By Rebekah Puleo
Are you ready for the most exciting chapter of parenthood? Ok, maybe that’s overstepping a bit since literally everything your baby does for the first time is magical. But this one is a real treat.
We’re talking about the cuteness that is a baby’s first steps. Every parent longs to be there to experience this major accomplishment and celebrate with a huge hug.
And it doesn’t take long for newbie walkers to become pros. Real soon those first humble steps turn into nonstop trotting through the house.
Maybe your arms will be relieved to finally have a break. Or maybe you already miss your soft little baby needing you to be their transportation.
You might also think the newfound freedom your child will have equals less time with you. But here’s some good news – babies who have reached this developmental phase actually become better communicators with their mamas. They also spend more time sharing their adventures with her too₁.
Get excited that this new chapter means your relationship with your child is going to get way more fun!
So how do you help your baby get to those first few steps? We have a few tips!
First Things First: Baby Proof the House… Again.
You might have prepped the house already by covering outlets and sharp corners, but it’s time for an upgrade.
A walking baby is way faster than you think, so you’ve got to plan ahead. Your curious baby is out to explore the house using their newly discovered superpowers.
Start by securing any loose items. Think cords, blankets and even tablecloths. Then onto locks for cabinets, drawers and toilet seat covers to prevent any risky scenarios.
Triple check that all cabinets with cleaning supplies are 100% babyproof. This one is a biggie.
Pet food dishes look like delicious snack bowls to babies. So, your new life with a walking baby means Fido’s bowl stays out of reach.
Lastly, baby gates are a must! Top of the stairs, bottom of the stairs and any room you’d like to keep baby in or out of. Get a higher, well made gate that secures firmly to a door frame or wall. This prevents your little baby ninja from escaping. Because you better believe they will try.
When Will My Baby Walk?
Great question! In short, that’s hard to say. Every baby has their own timeline for when they’re ready to start moving. Generally though, the window is between 9 and 18 months.
There’s a lot that goes into walking that you probably don’t even think about. We’ve got balancing, new use of knees, hip rotation and successfully landing little feet in just the right way.
As babies get stronger through tummy time and rolling over, they start tinkering a little here and there with their arms and legs. Watch as they start to combine all their new movements like lifting their head, pushing out their arms and legs then eventually scooting.
You can encourage strength building by continuing to work in tummy time – and make it fun! Peek-a-boo is a classic favorite baby game. They won’t even notice you’re sneaking in a mini workout.
Don’t stress if you don’t see your baby crawl first. As it turns out, crawling doesn’t always have to come before walking. Developmentally, some say it helps but your baby could also skip over this step₂.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re wondering how to help baby walk independently, all you have to do is channel your inner cheerleader. Just keep in mind you can’t speed up this process if your little one just isn’t there yet.
First, make sure to look out for signs baby will walk soon. You’ll already have a very active mover on your hands. At this point, they’ve mastered rolling over, scooting and pulling themselves up.
Maybe they’ve stomped their little foot, signaling “Come on, let’s go!”. You’re officially ready to start practicing.
When your baby starts taking steps but not walking, they’re almost there! This popular “pre walking” trait means they need your help to cross to the finish line.
The best practice comes with you holding their hands and guiding their steps out. This experience gives them a taste of that sweet freedom just around the corner.
Baby Walkers Beware
Be cautious of learning to walk toys, like baby walkers. Despite numerous recalls, they’re still being marketed as a baby must have.
With a walker, parents think their babies are walking with a safety barrier. The reality is, the hard to control mechanism can harm babies.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to stay away, studies show that baby walkers can actually delay independent walking₃. Those babies then also have a higher chance at toe walking later in life₄.
Protect Those Tiny Feet
The effort it takes to wrangle your toddler into a pair of shoes can be mind blowing. So while bare feet are totally ok for first steps, training your baby to walk with a good pair of shoes is key.
And realistically, when it’s chilly out and those little piggies need to be covered up, slippery socks are a hazard.
Baby feet are still really delicate so you can’t put on just any shoes for baby’s first steps. Afterall, they’re getting used to a whole new function now, which almost always comes with some hiccups.
A soft pair of baby moccasins work after your baby is a pro. Before then, we recommend a pair of soft sole baby shoes or baby booties with a grip like HARTS Bootees.
They’re perfect for pre walking babies and protect those tiny feet from burn marks caused by moving along the floor.
Be sure to pick up a pair at hartsbootees.com so your little one has the perfect baby shoes for learning to walk!