It’s true that every child develops in their own time and T was no different. At 10 months old he was holding our hands, toddling along. We were convinced he was well on his way to walking and predicted that he would be an early walker.
Jump to the present day at 14 months old, T has only just gained the confidence to toddle off on his own. Despite taking his first unaided steps at 11 months, he has spent the last 3 months clinging on for dear life, terrified to stand alone. As I’ve never wanted to force him, I’ve watched him as he walked around the walls and furniture or used his push along train to move from A to B. But I do ask myself whether there was a way that I could have gently encouraged him rather than leaving him to it, knowing the he could walk unaided.
I decided to ask some fellow parents what their top tips to encourage baby to walk and this is what they said:
(Please note that this post is for the purpose of building confidence not forcing your baby to walk!)
8 Ways to Encourage Baby to Walk
- Place furniture a short distance away so that your baby can toddle from one to the other. You can increase the gap as your child builds confidence.
- Beth at Twinderelmo found that her kids were more confident wearing little shoes.
- Positive reinforcement! Make a fuss over even the littlest of steps. Simone at Dog Day and Delights also found encouragement to be a factor in building her little one’s confidence.
- Turn it into a game. Enthusiastically count their steps or how long they can stay stood up for. Give them praise after each attempt.
- Soft play is a good way to build muscle, develop balance and combat the fear of falling. Of course, it’s not ideal for learning how to walk due to being on unsteady ground so you’re not going to get a toddler from soft play visits alone!
- Anna from In the Playroom says that another way of building muscle is to encourage them to climb the stairs (with an adult – obviously!). The stronger their muscles, the more confident and sturdy they’ll feel when it comes to standing and walking. (If you’re going to allow them to climb stairs then I would highly recommend getting a stair gate first. It’s amazing how quickly they get up those stairs once they know how!)
- Give them a reason to want to walk. Place a toy or a treat that they will want to reach out to grab. They’ll soon forget they’re taking steps as their focus is elsewhere. Kate from Kate on Thin Ice says Smarties on the arm of a chair worked for her, haha!
- By far the most popular answer was using a push along walker. Jemma (Mayflower Blogs), Lianne (Ankle Biters Adventures), Zoe (Mummy and Liss), Renee (Close Enough to Kiss) and Alison (Five Little Stars) all recommended using one to build confidence. Eventually, their children gained enough confidence to take off on their own! However, it’s important not to allow your child to become too dependant on one (like my child!)
And there we go, 8 ways to encourage baby to walk.
I feel that it’s important to add that your child should not be walking before they are physically able to. There are plenty of resources online which take you through the development stages of learning to walk. I would highly recommend giving those a read.
It is also worth saying that forcing your child to walk is NOT the way to encourage your child. They will let you know when they are ready. The above tips are merely to help build confidence and it’s vital that you go at your baby’s pace. It should be seen as a fun activity that your baby wants to do.