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Friday, April 29, 2016

How Can I Get My Baby to Stand and Walk? by Trisha Roberts

Getting to  Standing

There are few things more exciting for a parent than seeing their baby take their first steps! (Well, maybe sleeping through the night......!)  When should a child start walking?  Most babies start pulling to standing between 10 and 12 months and most children take their first steps before 14 months.  If your child is over 15 months and shows NO interest in standing, you may want to talk to your Pediatrician and possibly ask for a referral to your state’s Early Intervention Program for further evaluation.

Progression to Walking:

  • Standing with support (parents holding both hands) or standing holding onto furniture
  • Cruising sideways along furniture
  • Cruising forward facing with one hand on furniture
  • Cruising between stable objects or furniture
  • Walking with 2 hands held
  • Walking with 1 hand held
  • Standing alone
  • Independent Steps

When babies start crawling they begin exploring and looking up to see what is within reach. If something tempting is above their eye level, they will try to reach the "treasure" by pulling up to standing.
Holding Onto Baby Gate
Secure all Stairways 
Dangers for Baby
Dangling Cords and Unstable Furniture
This is why it is crucial to baby proof your home before your baby starts crawling and walking!  Any dangling cords should be tucked out of reach or bundled.  Any shelf or piece of furniture that is not stable should be secured to the wall, as a new crawler will try to pull themselves to standing and the unstable furniture could topple on their head. All stairs should be gated securely and checked frequently to insure that the gate can’t be easily shifted.  

Baby in Half Kneel Position
Getting to Standing at the Couch
Getting to standing through half kneel
Half Kneel to Standing
A great place to learn to pull to standing and begin cruising (walking along furniture) is at the sofa or couch.  Get down on the floor near your baby and the couch, and get their attention with a toy.  Place the toy a few feet away and have them start crawling toward the toy. (Some Motivating Toys can be found on our Website--Click Here.)  When they reach the toy, give them a minute to play and then gentle remove the toy and place it on the couch.  Encourage your baby to crawl near the couch; if they do not reach up or get themselves into ½ kneel position (one foot on the floor with knee bent, other knee on the floor), them help them to get to this position.

Baby getting to standing at furniture
From Floor to Furniture

 If they do not pull themselves up to standing, give a little lift under their bottoms to assist.  Let them play in standing at the couch with the toy.  Show them how they can get down from standing “bottom first” by bending at the waist

Sitting Down from Standing

 and bringing their head forward and doing a controlled landing on their plump, diapered behind. Repeat the process of getting to standing through ½ kneeling and sitting down again until they are able to do it smoothly on their own.

Once your child is able to pull to standing and sit down, they are ready for cruising. Encourage them to get to standing with their favorite toy on the couch, then start to shift to toy to the right or left; if they do not make a sideways step to get to the toy, assist them to do so by sliding their foot.

Let them bring the second foot over to meet the first.  Let them play with the toy and then move the toy slightly to the side again, encouraging the sideways stepping or cruising.  Once they reach the end of the couch, start moving the toy to the opposite side to cruise to the other end of the couch.

 Babies usually cruise sideways with both hands on the couch. 

Cruising Sideways on the Couch
Cruising Sideways on the Couch
Cruising Forward Facing with 1 Hand on Furniture

When they are almost ready to walk, they will frequently drop one hand and start to walk with their body pointed in the direction they are walking, taking forward steps rather than sideways steps, holding onto the couch or other furniture with just one hand.

At this stage you might place a stable chair or coffee table 10 inches from the couch and put their favorite toy on that new piece of furniture.  Encourage the baby to reach toward the toy, grasping onto the new chair.

Stepping between stable objects
Cruising Between Stable Objects

Soon the child will be moving confidently between both pieces of furniture and you can slowly inch the furniture further away to increase the distance they need to walk. This is called cruising between stable objects.

Most babies are able to walk behind a Baby Push Walker at this stage.  Make sure the Push Toy is stable with a wide base. (Check out our Baby Push Walker--Click Here!)

Baby Push Walker
Baby Walking Behind a Stable Push Toy

Walk next to your baby with your hand guiding and controlling the Walk Behind Toy until your baby demonstrates that they are able to control the toy.

When the baby is moving well between stable furniture, they are ready to walk with 1 or 2 hands held.
Baby Walking with Hands Held
Walking with 2 Hands Held

Parents walking baby with hands held
Baby Walking with Parents, 2 Hands Held

Learning to walk with 1 hand held
Baby Walking with 1 Hand Held

If you can get them to grasp just your finger instead of your whole hand, it makes releasing them a bit easier.  As a therapist, I prefer to aid walking by controlling a child at their shoulders.  I stand behind the child and have a parent call to them from several feet away.

Shoulder Control to aid Baby Walking
Using Shoulder Control to Assist 

Helping Baby learn to walk using Shoulder Control
Walking with Shoulder Control
I give the minimal amount of assistance necessary for the child to walk toward dad or mom by holding the top of the child’s shoulders. I can give more or less assistance as needed until the child is able to take those first steps alone. By holding the baby's shoulders or tops of their sleeves, I am in control and can release the child when they demonstrate that they are stable and moving on their own.

How to encourage those first independent Steps
Walking from Dad to Mom
There is rarely anything more motivating than Mom and Dad.  When your baby is showing all the abilities above, they are ready to take those first steps.  Have baby stand with their back against Daddy.  Position Mommy 3-4 feet away and call to baby.

Walking between Mom and Dad
Walking Between Parents
Baby Taking her First Steps to Mom
First Steps to Mom
She should take those first wobbly steps toward Mom.  Praise her and don't make a big deal when she falls--it's all part of the learning process!  

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Watch for our next blog, 

CommonQuestions Regarding Walking

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  1. I like your idea of walking between furniture. My son had a really hard time letting go of the couch or our hands to take those first steps. If I see another family with an almost walker, I will definitely tell them to try this!

  2. What a cute baby, this post so helpful because walker are actually not recommended.

  3. you may want to talk to your Pediatrician and possibly ask for a referral to your state’s Early Intervention Program for further evaluation.

  4. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. βρεφικα επιπλα

  5. Excellent website you have here, so much cool information!..
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  6. Wonderful blog, learning to walk is a key step in baby growth, they are so cute