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Your baby will have several developmental milestones during her early childhood. From learning how to roll on her back to smiling back at you, every adorable little thing is a development milestone. One of the most prominent among them all is the time when your baby learns to stand up on her own feet and walk her first steps.
When Does a Baby Learn to Walk?
Most babies walk around 10 to 12 months of age. Some babies may walk even earlier, at around nine months. Other may take up to one and a half years too. This may be dependent on factors such as the baby’s genetics, her physical strength as well as her determination.
Baby Walking Milestones
Throughout her first year, your baby is developing muscle strength and coordination that can aid in helping her stand up and walk. Here are some of the important milestones or stages of walking in a baby.
- A new-born baby when held upright will let her legs dangle and try to push her little feet against any hard surface. Even though her legs aren’t strong enough, she will continue to do this for a few months.
- At about six months of age, as your baby learns to sit, crawl and roll, she will also begin to bounce her feet every time you let her balance her legs on your thighs or a surface.
- Around nine months, she will begin to pull herself up with the support of furniture. At this point ensure to keep only sturdy things around to prevent accidents.
- Around 9 to 10 months of age, your baby will learn to bend her knees and sit down from a standing position. Quite a task for a 10-month-old!
- Around 12 months, she may begin taking a few steps forward with some support or even stand without any assistance. It is also possible that she may walk holding on to your hand.
- At 12 months, most toddlers learn how to walk although they may be a little unsteady. If your baby hasn’t walked at 12 months, she may probably need a few more months, and that is entirely alright.
How to Help Your Baby Walk?
If your baby is taking longer to walk or even if she is right on track, you can want to help her build muscle strength to aid her walking. Here are a few ways on how to encourage your baby to walk.
1. Exercises to Help Baby Walk
You can try simple exercises to help your baby strengthen her muscles and walk:
- Sitting on a stool: Get a baby-sized stool without back support and let your baby sit on this. She should be able to touch her feet to the ground and push them to the ground. Have her seated with her hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Always have an adult nearby to supervise. Place a few toys near her and ask her to bend and pick them up while she is seated on the stool. You can try moving the toys around to increase the distance and reach.This exercise can strengthen the muscles on the shoulders, the legs, and the back, as well as help her learn how to place her feet directly below her body while supporting her weight.
- Let her cruise: You can help her stand up against the support of the sofa. With one hand on the sofa and the other hand gripping your hand, help her walk back and forth across the sofa. Eventually, she may let your hand go and walk only with the support of the sofa. You can also keep a favourite toy or her favourite snacks as an incentive on the far end of the sofa.
- Kick while cruising: This is a fun exercise for your baby. As she is walking next to the sofa with support from the furniture, you can place a ball near her feet. Although she may kick accidentally the first few times, if you are consistent, she will begin raising her leg to kick the ball out of her way. You can keep the ball near both her feet to encourage her to practice kicking the ball using both the feet.
- Assisted walking: You will need to hold your baby at the upper arms in a standing position and move her arms forward one at a time. Her hips and her legs will follow helping her to walk with some assistance.
2. Games to Teach Your Baby to Walk
Some games are well suited for babies in the process of learning how to walk, and they can be a fun activity that both you and your baby can take part in.
- Get a large ball that your baby can sit on without touching her feet to the floor. Hold your baby at the hips and gently make her sit on the ball, all the while supporting her hips. This allows her to support her trunk. Hold on to her and roll the ball gently back and forth and sideways. As she has to balance her upper body herself, she will be able to develop core strength and stability in the hips.
- Balls in the basket: You can scatter balls or toys on the floor and keep a basket at a distance. Now ask her to pick up toys, crawl all the way to the basket and drop them in. If your baby can stand up and cruise alongside a sofa, then you can place the toys and the basket on either end of the sofa and encourage her to play this game.This can help build coordination and also develop leg muscles. It may even encourage your baby to take her first steps.
- Pass the balloon: Position your baby near a sofa or furniture and while she is standing with the support of the sofa, push a balloon towards her and encourage her to tap it back to you. If she isn’t completely confident to stand and do this, you can allow her to sit and do the same. You can tap the balloon higher to prompt her to pull up to reach for it. You can even try to place the balloon near her feet and teach her to kick it away.This will help develop hand-eye coordination and also build up core muscles.
- Wheelbarrow walk: Place your baby on her tummy on a rug or a soft mat. As she lies on her tummy pull her up holding her trunk and the legs and hold on to her with care as she slowly walks on her hands.This is an important activity to build upper body strength in babies.
Other Safety Tips
- As your baby is learning to walk, you will need to take the right precaution and make the best choices to promote her development. Here are a few tips that you will need to keep in mind.
- Don’t get a walker. Walks are not necessary and may even prevent your baby from learning to walk properly as her hips and torso is tightly held at all times. They may even be dangerous and cause injuries to the baby.
- You can use jumpers within a limit for your baby. Although better than walkers, they do come with their potential risks, especially if the baby isn’t watched. Overuse of jumpers may even lead to the baby not learning how to develop motor skills necessary to walk.
- As your baby begins to crawl and stand with the help of support, you will need to move out any items that can are fragile and can easily fall and harm the baby. Also, smoothen out sharp edges or put them away completely.
Repetition is the key to helping the baby learn how to walk. Hence, it is best to repeat these games and exercises multiple times in a day. It is also preferred that the baby learn how to walk on barefoot to develop a better sense of balance. If your baby does not walk even after 18 months, you should consult a doctor to rule out any developmental delays.