Children generally learn to walk on their own; however, some children need a little bit of assistance in order to take those first few steps. Below are some ideas on how to help encourage your little one to take those first few steps.
Tips To Encourage Your Toddler To Walk
- Make sure that your child has plenty of ‘floor time’ so that they can use their bodies to explore their environment around them. Children that sit in bumbo seats, car seats or jumpers often are more delayed in their gross motor skills because they rely on ‘containers’ to support them and their posture muscles do not have to work hard to support them. Pack-and-Plays and other play pens are great and safe place for your children to play in if you need some time to make dinner, fold laundry, etc.
- When first assisting your child to walk, hold them higher on their trunk, like at their rib cage. As your child becomes more upright and stable, hold your child lower at their hips so they can use their core muscles to help their stability. Holding your child’s fingers above them can encourage a forward base of support and can lead to early toe-walking.
- When a child is cruising at a coffee table, stand behind them so that they have to rotate their trunk away from the table. This will also help them lessen their support as they may take a hand off the table and stand more independently.
- When your child is standing supported at the couch or coffee table, place a toy at their knee level and encourage them to squat down to get the toy. Repetitive squats will help strengthen their hip muscles and help them gain more stability on their feet.
- Use a motivator, such as a puff , small snack, or favorite toy to motivate the child to walk to you. Stand just a few feet away from them on a carpeted surface so that they have plenty of support and traction.
- When the child is inside, have the child just in a diaper when taking early steps. Bulky, winter clothing may be cumbersome and we want the hips and feet to move freely when learning a new gross motor milestone, such as walking.
Most children learn to walk independently between 10 and 15 months. If you or your pediatrician is concerned about your child’s development, feel free to contact a physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy for an evaluation.