It is such an exciting time when your baby takes his first steps. Watching him wobble and take a few steps before toppling over can be exciting, but also a bit terrifying. It means life is going to start getting even more busy; they are officially on the go! Learning how to walk is different for every child, as everyone develops at their own pace.
Your baby will show signs he is ready and when they do there are lots of ways to help encourage walking. Some babies are such fast crawlers that they have no interest in walking because they get to where they want to be by crawling. In cases like this gross motor activities are encouraged to show how much fun walking can be too. When your child shows signs that they are ready there are lots of exercises and activities you can do to show them how to walk.
Developing the Body Strength
- A great way to develop the strength is by giving your baby places to pull themselves up safely. Put a favorite toy on the couch, just out of their reach while sitting so they have to try to use their muscles to stand up.
- Have your child stand on your lap as you hold their hands. Sing a song, such as Bumpin’ Up and Down in my Little Red Wagon, to encourage them bounce up and down.
- Another great one is having them push around an object such as a sturdy laundry basket with their stuffed animals in it.
- The push walkers are also great to use indoors or in the yard. I always found my children were in more control when they were on the grass, so the wheels didn’t go so fast! This helps them gain confidence and excitement while developing some great gross motor skills. You can also find a walker that has breaks of different strength to slow your little one down on hardwood floors.
Learning How to Walk: Favorite Toy Encouragement
Once your child becomes comfortable on his feet, a great way to encourage him to walk is to use objects that he loves.
- Hand him two objects he loves to hold, one in each hand, this will help him use his legs instead of grabbing onto furniture for assistance. You and your child will be surprised what he can do when he is focused on the toys in his hands.
- Create a treasure hunt with his favorite small toys. Using painters tape, adhere them along the wall, at standing height. If you have a long hallway this is the perfect place to do this activity. Your child can stop and grab the objects from the wall with each step. You can also do this with sticky notes and favorite pictures on them, such as little blue truck or Elmo.
- You can also simply hold toys or stuffed animals at eye level a few feet or inches away to encourage those steps.
- Hold out your hands just out of baby’s reach to get him to stand up. Have bubbles open and ready. Blow them right in front of your baby so he can reach them. Then, blow them a bit further away so he will want to step towards the bubbles with his continued excitement.
Not all children are ready to take steps independently and that is okay! You may think of assisted walking as going behind your child and holding his hands to assist in the skill of walking. This common method actually does not provide the developmental skills to be able to stand and walk on their own. It causes your child to lean forward and walk on his toes. You will often see a child trying to walk very quickly when using this technique because he is off balance with his body ahead of his feet. Holding your baby by his hands also does not allow him to use his arms for balance because they are up high, throwing his center of gravity off.
A better assisted walking technique is to hold under your child’s armpits, around their rib cage. This encourages your child to stand up straight and place the full sole of their foot on the ground while practicing walking. This leads to another key factor to consider when teaching your child to walk: his shoes. When a child is learning to walk and still perfecting the skill, it is best to be barefoot or in a soft soled shoe so that he can practice coordination, balance, and extending his toes for grip. Robeez or Dotty Fish are a great soft soled shoe; and if you need more protection for safety at a park you can try a shoe that has a flexible sole and wide toe box, such as these.
I hope with all these tips provided you have some ideas on how to introduce walking to your baby. Make sure you are always close by because babies are very wobbly at the beginning stages of walking. It is also a great idea to make sure they start barefoot. They will have a better grip and learn to feel their way through each step. Best of luck through this exciting milestone!
To learn more about developmental milestones take our online class, Caring For Young Children: Early Childhood Milestones. All nannies placed with a family through Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny are given three free online classes, as we believe educated childcare providers are most valuable. Reach out to us today to inquire about Nanny Placement.
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About The Author
Jaclyn Capilli has over 10 years experience working with children. After graduating from Curry College with her Bachelor Degree she worked as a paraprofessional in a special need’s classroom. Then while in Graduate school at Cambridge College she nannied for a local family for 3 years. After moving back to the South Shore she worked for Head Start for 5 plus years while nannying for a local family. She is now a mother of two and is working for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She owns Jaclyn Nicole Photography, a photography business in the South Shore. In her free time she likes reading, going for hikes and making memories with her daughters.