A lot of children start to walk between 10 and 18 months of age. Before they start to walk fully, they go through crawling and pulling up to stand. All babies develop at different paces. You need to encourage your baby to get him or her confident in walking. In this article, we take a look at some of the ways you can help your baby learn to walk.
31 Ways You Can Help Your Baby Learn To Walk
- Let the Baby Bounce on Your Laps.
Bounce your little one on your lap with his feet on your legs. This is important as it strengthens the baby’s leg muscles, particularly if he is crawling or has just begun to pull himself up.
- Encourage the Baby to Practice Bending the Knees.
You should show her how to bend her little knees and have her practice bending her knees frequently so that she can master the skills of standing up and sitting down.
- Introduce Your Child to a Bouncy Chair
A bouncy chair will help your baby in strengthening his leg muscles. Introduce the bouncy chair when your child is between 5 to 6 months old.
- Do not Use a Baby Walker
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) forbids the use of baby walkers for children. Research shows that walkers tend to slow the development of motor skills and lead to back problems in children. Furthermore, they are a safety hazard, because a baby walker can easily tip over or roll down the staircase. Baby walkers are completely banned in Canada.
5. Entice Your Child with a Toy
You can easily entice your little one to stand. Do this by placing a toy in a place where the baby needs to stand in order to reach it.
- Assist Your Baby in Sitting Back down
It is important to help your child sit back down after she has stood up on his own. A lot of babies begin to stand on their own before they master how to sit back down, therefore you shouldn’t worry if your child cries out for assistance while she’s standing on her feet.
Instead of picking her up when she starts to cry, help her learn how to sit down by slowly bending the little one’s knees and supporting her weight until she sits down safely.
- Line up the Furniture in Your Home
It is good for you to line up the furniture in the house to allow your baby to cruise around more easily. Cruising is when a baby begins to utilize furniture and other steady objects for support as he starts to walk about. Arrange your furniture in an orderly line and baby proof it to let the baby cruise safely and easily.
Also, once your child is cruising, it is wise to baby proof the house once more, because the baby can reach greater heights, where there is a great potential of hazards.
- Help Your Little One to Let Go of Furnitures
Assist the baby in letting go of the furniture as she cruises by holding out some of your fingers and letting her grip them with both hands. With time, she’ll be holding on to you with just a single hand and will eventually let go altogether.
9. Introduce the Baby to a Push Toy
A push toy can be something like a toy shopping cart, or a small lawn mower. A push toy will support your child as he practices cruising. It will give him control as he masters the skill of walking, refine his balance, and boost his confidence.
- Start with a Wheel-less Toy
If the little one is just beginning to cruise independently, you should first introduce her to a push toy that doesn’t have wheels. Once you are certain that your child has sufficient strength, get her a toy with wheels.
- Ensure that the Push Toy is Safe
It is important for you to get a push toy that is sturdy, has a handle with a good grip and huge wheels, because these will make it more difficult for the push toy to tip over.
- Help Your Child to Stand
Let your little one hold your fingers and pull him up into a standing position, such that he can support his own weight. Allow him to walk about as you support him under his small arms.
13. Let Your Child Exercise his Legs
The more the baby exercises her legs, the sooner she will start to try to walk independently. Holding your small one as she stands helps the legs to straighten well and prevent her from being bow-legged. Bowed legs normally disappear by the time a child is 18 months of age, but this problem can remain until the age of three.
- Make it a Habit to Praise Your Child
It is a good thing to praise your child for his efforts. Most, if not all, children seem to be born with a strong desire to make their parents proud and get praised in return. As a parent, you should let your child know when he’s doing well at standing or cruising by giving him encouragement and praise.
15. Avoid Introducing Your Baby to Indoor Baby Shoes.
You don’t need to buy a whole load of shoes for your baby, because it is better for the child to remain barefoot. Provide clean and safe indoor surfaces for your child to walk on barefoot (with non-slip socks if you like) as much as she can to help strengthen muscles in the ankles and feet, arches, balance and coordination.
If your child will be walking outside, buy shoes that are flexible and lightweight. Do not get tall boots or high-top sneakers because excessive ankle support can slow down the child’s development by constricting her motion.
- Don’t Force Your Child
It is not wise to force your child to stand or walk with your assistance if he does not want to. This may make him fearful and slow his walking process.
- Every Child is Different
Babies walk when they are really ready, therefore don’t worry if your little one delays walking until he or she is 18 months of age, or possibly, later than that. If you’re still unsure, bring it up with the doctor.
