Have you ever noticed that sometimes while holding a newborn under her arms directly over a flat, hard surface she may start lifting her leg one at a time as if trying to walk? The Stepping Reflex is one of the lesser known reflexes that mother nature equips our babies with, but it usually disappears after two months. Babies usually don’t gain this stepping motion back until they’re learning to walk. Why is that?
One theory states that as babies grow heavier, their leg muscles have not yet built up enough strength to pull their legs up. In fact, research studies have shown that when their legs are submerged in water, in a buoyant and more gravity free environment, they start kicking and attempting to walk again. Consistently, exercising the baby’s stepping movements often seems to lead to early walking.
So grab an Otteroo floatie and find a deep tub or shallow pool to see if your baby will be doing her "walk" in the gravity-reduced environment of water. A bonus?! An extra long nap and a good appetite after her fun "exercising" session as reported by many of our Otteroo moms and dads!
Adolph, K. (2002). Babies’ steps make giant strides toward a science of development. Infant Behavior & Development, 25, 86-90.
Sielger, R., DeLoache, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). How Children Develop (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Worth.
Thelen, E., & Fisher, D. (1982). Newborn Stepping: An Explanation for a Disappearing’ Reflex. Developmental Psychology, 18, 760-755.
Zelazo, P. R., Zelazo, N. A., & Kolb, S. (1972). Walking in the Newborn. Science, 176, 314-315.