When our infant began standing a couple months ago, I learned something. If I “helped” him by holding him or steadying him every time he tried to pull himself up to stand (leaning against something) or maneuver while standing, he didn’t seem to learn that certain movements would make him lose his balance or topple over. He could not sense his own center of gravity shifting and the effects of that shift when I was holding onto him. So I stopped holding/steadying him completely. Now, I certainly wouldn’t let him fall and get hurt, but I do let him wobble and fall…to a soft landing. The only way he can learn is to experience the feelings of being off-balance, the consequences of being off-balance, and how to compensate and come back into balance. He can’t learn that when I steady him.
Now his balance is pretty amazing for a 10-month old. Well, not that I have more than a single data point, but you can see him easily able to avoid getting off-balance or correct some seemingly hairy off-balance situations. For instance, he can climb into and out of a plastic storage crate fairly easily without falling down or tipping over the crate. But it didn’t just happen like that. I had to let him learn that if he stood up and leaned against the edge of the crate, he was going over (with Dad’s hands keeping his head from bashing into the floor upon landing). Now he never tips the bin and keeps his center of gravity low when standing up and movng around in the crate, or going into or out of it. It’s pretty amazing to watch, actually.