Most babies start to walk between 9 and 18 months. Around this age, it is our responsibility to provide them with ample opportunities to practice standing, so that they can strengthen their legs and learn to walk. Stay clear of containers like the walkers that require the baby to sit in as they are not recommended.
13 activities that encourage your baby to walk and strengthens their muscles
This is the step that precedes walking. It is simply walking sideways with the support of furniture like a couch or table. Encourage scooting by sitting at the other end of the couch or by placing their favorite toy there. Be sure to remove any obstacles in their path.
2. Pushing low stable objects
A stool or a chair, that is light in weight but stable, works as a great support to encourage your baby to walk. These items are available around the house and easily accessible for the baby to use.
3. Scarf Pull
Tape some empty toilet paper rolls on the wall. And put playscarfs inside. Your baby will be encouraged to cruise along the wall to pull the scarfs. Adjust the gap between the scarfs to alter difficulty level.
4. Treasure hunt
Fill balloons with different items like grains, pulses, water beads, pebbles, cotton, tin foil. Tape the balloons to the wall, where your child can access them when standing. They will be encouraged to cruise along the wall to feel the balloons for different textures. Be sure the balloons are tightly tied so that your child cannot mouth the small items hidden inside.
5. Sticky notes on a wall
Use colored sticky notes and stick them on an empty wall. Ensure you stick them at varying heights - some of them where your baby can reach easily and some where they might have to stretch a little. Using sticky notes that are different colors and shapes will make it more exciting for your baby.Your baby will cruise as they try to get the treasures.
6. Holding two objects
Give your child two things to hold, one in each hand or one toy that needs to be manipulated with both hands. This discourages the use of external support - your child is using both hands to hold the toys and can’t hold anything else to support themselves. This strengthens their leg muscles and gets them ready to walk.
7. Sensory walk
A baby learning to walk must spend ample time without shoes - for them to feel a different texture. Providing a sensory path with varying materials stimulates their senses. Sensory mat from level 4 Montessori Box works great for this
8. Push wagon
A push wagon is a great tool for your baby to support themselves while standing and eventually walking. Fill the wagon with books so that it doesn’t tip over with your baby’s weight. Your baby will soon learn to balance their body while using a moving object as support versus a predictable stationary object like a couch.
9. Musical walk
Hang musical instruments using ribbons or scarves along a path for your baby to explore as they walk past each one.
Who doesn’t love bubbles? Bubbles teach babies to track as they watch them move with the wind. They also learn cause and effect as they pop the bubbles. Bubbles are also a great way to encourage your baby to walk, as they follow them and try to catch each one!
11. Family photos
Stick photos of family members across a wall, slightly above their eye level when seated. This will encourage them to stand up to get a better view. They will use the support of the wall to cruise along and see the other photos as well.
12. Hold their hands
Better than any walkers available in the market, your hands are the safest and best way to support your baby during their initial walking days. Stand behind them and gently hold their hands. Slowly, give them just one finger and they will hold onto you, instead of you holding them. Walk slowly behind your baby. This gives them the confidence to walk, knowing that you are there to keep them safe and catch them if they fall.
13. Open arms
Stand a few feet away from your baby with open arms. Cheer your baby and encourage them to walk towards you. As they take a few steps, you can either move closer or further away depending in their success. As they reach you, wrap your arms around them, give them a warm hug and celebrate them. Remember, sometimes all your child needs, is YOU!
A prepared environment to support your standing baby: While this may seem obvious, it is essential for us to provide our children with a safe space for them to practice this new skill
When you notice your child showing interest and effort in trying to stand and walk
1. Ensure the floor is clear of toys that can hurt them.
2. If your floor is not carpeted, invest in some foam mats to provide a soft padding
3. Add some low tables and chairs that are child sized
4. Set up a space where your baby feels independent