How can I help my baby learn to walk? Best exercises to encourage a baby to walk
Take baby steps to teach your baby how to walk! Here are some of the easy and fun ways to be a part of the process and teach your baby how to walk.
For new parents, it might seem like your baby is learning new things every day! The early milestones of rolling, sitting up, crawling, bottom shuffling and standing up, all have a purpose. Encouraging them during all these stages is what goes into how to help a baby walk. As a parent, walking is one of the most exciting skills you might be waiting to teach them.
Walking might be something most of us take for granted, but it isn’t as simple for your baby. Just think of the coordination a gymnast needs to walk a balance beam. It is no different for your baby. They need to learn balance control, hip stability, get leg strength and, above all, confidence. You can help them develop these skills with a number of exercises to encourage your baby to walk.
Stages in walking development
Babies learn to walk between 12 to 18 months. Some might walk earlier or even later, your baby knows best when they are ready.
Babies usually start sitting up around 4 months and this is their first stage in mobility. They begin crawling at around 6 months. At this stage, they learn coordination, as crawling needs them to move their arms and legs at the same time. This is why, at first, you see your baby swaying backwards and forwards in one spot but they might not be ready to take off.
There are a number of signs a baby will walk soon. Once they have mastered the art of crawling, they will start pulling themselves up to a standing position between 8 to 10 months. This is the time most parents start asking “How can I help my baby learn to walk?” We have got the answer for you! Just remember that if your baby is a bottom shuffler, then it might take a little longer for them to start walking.
How can I help my baby learn to walk?
Our first answer to your question “how can I help my baby learn to walk?” is just this – praise, encourage and cheer them on. Babies love to hear your encouragement and it helps them to master the difficult art of walking. Apart from this, there are many ways how to help baby walk.
- Make it a game – Babies try to imitate whatever you do and making it a game will encourage them to try new things. These games will also build up their muscles and help them learn coordination.
- Make your home safe – Baby-proof your home. Remove any slippery rugs that your baby can trip over. Ensure that there is no sharp-edged furniture at your baby’s height that might hurt them. If they associate pain with walking, it might discourage them from trying.
- Walking barefoot – Babies learn a lot by feel. Allow them to be barefoot while at home so that they get to learn to walk more easily. Different surfaces require them to use different muscles. By feeling the ground, they learn to adjust their balance.
- Avoid baby walkers – Many parents think that baby walkers help their children to learn to walk. This is really not true. It does not help your baby to develop the strength they need to start walking unaided. These walkers can also cause injury if your child trips over. So before you decide to buy it, make sure you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a baby walker.
Games and exercises to encourage baby to walk
Walking needs terrific muscle strength. Helping your baby develop strength and coordination is easier when you do it in the form of a game. Baby loves playing with you, and your encouragement will make them try even harder. Here are a few exercises to encourage baby to walk.
1. Bouncy game
Your baby around the age of 5 months will be able to take some weight on their legs if you support them. Their first reflex will be to start bouncing. Bouncing is the perfect way to build core muscle strength. If your baby can’t take weight on their legs by the time they are 8 months, you should consult with your paediatrician to identify any issues they might be facing.
Once your baby has learnt to hold things and stand up with your support, then it is time to move to more advanced games. You could get a large ball on which they can sit comfortably without their feet touching the floor. The only support you should give baby is by holding their hips. This will make them use muscles to support their torso. Roll the ball gently backwards and forwards and side to side. They will have to use the muscles of their upper body to maintain balance.
2. Cruise control
Your baby, anywhere between 7 to 10 months, will start to try to stand up. You can encourage them by placing a toy on a couch or table that allows them support to pull themselves up to get it. It requires a lot of muscle power for a baby to get into a squat and pull themselves up, so make sure they get a lot of praise. Praise is an essential tool in how to help baby walk faster.
Once they have learnt to pull themselves up to a standing position and are confident, they will try to take their first steps with support. This is called cruising and the game has to change a little. Once they stand up to get the toy that you have placed on the couch, gently take it out of their little grasp. Make sure they know it is still a game or they might burst out crying. Place it a few paces ahead of them on the couch so that they learn to take a few steps forward, still holding the couch seat for support. Once they have mastered this, probably after a few weeks, they will be ready to let go of the support and take their first tentative steps.
3. Walk and tumble
Once your baby learns to stand, some parents hold out their hands to help them walk. When you do this, have you noticed that your baby tends to lean forward and also takes quick steps? This is because when you hold their hands, their center of gravity shifts forward and to try to regain it, they take those quick little steps. Instead, kneel in front of them and hold them around their torso. This gives them the right support to find their balance. Cheer them on with every step they take.
When your baby first tries to start walking, their feet will be wide apart and they will walk sideways as they learn to balance. Parents should be prepared for the fact that they are going to tumble a lot. However, if you don’t make a fuss, your baby probably won’t care about it either.
After a couple of months of baby steps, your child will soon be more confident and start running around. Initially, they will be on their tippy toes when running but that will soon change. However, if it persists for a few months, then you should inform your paediatrician. Most babies will segue into running quite smoothly. Catching up with them will give you, their parents, a whole lot of exercise. To ensure your baby is reaching all their developmental milestones, connect with the best paediatricians from your city on the mfine app.