Once your baby starts crawling, you know it’s just a matter of time before he or she wants to spread their little wings and start walking. It’s an exciting time for parents and little ones alike.
And to help support them in this developmental milestone, here are some key points to keep in mind.
When Do Babies Start Walking?
Every child is different, but on average, babies start to walk around the one year mark. Precocious children may start as early as eight months. Other children may not start until they reach 16 months.
As a parent, you’ll probably be able to gauge when your baby is going to start walking based on their personality and developmental milestones, such as crawling and pulling themselves up to stand.
There’s no need to rush your baby’s first steps because once they start walking, they’re going to walk for the rest of their lives! But there are things you can do as a parent to help them transition from crawling to walking.
How to Encourage Baby's First Steps
When babies embark on their first walking attempts, they’re a little wobbly. And as a parent, you might be afraid of your child falling and hurting himself.
Nonetheless, try not to hold their hands too much!
It might seem like you’re helping them, but instead, you’re actually preventing your baby from learning to balance on his own two feet.
So, what can you do to encourage those first, tentative steps? Here are some simple tips.
Respect Your Child’s Development
Every child will start walking at a different age. Respect your baby, as well as his personality and allow him to move at his own pace.
If you compare your child to other babies and worry that he’s lagging behind, you can always consult with your pediatrician.
However, it’s safe to say that your little one will walk as soon as he’s ready. Then, there’s no turning back!
Keep It Fun
From the child’s perspective, learning how to walk must be a lot like an astronaut’s first steps on the moon. It’s very exciting for them, and also tiring!
So, encourage your child by being excited for him. You can do this by cheering, clapping and staying positive.
If your baby starts to feel frustrated or upset, move on to something else, such as toys, books, nursing or anything else. Your child will try again when he’s ready.
Let Him Walk to You
If your child can stand on his own, you can sit on the floor and hold out your hands to him. If he’s ready, let him step towards you.
By staying close, you can support him if necessary, and he’ll feel safe having you nearby.
Set Reasonable Goals
If you’re not a runner, it would probably be daunting to run five miles right away. Instead, it would seem much more do-able if you knew you only had to run one mile at a time. Carry this same philosophy over into your child’s first steps.
Don’t expect or pressure him to walk the entire length of the couch.
Instead, leave their favorite toy just out of reach, and watch as they step towards it. As they grow in confidence and balance, start placing the toy further out of reach. This challenges them, without discouraging them.
You can set up the perfect track for your little walker by lining up couches, chairs, end tables and other objects. Leave just enough space between them so that your child is encouraged to take independent steps without the support of furniture.
It’s a good idea to encourage your child to walk on soft carpets, rather than bathroom tiles. You may also want to invest in some floor mats to protect their little knees, hands, and heads from scratches, brushes or even bruises when they fall.
Luckily babies tend to fall backward and their cute little bottoms are the perfect cushion for them.
Let Them Go Barefoot
Toes are what enable each of us to find balance. So, when babies learn to walk, let them roam without any shoes.
This will allow them to connect to their bodies better, and learn how to balance more efficiently.
Skip the Walker
Both Canada and the American Academy of Pediatrics have either banned or discouraged the use of walkers. Because it’s harder for children to find their own balance, it’s easier for them to fall down. Plus, these walkers allow children to move far too quickly and reach things that can cause injury.
How to Keep the House Safe
It’s very important that your house is baby-ready. If it isn’t, your little one can easily hurt himself. Furthermore, if he’s able to go into every room, and get a hold of fragile and/or dangerous objects, you’ll find yourself saying, “No!” all the time.
This creates a very negative and discouraging atmosphere for both you and your child. To save both of you from unnecessary frustration, just do these simple things:
Move Items Higher
Not only is your baby mobile, but now, he’s taller, too. It might be time to move fragile vases, your cell phone and all other items up high and out of his reach.
Remove Coffee Tables and Protect Sharp Edges
As parents, you want your child to grow, but you don’t want him to hurt himself in the process. Because they can easily trip and fall into tables and sharp edges, sacrifice home décor for their wellbeing – just for the time being!
Consider yourself a minimalist and cut back on certain furniture pieces to prevent injury. You can also apply soft edging to wall corners to keep head injuries to a minimal.
Use Door Locks, Gates, and Stops
Once babies know how to walk, the whole house is a new world to explore.
Make sure you can securely lock doors to prevent your baby from entering certain rooms without your supervision. Door stops will also ensure that little toes and fingers won’t get pinched.
Install Gates for Stairways
When your baby is more confident and stable on their feet, they’ll be able to walk up and down the stairs safely. Until then, block off these areas. This way, your child can only practice walking on stairways with your support and watchful eye.
Walking is a wonderful milestone. Provide your baby with a safe, open space to practice and be the most excited cheerleader you can be. Then, your child will thrive as he takes his first steps.