So little miss turned 11 months old recently and for the past month and a half she has been steadily standing all on her own. I swore she would be walking any day and waited for her to confidently take that first step. However here we are at 11 months and 1 week and she is still not attempting to take any steps. She can stand for extended periods of time on her feet with out plopping down… she walks all through the living room while holding onto furniture… but when I reach those arms out to her and try to encourage her to step towards me… she will immediately plop on her bottom and crawl over to me. Her older siblings have been her biggest cheerleaders on the sideline, constantly giving her praise and trying to get her to walk. But still no steps. Is any of this sounding familiar to you? Do you have a little one that is completely ready to start walking but something is just holding them back? Well here are some great tips on how to encourage your baby to walk and build the confidence they need to finally move forward and take that first unassisted step!
Help Strengthen Back Muscles
Do you ever notice that when your back hurts, standing and walking are extremely uncomfortable and sometimes painful? That is because our back muscles have the central role in letting us walk. In order to help your baby strengthen their back muscles, you should encourage them to move their head and neck by showing things that catch their interest. Something else that you can do is to have your baby lie on their stomach. These types of activities teach your baby muscle control and can make them start to walk more quickly.
Balance is very important to your baby when they first begin standing. If they feel wobbly or unbalanced on their feet, then they certainly aren’t going to want to make that step forward. You can begin helping your baby on coordination and balance once they are able to sit up unassisted. Take a ball and roll it towards and away from your baby, this will encourage them baby to keep their balance while moving forward and back, and while moving from one side to the other. This also shows them how their arms play a major factor in balance and their hands are there to help them safely fall.
Engage Your Baby in Games
Your baby can best learn to walk if you play fun games and involve them in interesting activities. Play a chasing game by having your baby crawl to chase you, in turn your baby will learn to crawl faster and learn to better control their hands and legs. It’s all about building their confidence, practice and improving their balance.
Any mother will tell you how inconvenient baby shoes are and keeping them on your baby’s feet is a task on its own. Thankfully babies walk easily barefoot (because their feet can grip the surface far more easily when left bare) so we have a fabulous excuse to allow baby to let those little toes free! While socks and/or shoes are very important in many areas outdoors, you may find that your child has a difficult time trying to walk while wearing them. Shoes can also be a bit of a distraction, the first time I placed sneakers on my baby’s feet, she spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out what they were and then she attempted to remove them.
Encourage Attempts at Reaching for Things
This is one of my older kids favorite thing to do when trying to get their baby sister to walk. They have gotten her to move one step forward a bunch of times and I think she is really starting to pick up on their reactions and how excited they get for her. If your baby doesn’t have ambitious older siblings, you could also place some of your their favorite toys in front of them. Help stand them up on two legs and encourage them to get their toys. It’s always a good idea to pick toys that are their favorites, or toys they know by name.
Assist Your Baby’s Walking
You are the center of the universe to your baby and they love everything about you! Your tone, your expressions… that all matters when assisting your baby in walking. It is also important to know how to correctly assist your baby when they begin to walk. You should start with supporting your baby above the ribs and when they become more stable, you should support them around the hips to ensure their core muscles remain strong and stable.
Activate Cruise Control
Your baby might be an expert when it comes to standing, but their fear of falling may be the reason they have not started walking yet. You can help alleviate your baby’s fears by placing furniture in the path where he is supposed to walk, or you could offer them your hand. It’s very important that when placing furniture for them to use to ensure that there are no sharp lining or edges. We have found that ottomans work best, they are right at baby’s level and you don’t have to worry about them getting injured.
Try Push or Pull Toys
There are so many great push toys out there that can help baby stand and walk. As soon as your baby starts standing on his own without much assistance, their confidence will start to soar and so will their ability to walk. Push toys can play a big part at this stage of walking. Just make sure that the first few times your baby used a push toy, you assist them. It is going to take them a few times to realize that this toy will keep going and they must move and stop it all on their own. The last thing you want is to set up a push toy, let baby go and witness her fly across the room in fear! It’s going to take them a bit to understand how to maneuver a push toy, but the will gain their confidence in no time!
(Sorry for the poor quality photo! She starting taking off in this push toy for the first time and I grabbed my phone to quickly get some photos!)
This can be a very exciting time but there is something very important you need to remember when encouraging your baby to walk… do not get upset with them! Do not force your baby to walk, despite how eager you may be. Every baby is different, they hit milestones at different times and will get there when they are ready. Don’t focus on the numbers, your child will learn to walk eventually, I promise! My oldest was walking a few months after her first birthday while my second was already cruising around on his feet at ten months old. That says a lot about their personalities, my oldest is cautious and observant, she needs to know all the facts and doesn’t immediately jump in, so to speak. My son on the other hand it the wild child, fearless and a non stop ball of energy. Either way they both started walking when it felt right to them and that’s all that matters.