Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Waiting for Your Preemie to Walk

“Wait!” and then, “no, this way!” is all I seem to be yelling now once my son and I are out the door in the morning. I am trying to rush him to the car, but, as is the case with most toddlers, he has a mind of his own. He almost always heads for the yard instead of the car. “Stick!” he will proudly exclaim, holding said object and waving it around proudly. I must admit I have to try very hard to stop myself from yelling “hurry up! we’re late” even though I am almost always running late. When you’ve waited this long for your child to walk, you really can’t bring yourself to tell them to “hurry up,” can you? I mean, did you ever imagine the day you’d be telling him to “hurry up”?

While I did long for that day, I also began to worry when my former 29-weeker was not walking by the age of 2. He had an MRI done earlier on that had ruled out any brain abnormalities and, yet, none of the specialists who evaluated him could specify why my preemie was not walking. It was not until a few months before his 3rd birthday that he did start walking on his own.

walkingThis very important milestone was met with many cheers, and tears, by his therapists and daycare teachers. I not only cried tears of relief, but also cried some tears of resentment, because I was not there to witness his first steps in person. I was at work and he was at daycare. Just as I always knew it would be!  However, thanks to an extremely thoughtful daycare teacher, I do have a video of him walking for the first time that she recorded. Although, not quite the same as witnessing him walk in-person, it was almost as awesome to open my email at work and see the video. And for a little while this video became the only proof we had that my son was indeed walking independently since that little stinker would not walk for us at home right away!

I do think my preemie walked first, and continued to walk mostly, at daycare because he was really motivated by his toddler friends. He has one friend in particular, a stocky little guy, who would hold my son’s hand and help him balance whenever they needed to walk somewhere. It wasn’t long before my son let go and was walking on his own!

Therefore, if you’re the parent of a preemie who is not walking yet, please, do not be discouraged! I know, easier said than done, right? My hope in sharing my preemie’s story is so you don’t feel as though your preemie is the only one who is either not walking yet, or not talking yet. Or maybe your preemie is not crawling yet. My little guy did not crawl or sit up on his own until he was 16-months old. Once again, we all must remind ourselves that every child is different and they all do things in their own time.

We also should remind ourselves that there is a blessing in waiting. What that blessing is for me is learning patience. And taking time to stop and…pick up some sticks!

Beth Puskas About Beth Puskas

Beth Puskas (NY) is a children's librarian and has one child, Benjamin, born by emergency c-section at 29-weeks after Beth developed severe preeclampsia in 2013. Ben also was born with a cleft lip and palate. He came home after a 68-day stay in the NICU and spent the next year having his cleft lip and palate repaired. Despite a global developmental delay, Ben is a thriving, happy, toddler who loves to laugh. Beth hopes to use her experience to help other families.

Comments

  1. Beth Cornett says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your preemie’s story! it is very encouraging for me! My 24 weeker surviving twin turned 2 in October. He receives play, physical and speech therapy. He is sitting up in his own but is not crawling or walking. He’s not talking much either. Once again your article is so encouraging!

    • Hi Beth, I am glad you found my post helpful! I have to say I am also encouraged (at least once a day) by the stories of micro-preemies like your’s and their strong mama’s. Thank you for writing!!!
      -Beth Puskas

  2. Thanks for your story. My son is 31 months old and still not walking. Like your child, there is no diagnosis or brain injury. He looks close to walking but it’s all in his time. He started sitting up on his own after his 2nd birthday. It has been an amazing journey hasn’t it?!

  3. Good day all
    My baby boy is 10months old, born at 32 weeks. He is absolutely healthy and growing so big after weighing only 1.1kg at birth and dropping weight whilst in hosp. Doctors are telling us that he might be physically slow and we should be prepared for this. I do see that it seems like his mentally is so fast that he wants to do everything at his age but his body does not yet allow him to do those things and he gets frustrated. He can sit on his own, tries to walk and crawl and he keeps his own bottle and can say a few words already, like MAMA,DADA,BABA.
    I am his mother and I can see that my child is smart and very bright as I observe this everyday. I have no doubt that my boy is healthy and very much hyperactive but very sweet. For his age is is very smart. I tend to take what doctors say seriously but what I see when looking at my boy is not what they are telling me and this is not just because he is my baby but the whole family, friends and even people that meet him for the first time says he is a very fast learner.

  4. My 26-weeker started walking right before her second birthday, and now that she’s 7.5 years old, I rarely think about her delays any more. It’s amazing how hard they work to catch up with their friends, isn’t it?

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