Q&A: early walker scares mother

I'd like to thank all the teachers out there who did projects with their classes for Mothers' Day. Single moms with kids too young to come up with and make or buy their own projects don't get anything else for Mothers' Day. So thank you.

Lydia writes:

"Gah! My 8-month-old is starting to walk. She's a total daredevil, and has no control or judgement. I'm terrified that she's going to fall and get a serious head injury, and am seriously considering buying her a helmet. But then I think that's insane. I need some perspective. Help!"

Let me begin with one of my mom's favorite aphorisms:

"God couldn't make them so fast and us so slow if he didn't also make their heads so hard."

Assuming that you've babyproofed all the truly dangerous things, and that you don't let her walk around in dangerous terrain outside, she's going to find her own level. Which isn't to say that she won't fall. But if she's being monitored appropriately (which doesn't mean you have to hover--just pay attention) she won't get hurt more than her size can take. So she'll get bumps and bruises and scrapes and cuts, but nothing that would require protection from a helmet.

If you think about it, letting her find her own balance and what she can and can't do now, instead of when she's really big and can get into lots of trouble, is going to mean fewer injuries later. Plus, it'll give her confidence in what her body can do, and let her know that you trust her to be able to do what she sets out to do. So letting her learn and walk the way she needs to (helmet-free) is a gift you can give her that'll set her up for confidence and physical accomplishment for the rest of her life.

Did anyone else have an early walker? How did you deal with the lack of judgment at that age? How long until your child was smooth and graceful?