Arya’s new favorite activity is to walk around the entire house using furniture to support herself. This type of supported walking, called cruising, is a normal part of baby development.
Her developmental timeline lead me to wonder: when do babies cruise?
The term “cruise” or “cruising” has a specific meaning to parents. While the normal definition involves ships, the definition of cruising for babies means to walk using objects as support.
Cruising is generally seen as an intermediate step between standing upright with support and full walking without support. Since physical development timelines are different for each baby, pediatricians rely on a range to identify normal development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics cites 8-months to 12-months as the normal range for a baby to begin cruising since cruising develops just before walking. However the organization also notes that it is not unusual for some babies to delay walking until past their first birthday.
Academic researchers use cruising as a standard test of physical development. While the specific age at which a baby cruises is not sufficient to draw any meaningful conclusions, inability to cruise (when coupled with other risk factors) can be seen as an indicator of a developmental problem.
In our case, Arya learned to cruise within a few days of pulling herself upright into a supported standing position. But even though she was physically able to cruise, she still preferred to crawl for several weeks. Since Arya was still unstable balancing on her feet she would occasionally lean too far and tumble off balance while trying to cruise.
It took weeks for her to develop sufficient balance and coordination to be able to switch between cruising and crawling depending on the availability of supporting objects.
Now, as when I took her to the baby play area at the shopping mall, Arya can switch easily between cruising and crawling depending on access to furniture, the presence of obstacles, and her desire.