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How to help your toddler learn to walk

Most babies learn how to walk between 10 and 18 months old. All babies are different though and will learn at their own pace, so don’t fret if your little one isn’t walking before 18 months.

While you can’t actually teach your child to walk the same way you can teach them to ride a bike further down the line, you can encourage and support them on their journey. Here are a few tips to help your baby feel more confident in taking their first unaided steps.

Encourage cruising as much as possible

Cruising is one of the biggest signs that your baby is about to start walking. Once your baby has the muscle development to be able to stand holding onto furniture, it’s time to teach them how to cruise. One of the easiest ways to do this is to place a toy just out of the baby’s reach to encourage them to take side-to-side steps to reach it.

Once they’ve mastered cruising, arrange your furniture so that your baby can easily cruise from one item to another. As they become more confident, you can keep increasing the distance between the furniture items to encourage them to balance and take a step without support.

Remember to constantly update and upgrade your babyproofing around the house to ensure that your child is safe as they learn to walk.

Say goodbye to the walking ring

Once your baby has learned how to crawl and is pulling up on their own, it’s time to put away the walking ring. Your baby needs to learn how gravity and balance work and, while a walking ring may help initially to strengthen the muscles needed to walk, it can potentially delay the process.

Instead of a walker, buy your child push and pull toys. Ensure that the push toy you buy is sturdy and doesn’t roll faster than they’re able to move. Supervise your child at all times when they’re first learning how to use a push toy and be ready to catch them if they fall.

You can also consider buying your child an activity centre once they’ve learned to pull up, as this will encourage them to stand while playing and may tempt them to take steps to move around it.

Carry your child less often around the house

While at home, encourage your child to travel from one place to another on their own. The more they crawl, pull up and cruise on their own, the more they are developing balance, confidence and coordination – which are vital in learning how to take their first independent steps.

Encourage your child to walk barefoot

Avoid hard-soled shoes until your baby can walk unaided. The best way for your baby to learn to walk is barefooted as this allows them to grip the floor and find their balance. If it’s cold, choose non-slip socks for your baby to wear.

Make walking fun

Celebrate your child’s attempts at walking and make it fun. Hold both of their hands and teach them how to take steps. Soon they will want to hold your hands to walk everywhere.

If your child does take a tumble, don’t overreact as this will scare them. Ultimately you don’t want your child to be afraid of falling.

Make sure that your child is in the mood and engaged when helping them to take steps. Forcing them when they’re not in the mood will only frustrate them and create resistance to walking.

The most important thing to remember is that most children do not need to be taught how to walk. If they are developing in a typical way, your child will hit their milestones when they are ready. Don’t push them and compare their development to other babies. All they need from you is love, support and encouragement.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if they aren’t walking by 18 months to ensure that they are developmentally on track.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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