As a parent, I worry about almost everything. Wait! Correction. I do worry about everything. I worry about whether my child is sleeping enough, sleeping too much, eating enough, eating too much, drinking enough, drinking too much and choking, stimulated enough, not stimulated enough etc. Needless to say, I also worried about whether my baby would learn to walk.
Even though I don’t know any baby who doesn’t eventually learn to walk, I still fell prey to the Worry Monster. You see, my baby isn’t very ‘physical-oriented.’ She’s got good finger grip, her communication skills are off the charts (at least, my chart anyway!) and she’s got a 10 million dollar smile.
But she just doesn’t enjoy much physically-robust activities. While other mothers would be worrying about whether their child ran out on the road, scaled their cupboards or somersault off a table, my child never was interested in any of those ‘fun’ activities. She just has a very cautious personality. She would scream if she felt physically unsafe. And yes, she always stuck to my side. I had to use a lot of special strategies and encouragement to get her to crawl. In fact, I think that if she had been left alone, she would have completely not bothered crawling at all.
So you can imagine, that I was worried about when she would actually start walking.
As she neared one year’s old, day after day, I looked for signs to see if she was ready to walk. I waited. And waited.
Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
How I Got My Baby To Walk
- Use a Push Walker
I got a push walker and got her to stand up while holding onto it. She didn’t take any steps but it was a good first move. We practiced this for a week or so. Not all push walkers are created the same and you have to make sure that you purchase a suitable one. Take into consideration your child’s height for example.
- Choose a Suitable Surface
You don’t always have a choice of what kind of surface your baby gets to practice his or her first steps on. But in general, the more slippery the surface, the more falls you can except to happen. Also, the harder the surface, the more painful the falls. If you are blessed with marble floors, buy a carpet to let your baby practice on it. For us, we started off with carpets and then finally, she graduated to hardwood floors.
- Simulate Walking
Although your baby will undoubtedly have watched the way you walk, he or she may still not be able to fully process how to move his or her own feet. You can try to simulate how walking feels like by getting baby to walk forward while you hold each of baby’s hands in your own so that you can provide support. It will not be the best thing for your back but a limited amount of practice everyday will do wonders for your baby.
- Incorporate Other Walking Supports
One of my biggest secrets in getting baby to walk successfully was to use a stroller. Our stroller has a basket at the bottom which happened to be at baby’s hand level when standing up. The stroller was heavy enough that it provided resistance for baby to practice walking forward while holding onto the stroller basket (with me guiding it along too of course). It probably shortened her learning time considerably as she got to practice every time we went out for a walk.
Toys that encourage walking also are another useful and effective option.
- Expose Baby to Other Baby Walkers
Finally, if baby still seems too content to bother learning to walk, try exposing baby to other baby walkers. Peer pressure can be used in a positive way as well as a negative way! I brought baby to the public libraries during Story Time and she got to meet other babies who were already walking. Soon, she realized that she could do it too and she joined the rank of the walking babies! Yahoo!
And if you have done all these things and baby is still not walking by 18 months, contact your doctor for further advice. There may not be a problem but it never hurts to check.
Do you have a parenting struggle or challenge you’d like to write about? If you’re interested in contributing to the My Mountain series please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.