Once your baby learns to stand, she's on the fast track to independence -- but she'll still need help from you to feel secure on her feet. The best way to prepare her is through playtime, says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D., editor of The Wonder Years, a guide to developmental milestones. Put her near a sturdy couch so she can pull herself up, and whenever she's sitting on your lap, lift her a little and let her bear some of her weight on her own legs. (Never put your tot in a wheeled walker -- children can fall down the stairs in them. And while stationary play centers are safer, the American Academy of Pediatrics says they probably don't help babies learn to walk.)
Anytime after your child sits on her own she may pull to a stand, so step up your babyproofing. Cover sharp corners on toddler-level surfaces and secure heavy items, like bookcases, that could tip. Don't forget the crib, too. Guard against nighttime spills by making sure the sides are locked in place and the mattress is on the lowest setting.
No matter how many precautions you take, though, your little one's bound to lose her footing and take a tumble from time to time. The good news is that most kids who fall from a standing position land on their well-padded rears, so serious injuries are rare. Still, cover any particularly hard floors with play mats, and stand by with plenty of boo-boo kisses.