The moment you notice your little one starting to crawl or trying to pull themselves up to stand, you become that curious parent anticipating more milestones. How do I know, you may ask? Because I’ve been there myself! Six times.
I know how it feels and how you want to capture loads of videos and pictures to share with your loved ones. Walking is a big change for both you and your little one.
For your little one, it’s similar to a teen getting their driving license, and for you, it means pulling up your pants even more and being an even better super-mom trying to keep up with a highly active tiny toddler.
Table of Contents
Signs Your Baby is Ready to Walk
Typically, babies start walking sometime between 9-18 months of age. Based on my experience raising my kids, below is a chart showing typical development milestones:
|Around 2 months
|Your little one will start holding their head up while lying on their tummy.
|Around 4 months
|Grasping objects, holding their head steady while being held, and lifting onto elbows during tummy time.
|Around 6 months
|At this stage, your baby learns to roll from tummy to back, pushing with straight arms and supporting themselves on their hands while sitting on their tummy.
|Around 9 months
|Your baby achieves a sitting position independently.
|Around 12 months
|By this age, babies learn to pull up and stand independently, and they begin walking with support, such as holding onto furniture.
Again, use this table as a general reference only! Remember, every baby is unique and hence, some reach these milestones early while some take more time.
So, Mom, please don’t spiral after reading these and assume or take my word as a rigid deadline.
8 Activities to Encourage Independent Walking in Your Kids
Once you start noticing that your little one is beginning to explore the art of walking, you can implement some of my favorite activities mentioned below to assist them with independent walking.
When you notice your baby is comfortable pulling up, they can begin cruising. It’s essentially sideways walking while holding onto furniture or any object, such as a sofa, bed frame, couch, or anything else! Cruising enables babies to walk independently as they receive stable support.
You can enhance this by introducing an incentive, such as placing their favorite toys or something of interest at the opposite end of the furniture for them to hold onto while walking.
They will most likely begin with wobbly steps, but with some practice, they will start mastering it in no time. In addition to enhancing walking skills, cruising also promotes the development of your baby’s muscles and mental strength.
Just like how adults squat to strengthen their glutes, babies can do so too.
For starters, let your child pick objects by squatting. It’s a great way to build lower body strength and teach your baby how to transfer weight while standing.
3. Reaching for Objects
Another thing that I liked doing particularly with my 2nd boy was getting him to reach for objects nearby.
This not only helps improve their reactions but also teaches them how to shift their weight or rotate their body while standing. You can use various types of objects, including toys, balls, cars, and more.
4. Practicing Walking Barefoot
My pediatrician on multiple occasions advised me to get my kids to walk barefoot indoors. This lets them experience different sensations from the bottom of their feet. The sensory receptors on their soles called proprioceptors, work by sending the brain information about their feelings.
Your baby’s mind will process these senses that help in teaching posture and balance while walking.
5. Holding objects in both hands while standing
Another great way to get your baby to learn body balance and posture is by giving them an object to hold that requires both hands. By doing so, you’re discouraging the use of external support, and encourage the kid to use their balance and leg strength to maintain balance.
It’s a simple yet highly effective way to help them develop the skills of walking independently.
6. Crawling Up Stairs
You might think I’m crazy for suggesting this, but just like adults have stair masters, stair crawling is excellent for these tiny humans.
Considering the potential dangers, it’s important to be close to your baby at all times during this activity. Ideally, both partners should be present.
Simply get them to crawl up and down the stairs, and this will boost their trunk and lower body strength. And do this only for small durations, it isn’t a proper leg day for the toddlers yet!
7. Stand-to-Sit Transitions
Another helpful activity to encourage your toddler’s independent walking is stand-to-sit transitions.
This involves your child pulling themselves up and then sitting from a half-kneeling position, which strengthens their hip movements and balancing skills.
8. Practice Walking in Different Environments
Lastly, changing the walking environment can spark a fresh way and motivate your baby to walk.
