By Gina Ducasse
Walking is such an exciting milestone, for both you and your baby! Babies typically take their first steps sometime around their first birthday, but it might happen a few months before that, or a few months after! However, what happens after baby takes their first steps? It often takes some time for children to choose walking over crawling, and even before that, it takes time for them to be confident in their walking skills! You might wonder, “How can I encourage them?” Here are a few tips!
1. Let baby cruise!
Arrange pieces of furniture in your home in a way that baby can practice “cruising” back and forth between them. As they become more comfortable taking steps, maybe push a piece of furniture slightly further away from another to give just enough space for your baby to take a step or two in between!
2. Let your child be barefoot.
Having your baby practice walking barefoot on the floor at home is incredibly beneficial. It allows them to feel different surfaces and textures, and it gives them sensory feedback from all of the nerve endings in their little feet. Sensory signals from these nerve endings are sent directly to the brain, and it helps provide even more awareness to how they’re moving!
3. Give baby something to hold on to.
Give your child a light toy (or two) to keep their hands busy as they practice taking steps! Try a ball or two small stuffies. If their hands are occupied, your babe is likely less focused on cruising and more focused on balancing!
4. Practice reaching high and reaching low.
Reaching up and down helps your baby strengthen their core and practice balancing, two skills needed for both walking and transitioning from sitting to standing. Hold a ball or a colorful scarf above your child’s head for them to reach for it, or place them on the floor for your child to practice picking them up. Bubbles are also great motivation to get babies both reaching and moving!
5. Use flexible, lightweight shoes.
When you go outside, slip on shoes that are flexible, yet still durable and protective! OT’s often recommend that first walkers should have bendable soles, they should be lightweight, and they should have a wide toe box. HARTS shoes tick every one of these boxes, and not only are they a perfect first shoe for babies, they’re also a great option through toddlerhood!