One of the most exciting milestones a baby reaches is the very first step he or she takes. Parents all over the world have video tapes and pictures of the big day when their precious little babies took his/her very first steps. Some babies begin walking as early as 9 months old while others do not take that first step until 14 months old. Either way parents should not feel disappointed if they do not get an early walker. Everything will happen in its own time. In the meanwhile there are some things parents can do to help prepare and encourage their babies to walk. However, it is important to understand that you cannot push a baby to do something before he/she is ready to do it. Try not to be in a hurry when it comes to your child and the milestones he or she reaches. Remember that your baby will only be a baby once and so you should savor every moment of that time.
Help Your Baby Strengthen His/Her Legs
As soon as your baby is able to put any weight on his or her legs, usually right around five or six months of age, you should provide him/her with some sort of a walker or bouncy chair that will enable him or her to start building up the muscles in his/her legs. In addition, you can hold your baby’s hands and allow him or her to stand upright and even walk around the room with your help. The more time your baby spends exercising his/her legs, the sooner he/she will begin trying to take steps independently. One thing to keep in mind while you are helping your baby strengthen his or her legs is that you should never force your baby to walk or stand if he or she does not want to. This can instill fear in your baby that could further prevent him or her from walking.
Provide Push Toys
Once your baby has mastered the walker and is literally zooming around your living room then it will be time to move him or her to the next step. There are many toys which are intended for early walkers and these toys work by allowing your baby to push them along while walking behind. For beginners it is recommended that you start with a toy that does not have wheels. Once you are confident that your baby is strong enough and ready then you can introduce push toys with wheels. One of the most popular toys that parents buy to help their babies learn to walk independently is a small buggy that looks almost like a shopping cart. Babies seem to enjoy these as they push them along, stopping to pick up various toys and put them in the basket as they go. Usually by the time your baby is confident enough to walk along pushing one of these carts he or she will be very close to walking on his or her own.
Give Praise for a Job Well Done
Any time your baby does anything creative or spectacular is very important that you praise him or her immediately. Babies seem to be born with an inherent desire to please mom and dad and receiving praises, claps and shouts of encouragement never fails to put a big smile on baby’s face. In addition, if your baby knows that he or she has just done something to please you, he or she is bound to try and replicate what he or she has just done. Some parents find that if they stand on the other side of the room and offer encouragement that their babies will attempt to walk to them. Remember that you must act like this is one big party.
Why Do Some Babies Take Longer to Walk Than Others?
There are many reasons that a baby may take longer to start walking. Each child is an individual and will do things at his or her own pace. Sometimes an overweight baby will have trouble taking steps or will just be too lazy to do so. If a baby was born prematurely then he or she may also have trouble reaching milestones at the same rate as other children who were born at full-term. If your child has not reached 15 months of age then there is no reason to be concerned if he or she will not walk independently. This is especially true if he or she will walk while pushing something or leaning on something. You do not have to be concerned that his or her legs did not work properly. Sometimes babies are just frightened to let go and take that first step. This is why your encouragement and support will be all the more necessary. If you have real concerns about your baby not walking them the best thing to do is consult with your pediatrician to be sure that everything is physically alright with your child.
Sometimes your baby will surprise you and begin walking out of the blue. Other times you will watch helplessly as your baby crawls around, refusing to walk no matter what you try. While there are some things you can do to help encourage your baby to walk, the truth of the matter is that your baby will walk when he or she is ready and not a moment sooner. Take heart in knowing that eventually your child will walk and once he or she starts, chances are there will be no stopping him or her! If you have a late boomer when it comes to walking count your blessings and be thankful for every moment that you do not spend running around on the heels of your toddler keeping him or her out of everything under the sun.