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Mary Jane Grenzow: Raising children step by step
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It crossed my mind the other day that I may be lugging my baby around for quite a few years yet.

Christi is just a week away from 15 months and still hasn't taken her first steps. She looks like a toddler, not a baby, but I can't quite call her that yet: As much as she acts like a toddler, she won't walk.

She crawls, she walks across the floor on her knees, she cruises holding onto furniture, she even stands unassisted for a split-second before falling - thump - on her diaper-clad behind.

But no walking.

A few years ago, I would have been in a panic. I would have been doing endless research online, trying to determine if Christi had some sort of major developmental delay or a serious physical impairment. I would have been checking out the bulletin boards at and Googling "baby's first step." I would have been comparing checklists of average milestones trying to determine how Christi measured up.

My husband John was noticeably anxious when our oldest daughter hadn't taken her first step by her first birthday. He worked with Elizabeth every day, holding her hands as he "walked" her across the living room. He talked and worried about it a lot - so much that I too began fretting that our baby should be walking.

And then, about six weeks after she turned 1, Elizabeth started walking. Whew. Crisis averted.

Middle daughter Sally, of course, was walking at 10 months. There was no assistance, no fanfare. She just walked. I hardly had time to get the camcorder out.

But Christi is the third child. I hardly look at the child development Web sites anymore. The stack of baby books that I keep bedside, a holdover from Elizabeth's era, is gathering dust from lack of consultation.

Even John has been pretty quiet about Christi's nonwalking. Sure, every day or so, I or John or Elizabeth holds Christi's plump little arms up and tries to get her to take a step. But she just sits herself down and beams that angelic smile at us.

She's perfect and we know it. It's much nicer this way. Much less stressful. Much less manic.

Still, in the name of journalistic thoroughness, I thought I better do a quick check online just to be sure. Googling "baby's first step," the first match was an article from, a Web site that upon a cursory search appears to contain legitimate advice.

This is what it said:

"Former family clinic supervisor at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Ruth McCamus, assures us that when it comes to walking, every baby is unique. 'On average a child will begin walking at age of 12 or 14 months but considerable differences are likely. Some children begin walking much earlier and some as late as 21 months.

"While we can't speed up a baby's first step, there are things that may hold a child back, explains McCamus. 'Sometimes if a baby is a very proficient crawler or roller he may be happy with this form of mobility for some time.'"

Of course. When she wants to get somewhere, Christi knows she can merely stretch her plump little arms up to Mom and catch a free ride. And if Mom has her hands full and can't pick her up, she can get around on her knees. (Much to the amazement of other adults who have witnessed her knee-walking.)

So we'll wait with her. Having been down this road before, I know how quickly a first step turns into walking and into running and into riding a bike without training wheels. I'm in no hurry.

And I also can stop worrying about parental competitions and comparisons of how amazingly advanced their children are. I lose, and I can live with that.

In a way I actually win: I get to carry my baby in my arms a little bit longer.

- Mary Jane Grenzow is features editor for The Monroe Times. She can be reached at