Toddler
12th Nov 2020

From bum shuffling and crawling to their first wobbly steps, learning to walk is undoubtedly one of your little one’s biggest milestones. Not only are they learning an all-new mode of transportation, but they’re also embarking on a journey towards becoming their independent, adventurous self.

Before they become a walking and talking tot, there are some things you can do to help support their first steps. But remember, a few tumbles and trips can often be part and parcel of them becoming comfortable on their feet.

When Do Babies Start Walking? 1, 3

Typically, babies start walking between eight and 18 months old, usually preceded by crawling between 6-13 months old and standing between 9-12 months.

When your little one starts to take their first steps, they are likely to be flat-footed or inclined to turn their feet inwards. This is due to muscle strength and ligament stiffness needing to catch up to other development. For most children. The flat-footedness should improve as their bones develop and their feet strengthen.

Every child is unique and their experience of learning to walk will be no different, so it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have about your little one’s development with your health professional.

How Does Walking Develop? 1, 3

Although their special first steps may seem a little wobbly, they’re a clear indicator that your bub has developed skills in balance, coordination, standing up to support their body weight on their legs. While this may sound daunting, these skills are gradually accrued during your little one’s first year of life.

Like learning any skill at any stage of life, each new one developed builds on one previously learnt. As your little one was busily crawling and pulling themselves up to stand, they were also building the muscle strength and coordination skills to eventually support them to walk walking.

How To Help Support Your Child 2-3

Although their first steps may seemingly come out of the blue, there are a number of ways to support your little one in learning the foundational skills that will ultimately support their long-term walking. Prior to them running off on their feet, your little one may find it helpful to become familiar with standing, pulling themselves up, and taking assisted steps before confidently walking alone.

Why not try the following activities and exercises to help get your little one prepped for life on their feet?

Practice Standing

To help them your bub get accustomed to standing, you might find it helpful to hold them in an upright position against a supportive surface. This includes:

  • Stand them up on your knees while you are in a seated position.
  • Position your little one so they are standing with their feed at the back of a sofa, with their back leant up against the cushions.

Encourage Them to Reach

Placing toys just out of their reach or on a low table may also encourage your child to pull themselves up to reach for them while playing.

Once they’ve mastered this important step, you may also like to try placing the objects further and further away to  teaching them how to move sideways or move forward while standing.

Position Them Upright

As well as strategically placing toys, you may like to also position your little one in a walking position when the opportunity presents itself.

For example, when you set them down after holding them, gently place them in a walking position (standing upright on their feet) instead of seating them on their bottom. This may signal to them to take a few steps to help make them more comfortable in this stance.

Utilise a Push Toy

To help steady your child as they learn balance and coordination, you may like to purchase them a push toy that they can use to steady themselves as they take a few steps.

A play shopping trolley, lawn mower or truck can help provide your child with stability as they push it in front of them (similar to the function of a walking frame). It’s best to purchase a sturdy toy with a bar or handle they can hold onto and lean on, with larger wheels to help the toy remain upright against their weight.

As milestones gradually tick off while your child grows and develops, walking ranks highly for many parents as a special moment in seeing their little one start their journey on growing up.

While your little one’s curiosities expand and their legs take them to new and exciting places, it’s important to remember that every child’s experience with walking is unique to them. So, if you have any concerns about their development, speak with your health professional.

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References

  1. pregnancybirthbaby.org.au. (n.d.). {{meta.og.title}}. [online] Available at: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/learning-to-walk.
  2. gov.au. (2012). Children’s feet and shoes. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/childrens-feet-and-shoes.
  3. BabyCenter Australia. (2011). Developmental milestones: walking. [online] Available at: https://www.babycenter.com.au/a6507/developmental-milestones-walking.

 

 

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