Inside: Want to help baby learn to walk? Every child will take his or her first steps at their own pace, but there are things that you can do to help them along in this important milestone!
It’s hard to believe it, but my son–our fourth child–is already a toddler! The transition from infancy to toddlerhood began on his first birthday last month, and I’m reminded once again that the old adage is true: The days are long but the years are short. (Oh.so.short!)
Perhaps it’s because I’m a 4th-time mom or perhaps it’s because I’m just more laid back in my mid-late 30s (is 37 mid or late? I’m going with mid!) than I was in my late 20s with my first child, but I am confident that Baby Boy will take his first steps on his time table, and he will be just fine.
Only one of my children walked before her first birthday–my second daughter. But even she simply took a few steps one day at 11 1/2 months old and then plopped back down on the floor and continued crawling as her main mode of transportation–until a few weeks after her first birthday.
My other two daughters didn’t walk until they were 15 months old. But are there things that we, as parents, can do to help baby learn to walk? And, if there are, should we?
In today’s post I’ll be addressing 7 ways to get your infant moving–without rushing them to toddlerhood. (Because if another adage is even truer than the first that I mentioned in this post it’s this: Mamas, those babies don’t keep!)
7 Ways to Help Baby Learn to Walk
1. Don’t push.
This should go without saying, but, sadly, that isn’t the case. Do not push your child to walk before he or she is ready. Don’t be alarmed if your 1-year-old isn’t walking yet. Like I said, only one of my four children took any steps before their first birthdays. Most children will walk by 15 months old, and some children walk as early as 8 to 9 months old. The later the child walks, the longer the time their bones have to develop properly. Anywhere from 9 to 18 months is considered a normal age to reach this milestone. I learned the hard way that pushing my children to potty train before they were ready would backfire. You do not want to rush a child into walking before they are ready.
2. Provide lots of opportunities to cruise.
Some babies begin to cruise as early as 6 months old! Cruising is simply “walking” while holding onto things, like furnitures or large baby equipment. My son has been cruising for months, and I know it means he will be all the more prepared for walking by the time he takes his first steps. While I don’t discourage baby-proofing your home, try to move past the temptation to remove all furniture. Your child needs that furniture to hold onto, so they can practice cruising!
3. Buy baby a good pair of shoes.
While indoors, it’s actually better for a baby to learn how to walk barefoot. But, for safety reasons, babies should begin wearing shoes on their feet with a hard enough sole to protect their feet from injuries when they are learning to walk outside. I loved putting my babies in soft-soled shoes before they could walk, but they really do need those little toes (and soles!) protected by more durable shoes as they begin walking outdoors. The shoes need to be flexible enough to allow for the normal use and development of their foot muscles.
We bought our son his first pair of “real” shoes right after his first birthday. We took a trip to Target and had fun picking him out a pair of Stride Rites (they’re also available online).
I went with a neural navy so he could wear them with just about every outfit he owns. My husband and I loved that these shoes are durable and fit his feet so well.
My mom says she had a hard time finding shoes to fit my wide feet when I was a child, and Surprize by Stride Rite have a generous fit for both medium and wide-width feet.
They also have a simple closure for easy on and off–but not too easy that he can pull them off himself (which is important!). They also have rounded toes & traction pods to reduce falls and tumbles, memory-foam/anti-stink link (y’all–my kids have stinky feet so this is AWESOME!), and flexible outsoles to fit the shape and movement of the foot.
4. Help baby pull himself up.
If you notice your baby starting to pull him or herself up, it’s totally fine to help them! You can show your baby how to bend her knees to get back down on the floor. This will help ease falls when they begin to take steps on their own. You can even make a game out of helping baby pull up and then bend back down. Your baby will love this! (I know my son does!)
5. Help baby practice.
Just like you should help baby pull himself up, it’s OK to let your baby hold onto your fingers and begin walking. This will give him or her the confidence until he or she is ready to take those first steps on their own! There will come a day when their little toddles will turn into running faster than you can even keep up with, and you will treasure the time of letting them hold onto your hands as they learned.
6. Incentivize with toys.
Yes–I am suggesting a bit of bribery here! Just like you can when helping your child learn how to roll over or crawl, you can incentivize your child with toys when teaching them how to walk. Simply place the toys a few steps away, so they will be motivated to continue walking until they reach the desired object.
7. Give lots of praise.
More than anything, your child needs to hear you lavish praise upon him. When he takes those first steps, clap your hands and cheer. And when he falls, scoop him up, give him lots of cuddles and kisses, and let him know you’re proud of him no matter what.