How to teach your baby to walk is one of those things that parents are more than happy to volunteer for. Spending hours seeing if your little bucket of joy can walk upright, even for just a second or two, can bring out a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon.
The moment your baby figures out how to stand, then he/she is ready to start walking. And though walking for a child will eventually happen, whether you help out or not, we know for a fact that no parent can’t resist to make that transition a little bit faster.
In this article, we will talk about different ways you can make that transition from crawling to walking – as well as things you should do – based from the collective knowledge of the Kinacle team in raising our own children. We’ve also included advice from other parenting experts from around the world.
We hope that with our collective knowledge, we would be able to come up with a comprehensive guide that you can use, or share with others.
So, are you excited?
Let’s get started then!
How To Teach Your Baby To Walk: The Foundations
You don’t expect your baby to just get on his/her two legs and start walking to you right?
Even before your baby even show signs of standing up, you should help facilitate the transition by letting him/her bounce on your lap, or on any flat cushioned surface.
As the action suggests, hold your baby securely with both hands and bounce him/her up and down gently – making sure that his/her feet hit the bottom.
Now the idea behind this is that their leg muscles are not yet accustomed to carrying their entire body weight. By bouncing your child, on a cushioned surface, you are somewhat exercising his/her leg muscles and strengthening them.
This bouncing action also indirectly teaches them to bend their knees, which not only helps with balance, and for when they try to stand up or sit.
Use Tools & Toys
Of course, we still have other things to do aside from bouncing our babies the entire day, so getting a bouncing chair will make up for things.
READ THIS: Now when it comes to tools designed to help babies walk, there’s a debate about whether to use a baby walker or not. From our end, some of our colleagues did use baby walkers while some didn’t. And since none of us are medical professionals, we will leave this to your discretion. For your reference, here’s the statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the use of baby walkers.
Also, here’s an article we published that talks about how to safely use baby walkers if this is something you want to do.
With that out of the way, toys are also a great way to force your baby to develop his/her leg muscles and to encourage him/her to try and stand.
All you need to do is take a toy and place it above his/her head, just out of reach from his/her hand.
Yes, we understand that some might find this unkind. So again, this is just an example that experts have recommended, and you as a parent have the right to either leverage it or not based on your beliefs.
Help Them Sit Down
Closely related to the bouncing example earlier, the idea is to familiarize a baby’s brain with the movement of transitioning from a standing to a seated position, and vice versa.
The idea behind helping them sit down is to develop a reflex action for your baby.
Babies find it hard to process too much information. So irregardless if your baby can stand on his/own, he/she may find it difficult to sit down naturally. That’s why you see babies either cry, or just prefer to fall, rather than trying to transition back to a sitting position.
How To Teach Your Baby To Walk: The Cruising Stage
Using Furniture As A Training Tool
Cruising happens when your baby’s muscle is strong enough to support his/her weight, and when your baby starts to use objects to help him/her stay in a standing position.
Line your furniture up in such a way where your baby can use them as a sort of support for her to walk around.
READ THIS: Keep in mind though that your baby has not yet mastered balancing, so we highly suggest that you baby proof all your furniture, making sure that any sharp corners are padded. Also, make sure that the furniture you use are stable, and won’t fall over easily on your baby.
Going back, allow your baby to grip the furniture and use it as a support when trying to walk. Of course, make sure that you are always there to make sure that everything is safe, and to catch him/her if ever she loses her balance.
Using Push Toys
Push toys need not have wheels. In fact, your first push toys often shouldn’t have wheels, as your baby is not yet ready with the idea of continuous forward movement.
Find a stable object that you baby can use to put his/her hands on and push. It can be as simple as a large cardboard box weighted down with a few clothes for stability.
READ THIS: If you use this method, make sure that there are no blunt or sharp objects inside the cardboard box.
Once you’ve seen that your child can already push things around with ease, then you have the option to use wheeled push toys. Anything with wheels will do, so long as it does not pose a threat to your child’s safety if ever he/she falls into it.
