While some children learn to walk early, some take a little longer. But even before a baby actually starts walking, he begins learning to walk. Attempting to sit, roll over, crawl or bounce in your lap are a baby’s way of preparing to stand up and walk. While your toddler is diligently engaged in learning to walk, you can also pitch in with some help from your side as well.
1. Motivate and develop self-confidence: How soon a toddler learns to walk depends on her motivation and confidence levels. These, in turn, depend on how strong her muscles are and how well coordinated her movements are. So, increase your toddler’s motivation and confidence levels by making her engage in activities that will develop and strengthen her muscles. Some of the activities you can do to strengthen the muscles are making her do bicycling movements, pulling her up to a standing position, and encouraging her to pick up objects and observe it. Although all these activities may look simple to you, they go a long way in strengthening the muscles and developing coordination.
2. Provide opportunities for practise: Once your toddler begins to pull himself up to a standing position and walk a few steps by taking support of furniture and objects, take advantage of his behaviour. Usually, toddlers walk towards things that are of interest to them. So, identify your little one’s favourite objects and place them in different areas of the room or the house. Then, arrange the furniture in such a way that he can take their support and walk towards these objects. This will provide him with the opportunity to practise walking more.
3. Support your toddler: Some toddlers move a lot by holding on to furniture or objects but may be reluctant to walk without support. If your toddler is also hesitant to let go of support and begin walking alone, you should come to her aid. Hold her hands and walk behind her. Over a period, this will help her gain the balance and confidence to walk without any support.
4. Take your toddler out: Children learn by imitation. Take your toddler out to public places like parks or gardens where he can both watch people walking around as well as practise walking. Looking at people engaged in walking will motivate your toddler to imitate them. Also, take along a soft ball that your toddler can play with. Roll the ball away from him and encourage him to go and get it back. You can also hold him up in your arms and swing him such that his legs kick the ball. Most toddlers enjoy this and will eagerly go and get the ball back to kick it again.
5. Get proper footwear: Footwear plays an important role in preventing falls and maintaining balance while walking. Buying sneakers is a good option as they are made of soft material that moulds itself according to the child’s foot and forms a perfect fit. Also, while choosing sneakers make sure that the soles aren’t too soft; they will increase the risk of slipping and falling.
6. Don’t discourage or scare your child: As your toddler learns to walk, she will lose her balance and fall or bump into objects. All these can hurt her and dent her confidence. In such situations, don’t wince or show your concern as it can scare her. Instead smile at her and encourage her to try doing it again.
As your toddler begins to walk, he will start exploring the house and its surroundings. Ensure that you childproof your house by blocking stairs, securing objects that may fall easily, covering electrical sockets, putting pads on sharp edges, removing objects made of glass or chinaware that may break easily and so on. Appreciate your child’s efforts and keep supporting and encouraging him, and soon you will see him break into a run.