluke.
Here are the thoughts that went through my head when it finally dawned on me that my tiny little infant was about to take off on his own two feet:
No freaking way.
The first stage of having an early walking is absolute denial. Looking back, you realize that, of course, it was coming, but in the moment, you just don’t want to believe that your squishy little bundle of baby love is going to take off without you.
Oh shit, our house is a death trap.
Once it happens, you realize that you must do some further babyproofing, pronto. Crawlers can’t reach nearly as many dangerous places as walkers can. And after walking comes the most terrifying stage of all: climbing. You better lock up your house. Climbing babies are insane.
Okay, I’m never leaving the house again.
Early walkers usually have pretty tenacious personalities and want to work on their newfound skills at every available opportunity. Going out on errands can turn into a real pain in the ass. No, sweet baby, you can’t walk around barefoot at the grocery store. And I’m definitely not letting you out of my arms at the doctor’s office just so you can run up to a snotty toddler and bury your face in her hair. Oy.
Will you please stop talking about it?
Your kid’s early walking will be the topic of every conversation, and everyone will have an opinion about what it means. Sorry, but it doesn’t help to say, “Oh, you’ve got your hands full!” or “You will never be able to take your eyes off him again.” Thanks, I think I know all that. Don’t rub it in.
What to put on those teensy little feet?
I thought I could get away with baby socks and booties for much longer than I could, but the kid wanted to walk everywhere, so booties just weren’t going to cut it. We had to go baby shoe shopping immediately (which wasn’t an awful thing, because baby shoes are so stinkin’ cute!).
My baby is amazing! He’s got superpowers!
Once it’s all said and done, you can’t help but gloat a little. I mean, your baby most certainly must be a genius — either that, or an alien from another planet.
Where did my baby go? I want my baby back!
The whole early walking thing can definitely break your heart. You feel like your baby is growing up way too soon, and you want your baby to stay small, innocent, and still as long as humanly possible. Luckily, you soon learn that even early walkers need their mommies just as much as other babies.
My baby is a hazard to all the other babies he meets.
You soon notice that your chunky-legged walking infant is a basically a monster compared to other babies — a Chucky doll brought to life. You try to warn the other mothers that their babies will probably to stepped on, climbed on, and the like, but there’s only so much you can do, really.
Oh, he’s just a completely normal kid who happened to walk early.
In a few months, all the other babies your kid’s age will catch up. Everyone is walking, and you’re not the odd one out anymore. Whew.
A few years down the line, you realize the milestone didn’t really mean as much as you thought it might. It was the shock more than anything that was notable.
However, I do think there is something to be said for the personality of an early walker. Reaching milestones like walking aren’t just about physical readiness (though this obviously comes into play too), but are indicative of a certain personality.
My early walker had a bit of a spunky personality as a baby, and that spunk lives on to this day. Even at 4 years old, he’s a little more impetuous than most kids. When we’re out, I need to keep about 40 eyes on him at once because he has been known to wander away from me.
He loves to explore, and while that can sometimes scare the living daylights out of me, it’s definitely a positive personality trait. It means he’s creative, inquisitive, and willing to take risks and try new things, all of which are really awesome (when they’re not giving you a heart attack).
I think above all, the thing to remember with milestones is that no matter when your kid does something — early or late — it’s not going to matter as much in the end as you think it will at the time. But I think all of us parents of early walkers will always remember the shock, awe, and slight punch in the gut of watching our tiny babies take off zooming much earlier than we expected them to.