A week ago Friday, PK went from being able to walk while holding onto one of my hands, from being able to actually take a few steps on her own. I was so excited that I started crying (a good cry). I can't believe how grown up she is! I have to admit though, that I forced her to take some solo steps. I wanted to see if she could do it. The day we lowered her crib, she had taken two steps on her own, going the short distance from long end to long end on her crib. She did it quite by accident, and after that, we hadn't seen any action of the sort. So I decided a few weeks later that it was time to see if the solo walking across the crib was a fluke.
I put her standing just a half meter in front of me on her foam pads, and had her walk to me. She walked all right! She took four steps before flinging herself forward to me. I tried again, and again, and again. Sure enough, it was no fluke! She could actually take steps on her own. She seemed pretty excited about it too - she'd giggle as she stepped forward and stumbled into my arms. It was such a cute sight! I decided to take it up a notch by placing her in front of me, and slowly walking backwards (crouched) as she walked towards me. I think at one point I'd managed to get her to walk halfway across the room this way.
Over the next few days, most of her walking was still comprised of me holding her one hand, I'd noticed that her balance was SO much better. I was now able to stand relatively upright as I held her hand. And whereas before she'd want to reach over and try to grab my other hand for balance, she'd discovered that it was WAY cooler to hold an object in her free hand. We still practiced the solo walking. As her one-handed walking had indicated, her balance was much better. She even chose to sometimes take a couple of solo steps on her own when she was cruising in her room (i.e. holding onto objects to help her walk) to get in between say her crib and her dresser. At one point, as she held onto her exer-saucer, I beckoned her to come to me, and she took a couple of steps on her own to get to me. She really seemed to dig this.
There was just a little problem or two. The thing is, PK doesn't quite know how to fall backwards. It's strange, because she had started to learn how to do the sticking-out-her-butt-to-sit maneouver from standing at her crib. Last week, however, she'd started bending backwards, thereby tipping over. Most of the time, I'd catch her (believe me, we'd had quite a few close calls), but sometimes she'd wind up smacking her head (relatively lightly) on the hardwood floor. Ouch! Fortunately, she appears to have learned how to fall forward, and while that means that she ends up in a sitting position - which these days she doesn't really like - at least, it's a safe way to fall.
Anyway, the sudden realization that she could fall from standing made her painfully aware of the perils of walking. So all of a sudden, mid-last-week, PK decided that this solo walking thing wasn't really her bag. When I'd stand her up in front of me, she tended to stand there for a few seconds, and tip backwards. Or she'd stand for a few seconds, start lightly tapping her face (we call this the "oh my goodness" move), buzz her lips out of nervousness, and take a couple of uncertain steps before flinging herself over to me.
Of course I was a bit worried. This seemed to be a regression of sorts. She went from taking many solo steps to not wanting to take them at all. But wanting is the operative word here. She finally became aware of her ability to walk on her own. She realized how much was involved. She realized its perils. She realized that, "hey, it's not time yet". So it was back to the drawing board. How would I get her to start walking on her own again?
I continued to try to stand her up in front of me to get her to walk to me, but most times she wound up crying and fell back. So I decided to work on her balance - walk with her by holding onto the one hand, as lightly as possible. This helped a ton. I also tried to sneak in some solo standing here and there, by distracting her with an object to hold onto. While she held a coveted object, she was completely unaware of the fact that she was standing on her own, and even took a few steps while holding onto the object. The more she got comfortable with this idea, the more she got comfortable with solo walking.
As of today, PK is yet walking halfway across the room anymore, but her steps are more deliberate and more controlled, as is her standing. I'm hoping that she walks on her own by her first birthday, but you never know. Kids seem to be unpredictable! My mom tells me that I could walk no problem before I was one, but I could only walk if she lightly grabbed onto my pinky. As soon as she let go, I'd freak out and fall. It took me four months to get over this fear. Who knows if the same will happen to PK, or if she'll get over that fear a little sooner than it did.