Seeing your child take his first steps is one of the most exciting early milestones. Children go through several developmental stages before learning to walk, including sitting, crawling, pulling up and standing.
While all infants tend to follow the same progression through these stages, no two babies go through them at exactly the same time or exactly the same way. That said, there are still plenty of ways you can help your child along in his journey to walk!
Exercises to Help Your Baby Walk
There are many exercises that you can use to help your baby improve balance, build strength and prepare for walking.
- Sitting on a Stool: When your child is able to sit without help, have her sit on a baby-sized stool so that her back has no support. Be sure an adult is nearby to help and for safety! Her feet should be touching the floor so she can push against it, with her knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. When she is in this position, ask her to reach and pick up a toy on the floor and then sit back on the stool. Move the toy around to increase reach and strengthen different muscles. This exercise strengthens your baby’s leg, back and shoulder muscles. It also helps prepare your infant to position her feet directly under her body to support her weight.
- Cruising: Infants can practice walking by “cruising” back and forth alongside a sofa or short bench. Stand your child next to the sofa and let him hold on with one hand as you hold his other hand for balance. Slowly move back and forth along the furniture and practice walking. Soon he will let go of your hand to practice the activity on his own. If he needs an incentive, you can place his favorite toy on one end of the sofa for him to walk to.
- Cruise and Kick: As your infant is holding onto furniture while cruising, place a foam ball on the floor next to her feet. She may accidently kick the ball at first, but as you keep putting it back by her feet, she will start raising one foot to kick the ball on purpose. Place the ball on both sides of her body so she can practice kicking with both feet.
- Assisted Walking: Stand behind your child, place your hands around his upper arms, and pull him up to a standing position. Gently pull one arm forward and then the other. His feet will naturally follow as he rotates his hips to step. Keep practicing walking until your baby is ready to stop.
Infants learn to walk through repetition, so these activities should be repeated several times each day. Babies also learn to walk more easily if they don’t wear shoes, so make sure your little one has plenty of time barefoot indoors at home as you practice.
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