Try taking them to outdoor parks, indoor gyms, or houses of friends and family. Such different settings will allow them to face challenges, explore new corners, and develop social skills.
Safety Tips for Using Baby Walkers
Now, the next thing I want to talk about here is baby walkers.
When many parents see their babies start crawling or walking while holding onto objects or furniture, the immediate thought that comes to mind is to get them a walker for more independent movement.
As a parent myself, I strongly advise against the use of traditional walkers due to the various risks they pose. I’ve already covered this topic, and you can check out why I don’t recommend baby walkers.
However, if you still decide to get one for your child, or perhaps opt for a simple push walker or something similar, please make sure to:
1. Baby-proof the house
Baby walkers essentially provide wheels for your little ones. They start to roll and move around, and they also gain a bit of height due to the standing position. So it’s crucial that you take all necessary precautions to baby-proof your house. This includes:
- Keep your floors clean and free from loose rugs to avoid your little one tipping over or the wheels getting caught in them.
- Start your baby off walking in a nice, open area. But don’t forget to scan the space for anything potentially hazardous or fragile that they might get into.
- Consider adding baby gates near stairs or rooms you want to keep them out of.
- And lastly, cover or remove any sharp edges that could meet your baby’s head level. Safety first, right?
2. Avoid forced push-walking
Babies can be quite moody when it comes to learning new things!
Sometimes, they will be eager to jump onto a walker whereas there will be days when they will be slow. Let their brain and body sync up naturally, and don’t intervene.
Never push the walker (gently or hard) even if they start showing signs of walking. Just encourage them, and celebrate every tiny step that they take.
3. Adjust the walker to the right height:
Usually, walkers are height-adjustable, so make sure it’s adjusted correctly for your baby’s height.
If using a traditional walker, pay close attention to your baby’s posture, as you don’t want them slouching or putting pressure on their back or joints while using it.
4. Organize your furniture
I’m a big fan of organizing and keeping my house de-cluttered (like you didn’t already know).
By rearranging your furniture or moving it slightly, you should be able to increase the space for your little one to explore significantly.
Beware of tripping hazards, including wires and cords, and keep your console tables or coffee tables free from vases or items that your baby might grab onto and drop on themselves.
5. Use the walker for just 15-20 minutes a day
I personally recommend putting a limit of around 15-20 minutes a day on/in the walker. My pediatrician has told me about research about walkers causing delays in baby’s walking, so better to stay on the safe side.
A quick tip: Use a timer or a stopwatch app to monitor your baby’s timings.
Walking In Children: Frequently Asked Questions
Most parents slowly start losing their patience when their kids start to walk. Let’s see what parents have been frequently asking.
At what age will my baby walk independently?
Remember, every kiddo develops at their own pace. Usually, babies start walking independently between the ages of 9 to 18 months, as mentioned earlier.
How can I get my baby to walk faster?
In my opinion, you shouldn’t compare your baby’s growth to anyone else’s or against set benchmarks. Every baby is different, and their pace of development varies.
If you have concerns about your baby’s development, consulting with a pediatrician would be a good start, as they can provide you with the necessary personalized guidance and reassurance.
How can I strengthen my baby’s legs for walking?
Babies are incredibly quick learners, but those wobbly steps might make you a bit nervous as they require constant support.
To start, try walking by holding them around their rib cage. You can also encourage standing and play by placing toys high on the coffee table.
Does massaging legs help the baby walk independently?
Regular massages although not mandatory help move your baby’s muscles and get that blood flowing. Personally, I loved giving my kids massages regularly for all the benefits they bring, and I never specifically associated them with walking.
To wrap it up, I would reiterate that encouraging safe and independent walking isn’t definitely an easy task. It takes patience and time.
But always remember to pay close attention to the kids to prevent accidents and, most importantly, cherish all of these precious moments. Before you know it, those tiny feet will be running everywhere! I can’t even tell you how much I miss those days, and the memories whenever I see the photo albums and pictures of my toddlers.