Let’s face it when babies start walking, they rule the roost!
It can be frustrating to watch your little one “explore” and occasionally crash into things (and people!) For this reason, many parents wonder when should babies walk?
Using a baby walker is not recommended since they are associated with increased risks of delay in reaching motor milestones (e.g., standing and walking independently). For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of baby walkers.
In addition, research shows that children who have used a baby walker before they are one year old are at a much greater risk for falls and injury from falls than those who do not use a baby walker to develop their walking skills.
How To Help Your Baby Walk
When it comes to helping your child learn to walk, you might be thinking: “I’ll just put my kid in a walker.” or “How can I help him learn how to stand on their own two feet?”
You can’t force your child to walk or even stand on their own. You can, however, give them many opportunities to practice and discover walking and standing. And remember: every baby learns to walk in their own time.
Babies need to learn how their bodies work – and what they’re capable of – so help your little one discover walking by giving them lots of time and cuddling up close. Read a book together!
Try the following ideas:
- Make sure they get good exercise each day by playing with them, singing songs, helping them kick a ball, etc.
- Put interesting objects just out of reach but not too far that they will get frustrated (this is great for building up their muscles).
- Let them crawl up and down steps (but be careful around stairs!)
It’s important to understand why your baby falls when they walk. Falling is part of learning, but it can also injure their confidence in walking. Sometimes babies will let go with one hand when they lose their balance, which causes them to fall forward.
Look out for these signs that your child may need help or more practice walking:
- Babies walk into things often.
- They don’t get up from a crawling position by themselves.
- Babies do not try to walk at all.
Tips To Help Your Baby Walk Earlier
Provide Lots Of Opportunities For Practice
Put interesting objects just out of reach but not too far that they will get frustrated. Put a favorite toy just low enough so they can grab it and praise them when they reach for the toy or try to pull themselves up into a standing position.
If you’ve read books on child development, or if you have other children, you may expect your baby to take their first steps somewhere between 10 and 12 months. So if your baby doesn’t begin walking by 14 months, you may worry.
Time To Teach Some Body Awareness
When your child is on their back, lift one of their legs, then let go of it – this will help them realize how gravity works! Next, hold their hands and swing them from side to side as if making big circles together.
Do the same with their head and eyes – first, move them right, then left – this will teach them about balance!
Get Crawling Again!
Your baby may be able to stand by themselves now, but there’s no doubt they still get around better on their hands and knees. They need to strengthen their legs, arms, and back muscles if they want to walk. So give them lots of chances to crawl up and downstairs.
Stairs Are Terrific For Little Ones
Staircases are terrific for babies learning how to stand or walk by themselves. It is an excellent way to practice their sense of balance without tumbling down hardwood floors. Also, make sure you don’t have any throw rugs or loose carpeting near your staircase.
The “Stop” And Go Method
When your child is just learning how to stand, take their hands and say “STOP” while their left foot touches the floor. When they’re standing on both feet happily, praise them for being great!
Now say “GO,” so they’ll step with the other foot. It may take a few steps to balance themselves out, but you should do this periodically since it helps children learn to walk independently!
Learning To Catch Themselves
Stand facing your baby at arm’s length; then slowly lean forward until you’re about to fall (mimic what might happen if they lose their balance). Your child will try hard not to fall – sweet! Repeat this often enough, and they’ll be able to catch themselves if they start to fall forward or sideways.
Walk With Them
Help them practice standing by holding your hands behind their back while you’re both standing, then let go of one hand so that they are “walking” with you! This is just like doing the “stop” and “go’ method, but it also helps children learn to take small steps without falling over.
Help Him Fall Forward Safely
Here’s a tip especially helpful when parents are worried about their child falling down the stairs: Put their foot on the next step up (putting pressure on their leg), so they can push up against it to help them walk up the stairs without using their arms. This gives them a little more confidence – and safety – when they’re walking up the steps.
A fun way to help your baby walk is by chasing after them and pretending you can’t catch them – the surprise will make them giggle and want to run even faster!
Now that you know these tips try putting these into action so your child can start walking earlier than expected!
Here are even more great tips from parents just like you!
Give Your Baby A Push
Here’s a silly way to get your baby walking. Hold their hands and “walk” backward while pushing them forward!
Then stop, so they walk independently, but be ready to catch them if they start falling. Even though this is a bit shaky, it’s a good way for children to learn how to balance themselves.
Ladder Up The Steps
Make sure there is a stair between two chairs for them to climb up and down over and over again – it will help them build trust in themselves to start walking. This is a good way for children to feel comfortable and confident on their feet without worrying about falling.
Follow Your Child
Anytime your baby crawls where there could be stairs – like into their bedroom – follow them closely, then crawl back down with them. This will increase your child’s safety awareness, and it’s fun too! It also teaches trust and cooperation. Isn’t that great?
Take Their Hand
Walk with them hand in hand while you’re by the stairs! When they reach for a stair, tell her “no” and help her find another way up or down. This helps children learn by example that it could be dangerous to walk on the stairs without your supervision.
Pace Your Steps
When you walk down steps, go very slowly so your baby can keep up with you easily. Then stop every once in a while so they don’t gain speed ahead of you. If your child is walking alone, make sure they always go one step at a time so they aren’t tempted to go down the whole flight of stairs in one step.
Put A Hand On Their Knee
Lean forward, so your baby is off-balance, then gently push their knee out so they will try harder not to fall over. This lets children practice feeling their balance without actually losing it, which will give them confidence when they’re walking on their own!
Get A Little Crazy!
You don’t have to stop having fun because your little one has started walking! Play “horsey” by lifting them onto your back while walking around the house or outside.
Just make sure they are ready for this type of play before trying it. You can also pretend to trip, so they fall back into your arms for a fun “surprise” effect. Your baby will be giggling in no time!
Fun Facts for Parents on When Should Babies Walk
If you’re wondering why babies take their first steps at such different times, consider this:
- Babies regularly practice standing with assistance from parents or furniture; they often begin pulling up onto their knees between seven and eight months of age.
- Most babies take their first unassisted steps between nine and twelve months. Some babies take their first steps as early as seven or eight months, while others may not walk until fourteen or fifteen months, especially boys!
So, even though your little one’s friends may be walking by nine to ten months, this doesn’t mean that he won’t start walking earlier or later than them. Your baby is doing just fine as long as they aren’t still crawling and can pull themselves up into a standing position.
Even though you can’t force your child to walk early, it’s clear that there are many activities that parents can do with their children to help them learn.