Training Your Child to Walk

Our oldest child was a bit developmentally delayed in learning to walk.  She could stand and cruise along furniture, but she wasn’t confident walking more than a few steps on her own.  We decided to hire a physical therapist to come to our home and help her out.

What we didn’t expect is the therapist would actually be teaching us how to help our daughter.  We did about 95% of the physical therapy ourselves with tips from the therapist, and the therapist did the other 5%, plus evaluations.

I wanted to share one huge tip from the therapist that worked great for our child:

  1. Find something your child really enjoys doing.  In our daughter’s case, it was being read to – she loves hearing a story, pointing out objects and characters, and especially – turning pages.
  2. Get your child to participate in her favorite thing standing up.  In this case, we read from a standing position, three feet away.
    1. Ensure she is standing with support behind her.  Support meaning a couch, or a wall.
  3. Gently encourage her to step forward or to the side, to challenge her balance.  Ask her step forward and turn the page.  After she accomplishes that, hold the book a little further away from her, and ask her to step forward a couple more steps to turn to the next page.

We did this every night before bed for a few nights and she was walking on her own almost immediately!  She was so very proud of herself, smiling and laughing.

The book we read was Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages, by Marla Frazee.  Our child loves this book, and shouts “BABY YOU’RE WALKING!  BEA-UTI-FULLLLL!” right from the story as she excitedly toddles around the house.  It also teaches how to fall and get back up again, no fuss, no muss.

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Bonus tip: If your child only wants to hold your hand while walking, and refuses to move without your hand: Progress to letting her hold only a finger.  Then progress from just a finger to holding a shared object, such as a stuffed animal, spatula, or umbrella.  She will be walking in no time.