One of the major milestones in a child’s life is the day they take those first steps. Every child is different and though most children take their first steps around the time of their first birthday, it can occur as early as nine months or as late as 18 months. Babies are so busy learning all kinds of skills, and they develop at different times, but usually before their 18th month they show signs of being able to walk.
Some early signs of getting ready to walk are:
• Rolling around
• Using arms and legs to move around
By placing a baby on their tummy regularly, they should begin to lift their heads and begin to strengthen their back muscles. This is also important for preparing the body to stand upright and to begin walking.
Teaching a baby to walk requires a lot of patience, and every child will learn at their own pace. Walking requires learning to balance, becoming coordinated, building confidence, and strengthening the muscles in the arms and legs. Every baby learns differently. One way to start is by holding the baby under their arms and allowing them to bounce either on your lap or against a hard surface. This will help to strengthen their leg muscles and also teach them how to bend their knees. You can arrange furniture in a way that they can hold on to something as they go across a room.
Once a baby is able to stand upright, let them hold on to a low table and move around on their own slowly. You can hold both of their hands and let them take steps, and after some practice, you can let go of one hand so they feel a little independence.
It is recommended that you not put the baby in a walker. Many people over the years have used them because they are relatively easy and their children turned out just fine but child development experts don’t recommend them. They have been banned in Canada and the American Academy of Pediatrics in the United States is trying to have them banned as well because of the high incidence of injuries that they are responsible for.
It is important to take safety precautions when there is a baby learning to walk in the house. These include:
• Remove tables and objects with sharp edges
• Cover electric outlets
• Remove objects from table tops that can be grabbed
• Child proof cabinets and doors
• Be careful of electric cords
• Remove rugs that they can slip on
Get a toddler toy that the child can push or pull that will make walking something fun to do. As they gain confidence, they will want to walk at every opportunity they can get.
Word to the wise, once a baby learns to walk, you will need to keep a close eye on their every movement because they tend to look at this new freedom as a game to keep you on your toes.
If your child doesn’t show any signs of trying to move themselves around by the first birthday, speak to your pediatrician about these important milestones. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Jamaica Hospital please call 718-206-7001.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.