Practice Walking With Your Baby
Once you see that your baby can hold him/herself up and push toys a bit, then you should start teaching him her how to actually walk.
Practice walking by standing behind your baby, let him/her hold on to your hands or fingers, and by pulling him/her up a bit for him/her to stay upright. You can also choose to put your arms under his/her arms. Both methods will do just fine.
By allowing your baby to do this exercise, they will eventually develop the strength, and balance, to walk on their own.
Also, helping them stand upright helps straighten their legs and minimizes bowed legs. Don’t worry though as bowed legs are natural for babies, and will eventually go away when they reach beyond their 18th month.
A Bit Of Emotional Encouragement Helps
They may not show it, and there’s no real way of proving it. But from our collective experiences, we believe that babies perform better when they are given positive reinforcement.
Yes, we did explore the possibility of us just romanticizing the whole thing. But you know what, what do you have to lose, right?
Besides, what parent would not want to shower his/her baby with love from time to time?
Additional Talking Points
Using Indoor Walking Shoes – From our end, we don’t see the need for it. Unless you have an issue about dirty floors, then allowing your child to practice walking barefoot is best. Not only does it naturally helps their muscles and foot arches develop naturally, it also allows them to experience sensations on their feet, which helps their brains catalog the correct reaction.
Don’t Force Your Baby To Walk If He/She Doesn’t Want To – Sometimes, your baby has other “important” things to do than try to walk. When this happens, don’t worry as it is natural. Like what we mentioned earlier, they will eventually end up walking one way or the other.
How To Teach Your Baby To Walk: Support & Development Stage
Play Over Training
Aside from sleeping and eating, babies just want to have fun. So when teaching your baby how to walk – mask it as play.
Count out loud how long your baby can stay up before tumbling down, and laugh when he/she eventually falls.
Of course, your baby wouldn’t know the difference between 1 and 5, but the sounds you make will get him/her excited, making him want to repeat the action again.
Up The Ante
Once you feel that your baby is ready to stand up and walk on his/her own, allow her to!
Stand him/her up a little bit away from you and force her to walk towards you. Remember to continuously encourage her by making clapping sounds, and reach out to him/her as if you’re about to give him/her a hug.
Just make sure though that you do this exercise in a padded floor to ensure your baby’s safety when he/she eventually falls.
And when they do take those crucial first step, make a huge fuss out of it. Shower your baby with hugs and kisses, and let him/her know that he/she did a good job.
As mentioned before, a bit of emotional encouragement goes a long way.
Walk With Them
If you do everything right, you’ll soon find yourself with an inquisitive baby that is ready to explore spaces around your home.
Hold your baby’s hand and allow him/her to walk on uneven surfaces, or at an incline, for him/her to develop her balance further.
For The Parents
Here are a few talking points for you to consider.
Each Baby Is Different – So in terms of “achievements” avoid comparing your baby with others. There is no exact time that says a baby should achieve a certain milestone. Again, some babies learn to walk earlier compared to others. Just keep training and encouraging your child, and he/she will eventually learn how.
“Flat Feet” For Babies Are Ok – This is common for almost all babies, and is nothing more than excess baby fat. This will eventually go away when your baby reaches 2 or 3 years old.
“Pigeon Toed Feet” Will Eventually Fly Away – Also known as “toeing-in”, it’s when a baby’s shin bones are facing inwards. Again, don’t worry about it as it will eventually go away – a few months after your baby starts walking. But if this is a real bother to you, then you can check with a medical professional for stretching exercises that can help correct it.
Tip-toeing – While this is another baby walking trait that will eventually go away, it can also be a developmental issue. So if your baby still tip toes while walking after 3 years of age, then we suggest you consult a medical professional.
We at Kinacle were able to recall countless heart melting stories about how our own kids learned how to walk. And we know that you will have the same memorable stories to tell to your friends in the future.
So remember, how to teach your baby to walk is all about encouragement, dedication, patience and love – from you.
As always, if you have anything to add, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!