Learning to Walk
Babies that are ready to walk can pull themselves up on furniture and are cruising. Cruising is when the child holds onto furniture and walks sideways. When they begin to stand farther away and use the furniture only for balance they are ready to begin trying to walk. Other signs that your baby is ready to walk is if he can crab walk, scoot along the floor and/or climb stairs using his hands.
Walking is a complex skill that takes many hours of practice to perfect. You can help your child by:
- Making sure that he gets plenty of tummy time starting when he's small so he can develop strong back muscles that will help him walk later on.
- Once your baby can sit without assistance, help him develop balance by rolling a ball back and forth to your baby. The lunging and reaching motions made during the game stretch and develop the muscles your baby will need to walk.
- If your baby can stand unassisted, help him to walk by holding his hands and leading him along.
If your baby is cruising, walking may be just around the corner, so you need to assess your home to see what needs childproofing:
- If your coffee table has sharp edges, now is the time to put it into storage or cover the edges securely with cushioning.
- Check to see that any furniture in the room your child is allowed to cruise in does not topple over easily. Remove top heavy items or bolt them to the wall.
- Make sure all power cords are up out of your child's reach.
- Take up all throw rugs and see that all walking surfaces are in good repair.
- Have your older children keep their toys cleaned up (easier said than done!).
- Install safety gates at the tops and bottoms of all staircases in your home.
- Put all household chemicals and other dangerous items out of baby's reach and under lock and key.
- Walkers were popular baby equipment in the past, but due to the fact that they have been associated with serious and even fatal injuries to children, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the use of them.
Beginning walkers should not wear shoes while they are in the house as they can grip the floor better and exercise the muscles of their feet better when they are barefoot. That said, your child will need a pair of shoes when he's walking outside. Here are some shoe shopping tips:
- Shop for shoes in the afternoon, because feet expand by as much as 5% by the end of the day!
- When you check the shoe to see if it fits, your child should be standing. There should be one thumb's width of room between where the toes end and the end of the shoe, and your pinkie finger should be able to fit in the space between the heel and the shoe.
- Let your child wear the shoes in the store for 5 minutes or so. Then take the shoes off and examine your child's feet for any red spots that indicate irritation. If you see any signs of irritation, find another pair of shoes.
Hey! We have more information about your child's development! Check it out at this development page!