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When is the best time to introduce your baby to stairs?

Confidence and self-esteem are developed from the beginning of life through the repeated positive experiences a child has. Once a child is on the move they are naturally drawn to the challenge of stairs and so by introducing your child to stairs gradually from this time, you will be conveying the message:

"You can do it!"

1. Start with 1 - 3 Steps.

  • Clothing: Ideally dress your baby in loose fitting clothes that do not restrict movement.

  • Senses: Since the skin is the largest sense organ it is helpful to have their knees and feet uncovered.

HINT: Stand or sit at a distance that enables you

to assist appropriately if required.

2. Allow time for exploration at the child's pace.

  • Model the skill - If a child is reluctant you can demonstrate by climbing up the steps on your hands and knees or getting an older child to do so.

  • Separate language and movement - Talk before and after but not during the demonstration. Babies are developing coordinated movement and language so they will focus on either one or the other at a moment in time.

  • Instruct with minimal language - " Leg up"; "Hands on step"; "Look"; "Watch me".

  • Time - The best time to introduce stairs is when your baby is showing interest.

HINT: Resist the urge to encourage verbally as

this does distract the baby from the task.

"The freedom to move in the first year has a huge impact on the developing personality!"

3. Direct attention to the top of stairs.

  • Use a sound (e.g. your voice, tapping the stair, a rattle or shaker) to entice your baby to climb.

  • Place the object at a safe distance from the edge of the stairs to encourage your baby to keep moving away from steps edge before sitting up.

4. Stand back and wait.

  • A baby takes time to decide to move and sometimes any attempt to verbally encourage distracts him from the task.

  • Give them some time before stepping in to correct any errors, unless they are looking to you for support or get distressed. Children can master activities in a shorter amount of time by resolving the problem themselves.

HINT: Resist the urge to step in to assist too quickly

when errors occur.

5. Observe the Joy of accomplishment.

The first thing to notice, and most important probably, when you watch the video is the joyful sounds this baby is making as he tackles a task that is quite obviously a challenge for him. Then, even as he succeeds he does not look to the adults around him for applause because his sense of achievement is intrinsic. This is a huge lesson for us as parents and educators... that when self-motivated a child does not require or seek approval from us because he is truly satisfied with himself!!

"Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed....."

Dr Maria Montessori


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