Walking is a major milestone in a baby’s life. Just in the same way that you rejoice when your baby gains the ability to walk, the too baby too rejoices. He/she suddenly comes to realize that he/she is no longer restricted to rolling and crab walking around.
Babies generally begin to walk by their first anniversary. However, it can take as short as 9 months or as long as 17 months for some babies to walk. What you need to note is the fact that walking is an art that your baby needs to learn and master. Your help and assistance becomes very necessary.
How do you teach your baby to walk?
You should be prepared to teach your baby how to walk long before he/she starts to show signs that he/she is ready. Your baby’s attempts to get hold of things such as furniture in the house should serve as a clears sign that he/she is ready to make those important initial steps. This is the time to do a number of things.
Your first task should be to baby proof the house and in particular rooms where your baby is more likely to venture into. This is the time to clear the floor of any hazards in addition to installing stair gates for safety reason. This is also the time to ensure that you have toys that will be helpful in teaching him/her how to walk.
Like with every other baby, your baby’s first attempt at walking will be the attempt to stand up while holding onto something including the wall. Your baby is most likely to attempt to stand up in complete silence with signs of fear written all over his/her face. This is the time to come in to reassure and encourage him/her. Speak soft words of encouragement and do not get disappointed when he/she falls back to a sitting position. Falling will be a common problem.
It will not take long before your baby masters to stand comfortably with his/her hands on the wall or furniture. He/she is naturally bound to attempt cruising along the wall. This is a very important stage where your baby needs all your help. You need to be around to encourage him/her to cruise along. A good idea is to place a toy some meters away along the wall. Your baby will naturally attempt to cruise in an attempt to reach the toy. This is also the time to line up your furniture or arrange them in such a way that your baby can cruise while holding onto them. This is the time to hold one of his/her hands to help him/her cruise along. He/she will naturally hold on to the wall with the other finger as he/she tries to balance.
The next stage, which can be either two or three weeks after mastering how to cruise, can be very surprising. It is similar to the time you watched as your baby made his/her first roll to graduate from lying on the back to lying on his/her stomach. Your baby is bound to avoid cruising along the wall or furniture, but will instead attempt to stand up without holding onto something. However, he/she will be hesitant to move the legs. Falling back to a sitting position will once again be common. The best you can do at this stage is to hold both of his/her hands to help him/her move along.
Your baby’s instinct will always prompt him/her to stand up and he/she expects you to be around to provide the necessary help. Make it a point to approach your baby whenever he/she stands up. Hold one hand instead of both and try walking him/her along. Consider pacing a toy several meters away and try walking him/her toward the toy. Doing so does not only serve to strengthen his/her leg muscles but also helps him/her learn how to balance.
Just like with a baby’s first roll that most parents or mothers do miss, you are most likely to miss the first time your baby makes his/her first step without any form of support, unless you are very keen. Your baby is most likely to stand up and move his/her strong leg forward. However, bringing the other leg along will be a problem because he/she is bound to be overwhelmed with the joy of ability to move a leg. He/she is most likely to fall back to a sitting position before standing up again. Like in the other stages, you need to come in to help. The main thing at this stage is lack of balance, which you can help your baby to gain by holding one of his/her hands and walking along together.
You will have taught your baby how to walk. However, the fact that your baby is able to balance and move both legs does not mean that he/she is fully prepared to walk with ease. Although he/she will be able to move both legs without any support, he/she will still be fearful. Your baby will still need to practice and it can take 1,000 hours of practice before he/she masters the art of walking.
Some common mistakes that you must avoid when teaching your baby how to walk include investing baby shoes for the training. It is best to let your baby learn how to walk on bare feet or with a pair of socks on. Investing in a walker, an elliptical or a bouncing chair is also not a good idea. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, investing in the same simply puts your baby at risk of injuries. Indeed, it is not surprising that use of walkers is banned in some countries.