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Teaching Your Child to Walk

Learning to walk is one of the major milestones in your child's life, and a time you probably eagerly await.

Children learn to walk when they are developmentally ready, but there are lots of things you can do to support the development of this skill. Your child may learn to walk as early as 8 months old or as late as 18 months of age. Most babies start walking between 9 and 12 months, and are walking with some confidence by the age of 15 months. Bear in mind that all children learn to walk in their own time so do not be overly concerned if your child seems to be taking longer than others. Some children miss out the crawling stage, so do not be surprised if your child has not learnt to crawl and then suddenly starts showing signs of learning to walk!

There are lots of ways you as a parent and carer can encourage your baby to walk.

  • Firstly, ensure your child leads a healthy lifestyle and is active, this will help them develop their muscle strength and coordination, essential for walking.

  • Be conscious of safety when your child is learning to walk and adapt the environment accordingly. Make sure the furniture in your home is safe for your child (without any sharp corners, edges or glass). They will then start to use this to hold on to as it offers them support as they try to move themselves forward. Corner Guards are ideal and help prevent any bruises and knocks. Ensure your home doesn't have any objects lying around which your child could fall on when developing their balance. Clear away toys on the floor storing in toy boxes which are accessible but do not pose a trip hazard. 

  • Once your child is confidently crawling, support them to  learn to walk, by encouraging them to pull themselves up into a standing position, perhaps by holding their hands. Once your child is in a standing position, teach them to bend their knees so they can sit back down. They may get upset at first if they are unsure how to do this, so preserve and teach them this necessary skill. Do not rush or over pressurise your child and accept that they will develop skills at their own pace and when they are developmentally ready. 

  • Spend time holding your child's hands and encouraging them to take steps toward you. The more practice your child has the more likely he or she is to grow in confidence and be ready to try walking independently.  Provide support to your child and always be around them when they are trying to take their first steps. Standing or kneeling in front of them and encouraging them to walk towards you is an ideal way to challenge your child to take their first steps independently.  

  • Offer praise, positive comments and encouragement for all signs of progress, even if small.

  • Let your child practise walking barefoot indoors and avoid shoes which will only make it harder for them to balance. When they are ready to walk outdoors or on a rough surface, ensure they have lightweight and comfortable footwear. By walking barefoot indoors this will improve their balance and coordination.

  • Try passing a Soft Ball back and forth to your baby and encourage them to lightly kick and throw the ball, this will help to develop their hand-eye coordination and balance. When your child becomes more confident with walking they will benefit from and enjoy other toys such as a Baby Walker with Blocks

  • Remember never leave your baby alone as they may need support when they are trying to walk and could easily injure themselves.

  • Once your child shows interest and is beginning to learn to walk, start exploring the outdoors and going for walks in your locality.  Try and match you pace to the walking pace of your child, so they do not get upset at not being able to keep up with you. Also make sure there are not too many distractions and the area you choose is safe for your child.

  • Never force or pressurise your child into walking if they don't seem ready. It is important that the muscles in their legs are properly developed, so they can support their own weight. Patience is crucial as learning to walk requires time, praise and support.

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