Of the many milestones, every parent wants to see their kids reach, taking the first baby step is one no parent would like to miss.
It is amazing to see your toddler, who’s always had to depend on you, take a step, and another until he or she is able to balance without support. Seeing that this is one of your expectations for your baby, there are some steps you may need to take to be sure you prepare your child for this milestone.
Babies often tend to take their first walking steps from 9 months and above, while in some rare cases, a baby might take some steps earlier than that. While some crawl before walking, some babies jump the crawling phase but stand and move while holding objects around for support instead. That’s not to say that a baby that crawls before walking is lesser than one that doesn’t or vice-versa, but no baby is the same.
How do you teach your baby to walk?
Here are a few steps to make the walking stage and process fun for your kid.
Let your baby spend more time on the floor than anywhere else.
Kids learn to do a lot from there, but ensure you make the area safe for your baby to roll, bounce, sit, crawl, stand, and also fall. As funny as it sounds, I tell some mothers that falling is part of learning for babies. If they don’t fall, they won’t learn how to stand. Now that sounds un-mother like, but honestly, let them, but make sure it is within a blocked off area you have made safe for them.
Place your baby around high standing objects.
Place your baby around high standing objects or furniture such as couches, tables, etc. but make sure they are firm on the ground to avoid trips and injury. A child will try to hold these objects to pull him(her)self up and move the legs around. You cannot avoid instances where they fall on their buttocks, but because it’s a new phase for them, they won’t give up easily.
Play with your baby on your laps
Let them stand or bounce on your laps with their feet repeatedly. This helps to build up their leg muscles, and they learn to easily pull themselves up. While doing this with your baby, you also get to teach the baby how to bend the knees, which is quite efficient in helping them stand or sit.
Using fancy or colorful objects, toys, or snacks to get them to stand.
This one is a traditional method that has worked perfectly for centuries, and that is using fancy or colorful objects, toys, or snacks to get them to stand. You can do this by placing the objects high above their reach and let them stand to reach for it, and each time they try, you take it a little higher.
It’s a fun way of achieving your aim, while the child thinks you are both playing and falls for the trick. You could also place these objects in areas where the child will have to stand to reach or touch them.
Help them sit when they start to stand unprepared.
Another amazing way to teach your child to walk is to help them sit when they start to stand unprepared. Some babies get to stand on their own unexpectedly and get scared when such happens or sometimes cry out in fear.
It is instinctive for you to want to carry the baby and cuddle him to silence, but you could instead help by bending their knees as you ease them gently into a sitting position on the floor. It is a gradual process, and in time they will learn to sit down after they stand.
Cruising is one other common way to teach your baby to walk. You could do this for them by arranging objects closely for support as they walk around, or they could find their way around by trial and error, holding things they can see around them for support.
This latter is quite risky, though, because they may hold on to an object that is not balanced on the ground and fall. And since they are just babies, they wouldn’t know the difference between strong or flimsy support. As they do this, you could take it further by standing at the end of the objects they are holding on to with your hands stretched out for them to grasp.
Buy your baby toys they can push around.
I remember a wooden square cart my mom used for us as kids, and that was what we all practically used to learn to walk. She’d place us behind the pushcart and place our hands on the wooden bars. Once she let go, the baby’s weight goes to the hands and the grip adds pressure to the cart which then begins to move and whoo, we moved the cart around and moved with it at the same time. There are many latest designs of push toys in the market you can choose for your baby to learn.
Pull your baby to a standing position often.
As you do this, try to ensure your baby holds only your fingers so that they support their own weight and not the other way round. You can extend this by holding them under the arms and let them practice walking around in few wobbly paces at a time. Doing this will help them stretch out their leg muscles and may prevent the legs from bowing in later on.
Let your baby walk barefooted around the house.
There is no point stuffing their legs in shoes or flops especially since you want them to learn to walk. Walking barefoot helps your baby to develop their arches and build their leg muscles which in turn helps them with balance and coordination. Wearing shoes, on the other hand, prevents this and slows down their walking progress.
Stay at the end of the room and call them to come towards you.
This is much easier if they have started taking the first few steps. You should expect that they might not be able to cover much distance at first, so try not to stay too far and also expect them to stop midway, but you can reach out to them and help them close the distance.
Some few things to avoid when teaching your baby to walk
- Do not teach your baby how to walk with a walker. It does more harm than the expected good. Babies trained in walkers tend to stand on their toes instead of laying the feet flat on the floor and in most cases make it difficult for them to stand on their own or when they do, in a much longer time than when taught by natural methods.
- Do not compare your baby to other babies. Every child is different and has a different time they achieve a milestone. Be patient with your baby.
- Don’t force your child to walk. Don’t make it a big deal. This process should be fun for them and not forced. Most babies walk when they are ready but forcing them could delay their response because of the fear you may have instilled in them.
Most effective how to teach your baby to walk is to make sure you celebrate every few steps they take and make it a big deal for them. You can make every practice a game, but make sure they enjoy learning to walk. If you notice something strange in the walking posture of your baby, the way the legs are placed and other abnormalities, ensure you contact your doctor.