- Make Balancing a Game
To motivate your little one to master the skill of balancing on her feet, try to make balancing an exciting game, full of encouragement and praise.
- Sit on the Floor with Your Child and Assist him or her to Stand
It is a fun activity to sit down on the floor with your little one and help him stand up. Go on further to count loudly how long he’s able to stand before he falls. Clap for your little one after every attempt.
20. Motivate the Baby to Walk, Instead of Sitting
You should make it a habit to encourage the little guy to walk more, rather than siting. Accomplish this by placing him down in a standing position, instead of a sitting position on his behind.
- Encourage Your Child to Walk Towards You
Stand somewhere further away from your child and encourage her to walk towards you. This is beneficial as it may help your child become more confident and psyched enough to take her first steps.
- Make the First Steps a Big Deal
The first steps that your baby takes are a huge deal for him or her, therefore ensure that you are excited and very encouraging. Praising and clapping for your child as he walks shows he is doing it right and will boost his confidence to continue walking.
22. Be Ready for Starts and Stops
Don’t worry if your little one starts to crawl again after experiencing a bad fall or being sick. Your baby is also undergoing other developmental milestones such as talking or handling new foods, so she might take some weeks or even a whole month break from walking.
- Crawling may Come First
Some children prefer to crawl first, so they might crawl and walk before they completely take up walking.
24. Allow Your Child to Fall, So Long as it is Safe
As your child starts to walk, he is bound to bob, weave, or even dive as he tries to master his walking skills. Most babies lack good depth perception, therefore they have a tendency to bump or fall into objects instead of walking steadily to them.
So long as you have childproofed your home for a walking child and you monitor him or her very carefully all the time, you don’t have to worry about the inevitable tumbles. The child may cry after falling, but it’s mostly due to frustration than injury.
The diapers and little butts act as in-built bumpers for any tumbles and babies usually forget their falls before you do. Do not make a huge deal out of small trips and tumbles as your child learns how to walk independently.
- Never Compare Your Child’s Development to Other Children
Babies have different developmental paces; therefore you shouldn’t worry if your baby is unable to walk at a certain age. The amount of time taken for small children to achieve a particular developmental milestone, such as walking, may vary because of difference in body weights or difference in personalities.
Always remember that walking timelines are approximations and are not applicable to all babies. Some children are born prematurely and may take longer than their peers to reach different developmental milestones.
- Always Encourage a Frightened Child
At times, babies are just fearful of letting go of your hand and walking independently. It is very crucial that you encourage your baby as he or she masters the art of walking. Do not pressure or stress your child.
27. Don’t Worry if Your Child Seems to have Flat Feet or Curved Ones
You shouldn’t worry if your little one seems to have flat feet. Actually, it is usually fat that is plumping the baby’s feet up. By the time the baby is 2 or 3 years old, that extra fat on the feet will melt away and you will be able to view the natural arches.
Babies’ feet can also appear to curve inward, looking like half-moons. With time, the child’s feet will straighten out.
- Pigeon-toed Feet Eventually Straighten out
You should know that your child’s pigeon-toed feet will eventually straighten out by themselves. Pigeon-toed (toeing-in) feet arise from the internal tibia torsion, which means that the baby’s shinbones are curved inward. This will correct itself within 6 months after your child starts to walk.
If it happens that your little one still has pigeon-toed feet after those 6 months, talk to your baby doctor about some stretching exercises to straighten the toes.
- Make Sure that Your Child can Flatten his/her Feet
Make sure that you check your baby’s feet to see if he can flatten them properly. Some babies may have a natural desire to tiptoe, which may actually assist them in mastering their balance. This is usually a quirk that disappears on its own, but on rare occasion, it can be a sign of excessively tight muscles in the child’s heels or feet.
If the child is unable to physically flatten the feet independently or is walking by tiptoeing by the age of three, consult your pediatrician, because this may be an indication of a developmental problem.
30. Let the Pediatrician Know if Your Child Falls Too Much
Tell your pediatrician if your little one falls too many times, the legs appear too stiff, or continually stumbles on one side. These may be indications of joint, nerve, or spinal problems.
- Allow Your Child to Explore
Babies should be allowed to explore as they get used to walking. As your child gains more confidence and gets used to walking on smooth and flat surfaces, allow her to explore uneven surfaces. New environments will assist the child in developing balance and coordination.
Wrapping up, that should be all for now. Or you want some more? I bet you don’t. Good luck with your baby’s growth.