When my friend wanted to encourage her 13-month-old, who was cruising like a champ, to take his first wobbly steps, she put a Milk Arrowroot bikkie on a chair a little distance away and told him to try “walking to it”.
Little Oliver took one step, fell to the ground and then crawled to his prize.
Then she did it again (he is crazy about those biscuits!), and after about the fourth attempt HE DID IT!
Now, of course, this probably wasn’t the recommended way to encourage first steps, but it worked.
Here are some other things you could try that will build up his strength and motivation to get going on two legs when it’s time.
1. Build up his leg muscles
Before your bub can walk, he’ll need the strength to be able to hold his weight on those chubby little legs. This is why all that rolling, sitting and crawling is so important – it’s been preparing him for toddling!
You can get him used to standing (and seeing the world from a different perspective), by supporting him while he does it. Let him bounce or bend his knees, and over time, he will get straighter, as his legs get stronger.
2. Cruise away
Cruising (where bub holds onto the furniture to balance as he ‘walks’ around it) is a great way for him to practice taking steps while also feeling steady. You can strengthen his leg muscles even more by placing his toys out of reach on the coffee table. Cruising long distances will also boost his standing stamina.
Over time, he’ll become more skilled at shifting his weight from foot to foot, too.
3. Ditch the shoes
Although you may worry about your baby’s delicate skin on the pavement (and “oh my gosh, those mini Nikes are SO CUTE”), according to paediatricians, shoes are doing his walking a disservice.
This is because your baby is using feel to guide him. He is learning what posture and muscles to use for different surfaces. When he can’t feel through the soles on his shoes, it hinders this learning process.
4. Play squats
Squatting is fun for little ones, and this sort of exercise is also a work out for his legs, helping him to stand on his own.
Put toys on the floor near the couch (so he has something to hold on to), and he will squat to grab them, building up his thighs.
5. Dance with him
There’s something so lovely about putting on some tunes and bobbing away with your baby. It’s also another fun way to work out those legs.
6. Play pick up the toys
Thankfully tots still think cleaning up is fun, so get him picking up his toys, and all that bending and straightening will be setting him up for his first steps.
7. Have a play date
Babies love to mimic their peers, and if your little one sees his older cousin toddling around, chances are he will attempt to have a go, too, even if he falls to the ground because it’s still a bit early.
8. Be a cheer squad
Your enthusiasm will charge him, so lavish him with praise when he shows signs of wanting to get going, or when he bravely lets go of the furniture to stand and fall to the ground. Be his cheer squad!
But remember, the best time for your little one to take those first steps is when he’s ready. All children develop in their own sweet and good time.
Also, don’t forget the Milk Arrowroot trick if you think it could work. 😉