Q. My 18-month-old daughter is not walking while all other children of her age are already on their feet. Should I be concerned?
A. When it comes to milestones, it doesn’t get much bigger that your child’s first steps. But while some children are walking before the age of one, others are still crawling around until they are nearly two. When all your child’s little friends are up on their feet while yours is still on all fours, you can start to question why your child is different and whether there a reason why she is not walking. Believe me, I know. My daughter was still shuffling around on her bottom – a kind of Yogic Flying move (which is pretty impressive when you think about it) until she was nearly 19 months. The reality is that all children are different and they develop at different speeds. During their first year, they are busy developing co-ordination and muscle strength in every part of their body, learning to sit, roll over, crawl and pull up to standing. Then, it’s a matter of gaining confidence and balance. Most babies take their first steps sometime between nine and 12 months and are walking well by the time they’re 14 or 15 months old. However, perfectly normal children don’t walk until they’re 18 months old. Trust me, there has been no stopping my daughter since she finally got on her feet (although she can no longer do the Yogic Flying move!). My hunch is, for her, there were too many other interesting things to do and walking slipped down her list. Most late walkers are just taking their time (premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than their peers). But the medical advice is if your child doesn’t stand with support at 12 months, can’t walk at 18 months, or isn’t able to walk steadily at the age of two, take her to the doctor to get checked out.
Q. My son is a poor sleeper and my husband and I think bringing him into bed with us will help. What’s the advice on sleeping with
A. When your baby doesn’t sleep well and you are trying to function on just a few short hours rest a night, you’ll consider anything to try to get a good night’s sleep. After all sleep deprivation is a form of torture! However, the medical advice is to avoid sleeping in the same bed as your baby because there is a danger that the baby could get crushed or over-heat. According to the charity The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in your bedroom for the first six months after they are born. Studies have shown there is a risk in bedsharing if you or your partner smoke, have been drinking alcohol, take drugs or medication that make you drowsy, had little sleep or if your baby was born premature or was small at birth. If your baby does come into your bed, they should be covered with lightweight blankets and their head should remain uncovered. It seems unlikely but accidents can happen and, for this reason, FSID advises parents never to sleep with their baby on a sofa or armchair. I know parents are divided on this issue. Some would never dream of having their children in their bed while, for others, it seems like the most natural thing. It’s a tricky one – and it’s worth considering the impact it will have on the relationship with your partner - but the most important consideration has got to be your child’s safety.
By Elizabeth Jeffries