Helping your Baby Learn to Stand and Walk
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Now that your babies have mastered the art of sitting and crawling, they understand the feeling of independence and now want to aim higher, figuratively and literally, by learning how to stand and walk! There are ways that you can help them gain this independence. Below are a few tips from BabyFirst’s Chief Educational Officer, Benjamin Todd Eller, PhD.
If your child is not yet standing or showing interest in attempting to stand, then it’s recommended to lay your children on their belly on a soft and safe surface. Beds are not recommended as they can begin to roll over and fall off. Once your children are on their belly, encourage them with verbal praise and faces to have them look up and crawl around. Be sure that their face is not flat on the ground as this interferes with breathing. Once your children begin to show interest in standing up and are crawling around, you can move to the next steps. (Read our tips on helping your babies learn to crawl here).
Learning how to stand is an important milestone and requires strong legs, a strong core, and good balance. Holding their hands or sides of their chest for support, let them stand on your lap and encourage them to bounce up and down. Aside from being a fun bonding time for you, this helps strengthen their legs and gets them ready to stand and balance! Encourage your little ones to pull themselves up by putting a soft and colorful toy on a low table. Make sure that any corners or edges of the table are childproof and always stay right nearby in case they lose their balance.
Once you feel they have enough balance to try and stand on their own without holding on to any surface, you can work on exercises with them to teach them how to stand on their own.
Sit or stand behind them (on a soft area such as a carpet or mat) while holding both their hands. You should feel that you are assisting them but not actually holding them up entirely. They should be balancing and supporting themselves somewhat. Once you feel they have control, remove one hand about an inch away so you can always return it if they teeter and totter. Then, slowly let go of their other hand, again, keeping it only an inch or so away. This way, if they fall, there’s no need to panic because you are right there to catch them! Keep doing this until, slowly but surely, your children learn to stand unsupported.
Always be sure to praise them and cheer them on. Make sure they are engaged and are not sleepy or whiney and hungry.
Once your babies can stand, they are going to want to start walking just like you! Natural movement is always preferred over using devices such as walkers. If you do happen to use a walker, always be sure to keep it away from stairs. While your little ones might not look like they have the strength in their legs yet and can’t get very far, they will surprise you! To help your children acquire the skill of walking using natural movement you can stand behind them holding their hands and walk along with them. Be sure you aren’t the one who takes the first step. Let them guide you and you can assist them. Letting them start at their own pace builds their confidence and gives them the courage to keep trying. Once you see that your children are walking along with you and it feels like they have their balance, try letting go of one hand (always keeping it close in case they fall) and walk along with them. If you feel like they can try on their own, let go of the other hand but always be right behind them so they can fall backwards into you. This will happen often until they catch the grasp of it so don’t worry! To encourage them to walk and keep them engaged, have a favorite toy or another adult standing in front of them so they can walk towards them.
Do these exercises daily and in time they will be walking and running around so naturally without any recollection of not being able to stand or walk!