The Cost of Crawling to Walking

Babies learn to walk at their own pace—but you can buy a lot of gadgets and gizmos to help encourage them.

When my son walked for the first time, I welled up like a big old hairy baby. He took those first steps and suddenly he held the keys to the world. “Oh, the adventures those pudgy little feet will have,” I thought as I wiped away my tears. Then I thought, “those Clarks shoes are going to be expensive.”

But before that big day came a lot of big-ticket purchases. Here are the gadgets and gizmos we bought to help encourage our little one to take his first big step:

The baby door bouncer

I bought my baby door bouncer from a guy at work, hoping that Sid would soon be hopping up and down like a gleeful frog in our living room doorway.

The first time I installed the bouncer I miscalculated—though at the time I “blamed the manual”—causing the bouncer to ping off the door frame and hit me in the side of the head. It did hurt my cranium, but it hurt my pride even more. Also, it chipped the door frame so I had to spend around £12 ($16) filling and touching it up.

Sid took to the bouncer instantly, smiling and chanting gobbledegook as his chubby little legs propelled him into the air and back down again. Sid enjoyed the bouncer for months and it certainly helped his start his transition from walking to crawling. A £30 ($38) well spent.

The baby walker

We bought our baby walker brand-new for £60 (£77), believing it would be the key to Sid’s walking success. It wasn’t. He didn’t care about it. Well, not for its intended purpose, anyway.

When I propped Sid up so he could hold onto the front of the walker, he would hit the plastic play balls, chuckling in the process. But if I put him in the walker he either cried, looked at me with an expression as vacant as could be, or tested out kind of a weird moonwalk, backing himself into the corner of the room like a hermit crab heading home after a hard day’s plankton hunting.

Sid didn’t take to his walker, so essentially it was a waste of money—although he did enjoy the plastic balls and it helped him practice pulling himself onto his feet from sitting. Maybe it did provide some value.

Cruising shoes

When Sid progressed to pulling himself up on things, and then to cruising along the sofa, the wall, the tables and chairs, my head and shoulders, and pretty much anything he could use as a prop, we decided to get him some cruiser shoes. The idea was to give Sid more confidence on his feet while giving his ankles some support—but we also bought them because they looked cool. Like the kind of shoes Buzz Lightyear might wear on his days off.

The cruiser shoes set my wife and I back £15 ($19) and, in terms of a walking aid, they lasted around the same number of minutes. Every time I put them on Sid’s feet, he cast me his legendary frosty, frowny stare — then proceeded to kick his cool new shoes across the room at great velocity. In the end, I came to the conclusion that being bare foot around the house gave him more confidence, helping him to take those clumsy first independent steps.

Clarks shoes

I know you don’t have to buy your child Clarks shoes, but here in the U.K. it’s a popular choice due to its longstanding track record in infant footwear.

When I realized I would be paying £40 ($51) for the smallest pair of shoes I’d ever purchased, it made my eyes water a little—but I took Sidney into the shop feeling both excitement and pride, chose his first ever big-boys shoes and looked on as he toddled around the shop as excited as I was. He even ran up to the wall mirror and kissed his reflection, creating a chorus of laughter on the shop floor. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Magic.

Sid loves his Clarks and he loves walking, and jumping, and skipping and running. He looks a bit drunk when he walks on occasion, but that’s all part of the fun. The cost of Sid taking the leap from crawling to walking cost me around £157 ($203), but seeing him grow, develop, and thrive has been priceless.

You can buy all the child walking aids in the world, and some of them are great, but a baby will still take those first steps at their own pace — and once they do, the adventures they have will be endless.

Dan Hughes is a writer with a penchant for oddball fiction, the bass guitar, beer, Bukowski and traveling to strange places. You can find out more about him by getting lost in his Catchy Space.

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