Babies don’t go from sitting to walking overnight. They will likely hit many walking milestones along the way, including standing supported, standing independently, cruising, first wobbly steps, and full-on walking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies often start walking with fear between 9-12 months, but this could certainly happen earlier or later. Start to let them stand on their feet on your chest early to strengthen their muscles and be their strongest cheerleader in a bid to encourage more leg movement. Clearing all the clutter that could present a tripping hazard will protect them from injury and give you added confidence along the way. A lot of play dates with their agemates will also encourage their walking independence as they are easily influenced by watching their peers.
Walking may seem like no big deal to us, but to babies and toddlers, learning to walk isn’t always a walk in the park. They’re pretty comfortable being carried around and crawling everywhere.
Many parents have noticed that their babies are afraid to begin walking.
While this could be troublesome for a few, it is rampant. Many tactics can be employed to help the baby overcome this slight roadblock.
Tips to get your baby walking faster without fear
Babies will learn to walk when ready with help from their parents. Here are ways to get your baby walking without fear
1. Start early
Most babies will start to support their legs around four to six months when held up. Most will also bend their knees and bounce up and down.
These early stages of standing activity get your baby used to standing on their feet and can start building leg and hip muscles.
2. Encourage cruising
Once babies are familiar with pulling themselves to stand, they will start to cruise along with the furniture. Encourage this activity by placing toys just out of reach.
Cruising helps to build your baby’s standing stamina and will strengthen hip and thigh muscles.
Over time, they’ll become more stable with weight on one side and better at shifting weight from foot to foot.
3. Offer the proper support
Parents believe holding their hands to support the baby on their feet is an excellent way to offer support while learning to walk.
Unfortunately, it causes your baby to tilt its body forward. Instead, focus your support on the trunk.
It will keep their feet firmly on the ground instead of tilted, helping build muscle and bone strength.
4. Keep them barefoot
Pediatric therapists recommend that you keep the baby barefoot as often as possible. Babies rely on the sense of feeling to guide them.
Different surfaces require different joints, muscles, and posture, and when the little ones can’t feel through their shoes, it hinders their walking process.
By feeling the ground, they can adjust their standing balance as needed.
5. Encourage squatting
Squatting is an essential skill that will support your baby in standing independently.
Place toys at their feet while standing, supported by a sofa, and encourage them to squat and pick them up.
That up and down motion will build excellent muscle in their hip and thigh.
6. keep toys on chairs and reachable tables
Picking your baby’s toys from their usual position and placing them on a reachable surface will encourage them to move up and down.
You can offer assistance by placing your hand on their hip or bottom if they struggle to pull themselves up.
7. Move movable objects
If your chairs are light and can topple easily, move them away and replace them with sturdy non-movable items they can pull up.
Things toppling over them may frighten them and prevent them from trying again.
8. Childproof everything
Childproofing applies to all corners and ledges your baby might bump on.
To prevent slips and trips, pick up any papers or slippery magazines on the floor. Also, choose non-slip or skid-proof socks to keep your baby’s feet warm on the floor.
9. Play with others
Babies are easily influenced and learn best from watching others, especially their peers.
Many play dates with other babies and toddlers will soon make them push themselves to keep up. They might start pushing to stand and walk when they see other babies doing it.
10. Cheer them on
Encouragement is the best motivator for babies. Everyone loves to be clapped for and applauded, so use this technique to encourage more leg movement.
Be over the top with your encouragement, so they understand that standing is lovely.
What to avoid when teaching your baby to walk
Your baby may show signs they’re ready to walk, but it can take time to coordinate everything with the brain and body. Above all else, avoid pushing your baby to walk.
And while baby walkers may sound good in theory, they’re considered quite dangerous.
They’re devices that babies sit inside of instead of behind, and they have wheels on the base that move freely as your baby pushes off with their feet. They’re different from push toys.
Sounds entertaining but come to think of it, you place a baby in a device with wheels on the bottom, and as a result, an immobile baby could move about a room somewhat quickly.
Babies have been injured in walkers by grabbing heavy or got items off counters, rolling into uncovered pools, getting burns for electrical outlets, and rolling down the staircases.
They aren’t recommended for use by the AAP.
At what age should I be concerned about my child not walking?
Don’t panic if your little one is a delayed walker. Many factors cause delayed walking, including developmental hip dysplasia, muscle tone conditions, rickets, or a delay in development.
If your child is not walking by 18 months, speak to your pediatrician and get an evaluation, but it is important to note that even if your child doesn’t walk by the 18th-month mark, the chances are that they will catch up with their peers with a bit of help.
What is considered late walking?
Most toddlers walk independently or with assistance between 11 and 16 months. Late walking is between 18 and 20 months and beyond.
It’s important to note when your child meets their other developmental milestones. If they started sitting independently later than average, it goes to reason that walking will also be late.
Your pediatrician will want to investigate further if your child met their other milestones at the traditional timing and if there’s a significant gap between those and walking, especially after 20 months.
The firsts of a child are significant, and rightly so. These memories are meant to be special moments for families and forever remembered, not stressful ones.
Above all else, remember that each child is different, and they will develop and cross certain milestones at different times.
The fear of walking is entirely healthy and a child walking a bit later than others is not something to automatically fear.
Enjoy having fun with your baby as you watch them develop this new skill of walking. And remember, don’t blink, or you might miss the little milestones as they pass.