Are you waiting with bated breath for your baby’s first steps? Do you want to encourage him to build the confidence to walk? Does your little one seem interested in sitting up or crawling and you feel it is the right time for him to begin walking? Has your pediatrician asked you to encourage him to try to walk t home?
If you are thinking of any of the above, read on to know how you can teach her to walk.
How Can You Teach Your Baby To Walk?
Your baby may try to walk the moment he can stand up on his own, whether or not he falls, or he can stand. On the other hand, your baby may wait till he feels he is completely sure of his balance before he starts to walk.
In most cases, he will begin walking sometime around the ages of 12 to 17 months. Some babies may begin walking as early as ten months or even as late as 18 months, but both the situations are normal. There are many factors that will affect when your baby begins walking, and genetics will also play a big role. Despite the genetics and other factors, you, as a parent or caregiver, can help him learn to walk. (1)
Here are a few safe ways you can use to help your baby start walking:
1. Help Your Baby Strengthen The Back Muscles:
Most people feel that the leg muscles are the ones that will support walking, but the back muscles have a far bigger role to play.
- Your baby’s back muscles are the ones that will help him finally get the strength to walk on his own. To help him strengthen his back muscles, you should encourage movement in his head and neck. You can do this by simply showing him things of interest that are at a slightly elevated level than his line of vision. You can also point out to objects that are not directly in his line of sight and for which he needs to move his neck.
- Another great way you can help to strengthen your baby’s back muscles is by making him lie down on his stomach. Doing activities that encourage movement in his neck and head and giving him enough tummy time will ensure that he has better control over his muscles. Once he develops strength in the back muscles, he will be able to start his journey towards walking.
2. Help Your Baby To Practice Coordination:
Your baby will require a lot of balance and coordination before he can learn to walk on his own.
- Once he can sit up on his own, you can help him to develop and practice his balance and coordination.
- Sit down on the floor or a clean and firm surface with him. Take a ball and roll it towards him and again away from him. It will encourage him to try and keep his balance as he moves forward and backward about the ball. You can also move the ball from one side of your baby to the other, and help his coordination on the side too.
3. Encourage Your Baby To Participate In More Games:
Playing games with your baby is a fun and effective way of encouraging him to walk.
- Devise fun games that you can play with your baby, which require your baby to move and balance.
- If your baby learns to crawl, you can put him down on the floor and get down on all four yourself too. Encourage him to crawl and make it a game to chase him by crawling yourself. Make it fun by laughing and giggling with him and trying to catch him each time you come near. It will encourage him to try and crawl faster and will help him in controlling his arm and leg movements better.
4. Make It Interesting For Your Baby To Reach Out For Things:
According to doctors, as long as your baby shows an interest and reaching out and grabbing things, it will increase his interest to walk and move.
- As a parent, you have to stimulate him constantly so that he tries to reach out for something and finally grabs it. It will contribute immensely towards his overall walking skills.
- Take some of your baby’s favorite toys or items and place them at a distance from him. Make sure he can see where you are placing them and that they are not too far, just a little out of reach. Also, make sure that you keep the items on the same level as your baby, for example, if he is on the floor, keep the items at a distance from him on the floor itself.
- He may try to reach the object by crawling or even standing. If you have a sofa or a low chair nearby, you can also place the toy on a slightly elevated place. It will encourage him to try and stand up and take a step towards the toy. Support him if he tries to walk towards the toy and make sure you keep the game fun and interesting by bringing over new treasures at regular intervals.
5. Damage Control Your Baby’s Fall:
Your baby may be almost ready to take those first steps, but sometimes, a fear of falling can prevent him from doing so.
- If he has already learned how to stand up by pulling himself and standing for a while, it is time for you to move on to the next step. If you think he is afraid of falling, help him overcome his fears by placing cushions along the way. Even if he falls once, he will know that it will not hurt him. You can pretend to walk and then fall in front of him on the cushions a few times and laugh. It will show him that it is a fun way to walk ahead and fall.
