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How to encourage your baby to walk

Watching your child take their first steps is one of the most exciting milestones for a parent. This initial wobbly walk is likely to take place between the ages of nine and 14 months. But it’s important to remember that all children develop at different rates, and certain biological developments need to happen before your child is ready to take their first steps. 

Sitting, crawling and squatting: Key Foundations for Walking

By the time they’re getting ready to walk, your child will have been practising sitting unaided and strengthening those core muscles they need for walking. This usually happens between the ages of four and seven months old.

Between seven and ten months of age, they may also be crawling. Although not all babies crawl before walking, for those that do, crawling can help them build the flexibility, muscle and coordination needed for walking. 

Your child is likely to become a pro squatter at this stage. As their thigh muscles develop and grow stronger, they’ll start raising and lowering themselves through this squatting movement. 

Balancing and Cruising: The Precursors to First Steps

Once your child has the strength, at around eight to nine months old, they will begin to pull themselves up using furniture and other props around them.

When they are standing, they will practise balancing and might let go of the prop for increasing amounts of time. At this stage, your child will enjoy cruising around your furniture, so make sure it’s safe for them and there are no sharp edges to bump their heads on.

3 tips for helping your baby walk

Whether your baby is sitting, cruising or taking tentative steps, here are a few ideas to support their development.

 

1. Ride-on Bikes and Cars

You can help your baby walk by giving your child a ride-on bike or car that they can sit on and use their feet to propel forward. It’s a great way to help them strengthen those thigh muscles.

2. Supported Steps

Once your child has gained confidence in pulling up and balancing, you can take their hands and support them to take a few steps. Try not to hold their hands up and ‘walk’ them before they have achieved this stage on their own, as their muscles may not be developed enough.

3. Push toys

You can introduce wooden push toys or trolleys to help your baby walk once your child is stable enough to balance and propel the toy forward. Try to avoid baby walkers as these can interfere with their natural development, but if you do use them, then make sure that your child isn’t in them for long periods and that they are always supervised.

Encouraging Tentative First Steps

If your baby has mastered the cruising stage, you can help your baby walk by encouraging them to take independent steps. 

Kneel a little way from where your child is standing and hold your hands out towards them. Use words of encouragement to entice them to take steps towards you. 

The walk-wobble-bottom bump stage will be repeated (a lot) as they test out and refine their newfound skill. Praise and encourage your child to help build their confidence; they’re taking a big step (Literally!).

Every Child Has Their Own Timetable

All children develop at different rates, so it’s important not to compare your child to those around them. 

Some children crawl first, others go straight into walking. Some children are keen to get up and moving, and others wait until they are good and ready. 

Look at ways to encourage your baby to walk if they are already pulling themselves up to stand, walking whilst holding onto furniture, taking a few independent steps or standing holding onto supports. 

If your child isn’t walking by 15 months, there is normally nothing to worry about, and they’re likely just taking their own time. But if you have any concerns, you should speak to your health visitor, doctor or your child’s key person at their nursery.

At N Family Club, we closely monitor the children’s development and are always happy to talk about any worries parents might have.