Between 8-10 months, babies will probably start trying to pull themselves up to stand whilst holding on to furniture. The first place they normally master this is in their cot. Parents often worry that their baby is locking their knees when they first start attempting to stand. This is normal to begin with as they don’t initially have the knee stability needed, so locking their legs allows them to maintain the position. As your baby’s leg muscles get stronger they will be able to control their knees and will no longer do this. Babies will also sometimes curl their toes or claw with them to keep their balance initially. Again this should improve with age as their stability develops. Other common observations are that they may bear weight on their heels and lift up their toes, or they may do the opposite and go onto tiptoes to gain stability.
Here are some simple things to help increase your baby’s leg strength:
1. Kneel on the floor with your baby sitting on your knees in front of a piece of furniture. Encourage them to pull themselves up in order to reach for toys placed on top of furniture. You can help them by supporting them at their hips. Encourage them to go up and down several times and try to reduce the amount of support with time.
2. When your child is standing whilst holding onto furniture, place toys in a box next to them so that they have to bend their knees slightly to reach. Eventually as their knee control improves, place the toys on the floor.
3. Place toys just out of reach on top of furniture so that they’re encouraged to go onto tip toes to reach them.
4. If your child is rolling inwards on their ankles whilst standing, try putting stickers on the bottom of their feet, sit them on a box and encourage them to turn their foot inwards to pick off the stickers.
5. To encourage the development of foot muscles, put different textured dry food into sandwich boxes and put their feet in them. Pasta twirls, beans, rice and shaving foam all work well as your baby will start to move their feet to explore the unusual sensations.
If you’re concerned that your child’s leg muscles aren’t developing or if you notice that they are hyper extending at the knees (so their knees are bent backwards) or if they are rolling over on their ankles, they may have a degree of hypermobility in their joints or low muscle tone. It could also be a sign of another underlying condition and a physiotherapist can give you their expert opinion on the cause and provide you with some exercises to help. Contact us today if you’re concerned about your child’s development on 020 7884 0374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.