- If he still looks scared, you can offer him your hand and help him walk ahead. Show him that he can also move ahead by holding on to furniture or other objects on the way. Just make sure that none of those objects have sharp edges or have a risk of toppling over.
6. Assist Your Baby Properly While He Starts Walking:
Once your baby starts taking those first steps, it is important to hold him properly while he walks.
- In the beginning when he is still not stable on his feet, you should hold him just above the ribs.
- Once he becomes more stable and can balance better, you should hold him around the hips. It will ensure that his core muscles are stable and strong.
7. Make Use Of Push And Pull Toys:
Push and pull toys will be a lot of help when your baby is in the stages of learning to walk or the first few steps of walking.
- You can get some push or pull toys for him that will offer him support, maintain balance and stand up. Once can stand up and stay standing for some time, it will ease his fears and build his confidence to take those first steps.
- A push and pull toy will help him move around while maintaining his balance. Most of these toys also have additional features like sound and lights, so he will have fun and stay entertained.
8. Let Your Baby Stay Barefoot:
You may want to keep his feet protected at all times by making him wear shoes. When your baby is learning to walk, it is a good idea to let him go barefoot on the floor.
- He will find it easier to walk when he is barefoot. He will be able to grip the surface better with his toes and heel when he is barefoot, as compared to when he is wearing his socks and shoes, or even just socks.
- Wearing socks and shoes may be especially important for your baby if you live in a cold climate or if it is cold outside. If possible, have a carpet that will ensure your baby does not feel cold and can walk barefoot too. If he has to wear shoes, make sure they are comfortable and give him enough room to move his feet and toes easily.
Fun Games To Encourage Your Baby To Walk:
Here are some fun games that you can play with your baby to encourage him to walk:
- Tell your baby something on the lines of ‘do what I do’ in a sing-song way to make it look like a song. Start by giving him simple instructions like ‘pat your head’ or ‘touch your eyes’ or ‘shake your body’ and such. Make sure you only give him instructions that you know he will be able to understand. Whatever instructions you give, act them out first and wait for some time. Give him enough time to understand the instructions and then follow you. Make sure you speak out the instructions slowly and if required, repeat them again. If at first he does not respond to your instructions, you can help him by moving his body for him as per the instructions you give. Pat your head and then show him what he has to do.
- Lie down on the floor and try to push up, just the way your baby does when he is crawling. Help your baby do the same if he is unable to follow what you are doing. It will help him strengthen his upper body and the core muscles.
- Next, sit down with your legs on the floor and stretch them in front of you. Now move them first together and then away from each other. Your baby may find it difficult to follow the entire set of steps at once. You can break up the movements by doing one step first and giving him time to do it. Once your baby has done it, you can do the next step and wait for your baby to follow. Doing so will help him strengthen his legs and improve his balance.
- S it down and stretch your legs in the front. Now extend your body forwards and touch your toes with your fingers, or at least pretend to do so. Let your baby try and do it and extend his body as much as he can. You may be surprised at his ability, and he may find it very easy to touch his toes, even if you cannot do it! It will ensure his core muscles get stronger than before, and he gets ready to walk.
- Once he has had enough sitting down exercise, start doing some crawling exercises for your baby to mimic. Race around the room or you can pretend to catch him while he is crawling and encourage him to move away. You can also play the game vice versa, where you pretend to move away from him while crawling and your baby has to catch you while crawling. To make it fun, you can also do simple crawling motions with your baby.
- Hold on to some furniture and slowly stand up. Once your baby is also in a standing up position, show him how you put one leg in front of you and place it on a step. Wait for your baby to try it out too. If you feel he is getting scared, you can give him your hand to hold on to while he takes his steps forward.
As a parent, it is understandable that you are excited to see your baby’s first steps. Do remember that each baby reaches his milestones at a different pace, so give your baby time to do so.
What walking games did you play with your baby? Tell us about your experiences, suggestions and tips below. We would love to hear from you.
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