After months of floor time, your baby might seek a higher view. Learning how to pull himself up will allow him to scope out his surroundings at a different altitude and practice those tentative first steps. "At 10 months, they want to see what's on the tabletop; they want to see what's on the chair," says Thomas M. Seman, M.D., a pediatrician and president of North Shore Pediatrics in the Boston area. "They're geared much more toward exploring and motor activity."
What to Expect in the 10th Month
"Many 10-month-old babies are crawling proficiently, and some are gaining the skill of pulling up into a standing position," says Anne Zachry, Ph.D., a pediatric occupational therapist and instructor at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. "Babies at this age may stand while holding onto a piece of furniture, and they may even take several steps forward while still holding on." You might also see your child adopt an elephant crawl, with his butt in the air and knees off the ground.
Some children at this age may be able to stand independently or take a few steps alone. But don't freak out if your baby doesn't seem ready to let go of your hands or the coffee table just yet. All babies develop at different rates, and yours will reach these milestones when he's developmentally ready.
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Your baby might also start to take a two-handed approach to exploring the world. "At 9 months, they're using one hand to manipulate," Dr. Seman says. "At 10 months, they're pulling things apart, using one hand to open with the other hand to steady themselves."
Mealtime can be fun, as babies use their newfound dexterity to feed themselves finger food. But be warned: “Babies this age frequently enjoy dropping objects from their high chair and watching you retrieve them," Dr. Zachry says. And don’t worry if your child suddenly seems less interested in solid foods at meal times; she probably has an ulterior motive. "It's quicker to drink from a bottle, and they can get down and start moving again," Dr. Seman says.
How to Help Baby Development
If you haven't already, babyproof everything in sight—place covers on outlets, put baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs, and anchor heavy furniture to the wall. Then relax and let your little one explore. "Provide plenty of opportunities for Baby to move about the environment safely," Dr. Zachry says. "Exploring the environment freely plays an important role in the developmental process."
When your baby is cruising along furniture, see if you can tempt him with an interesting toy, Dr. Zachry suggests. "He may let go for a few seconds and reach for the toy," she says. "This is great for his balance skills."
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Babies this age often love toys with which they can make something happen, such as pushing a button or turning a dial to get something to pop up, Dr. Seman says. But nurturing your baby's development doesn't require a lot of fancy toys or gadgets—just provide an interesting environment. "Always give them different things, even if it's the crinkly packaging from opening a box, so they can feel it, they can touch it, and they can make the noise," Dr. Seman says. "They learn through experience." It can be as simple as letting your baby feel the difference between cardboard and the paper board from a cereal box.