For the last few months I have been practicing my walking skills. It has been a difficult journey but an exciting one. There have been many ups and downs both figuratively and in the literal sense. I’m finally mastering this ability and using my feet to my advantage.
Now that I’m an expert in the field of walking, I feel it is my duty to help my fellow babies. For those of you who are ready to expand your world and explore, this guide is for you. Here are my 8 steps to take you from unassisted sitting to unassisted walking. Go forth my fellow babies and explore your world.
1. Discovering Mobility
Before a baby can walk, a baby needs to know that it is possible to get around on one’s own steam. From the time we are born, babies get carried around to wherever they need to be. Mobility is a new concept that needs to be discovered.
Most babies will crawl before they walk. Luckily I have already covered this topic, so if you have been following along, you already know what to do. If crawling isn’t working for you, don’t worry. Some babies never crawl. We are individuals and it’s the discovery of mobility that is important, not the means of propulsion.
2. Working Those Legs
Unsurprisingly, walking takes a bit of leg strength. Crawling should help with that, but if you’re not into that, standing with a bit of help can get the job done just as well. All you need is someone to help keep you upright while you practice standing on your feet.
Once you’re comfortable with that, invest in a jumper or exerciser. These contraptions will hold you upright while you play so that you can stand up whenever you feel like it. This way you won’t have to rely on the fickle attention of adults.
3. Standing 2.0
Once you have those legs in shape, it’s time to try standing on your own. At first, get an adult to help you by holding their hands. Don’t let them lift you to your feet. Instead, use their hands to pull yourself up. Before you know it, you’ll find that you are standing on your own and only using your hands for support.
Now that you can stand all by yourself, it’s time to practice. Make sure you are surrounded with lots of sturdy objects that you can use to pull yourself to your feet. It’s going to be tricky at first, but soon your technique will improve and it will get easier. Good flooring that is non-skid and preferably cushioned is a must at this stage. A good place to start your journey to walking is in your own baby zone.
The next step is to combine your new-found ability to stand with the concept of mobility. What you need at this stage are lots of baby height objects such as the coffee table or couch. These pieces need to be sturdy and arranged in such a way that you can move around the space without having to let go. Place lots of small toys on all these surfaces to keep yourself entertained and to encourage yourself to move. Once you have the space set up, cruising will come naturally.
Don’t be discouraged if at first you can only manage to sway from side to side. You might also find it harder to go in one direction over the other. No need to worry. These issues will resolve themselves with time.
By now you will probably have realized that gravity is a bit of a jerk that’s always trying to keep a good baby down. Don’t let gravity push you around. Keep at it within the safety of your baby zone where the floor is cushioned and there are no sharp corners. You’ll overcome whatever challenges gravity sets out in due time. All you need is a safe place to practice and you’ll be cruising like a pro in no time.
When you’re comfortable cruising about the room while holding onto the furniture, you’re ready to tackle the issue of balance. Standing up with your hands grasping the coffee table is one thing. Standing up all by yourself is a different beast. You will need to work on your sense of balance.
The best way to start is with the help of an adult who can hold your hands up over your head while you stand and walk. If you’re anything like me you will find this strange at first, but give it a fair chance. Have your adult hold you under your arms in the beginning if that’s what you need to feel comfortable about it. Trust me, you will not regret it. Once you discover the freedom of moving about the room without having to look for a handhold, you will be dragging that adult about the place all day.
Once you’re comfortable walking about holding both of your adult’s hands, it’s time to move on to just one hand. This is much harder and you might find that you wobble a lot at first. After a brief period of adjustment, you will be just as confident with the one hand approach as you were with two.
6. The First Steps
Now you’re ready to take your first steps all by yourself. It might feel scary at first to go completely solo but don’t worry, you’ll get there. The best way to start is with two adults sitting on the ground facing each other just a couple of feet apart. Stand in front of one adult with your back to them and their hands holding you about the waist. Take a step towards the other adult and as the first adult let’s go, throw yourself into the arms of the other. Then turn around and repeat.
The distance between the two adults can be gradually increased so that you take two steps before you catapult yourself into those outstretched arms. Make certain your adults are the encouraging kind that will make you want to come to them and that you get lots of praise when you get there. You’re working hard and you deserve to be told what a great job you’re doing.
If you only have one adult around, you can improvise. Find a piece of furniture that you find comfortable using to hold yourself up on and place your adult a couple of feet away. When your adult begins to encourage you to come to them, take a step and lunge into their arms. Then turn around and throw yourself back to the furniture. I preferred to use the couch for this because it’s squishy and very good at catching me.
7. Taking Off
As the distance you walk before flinging yourself towards your safe haven increases, you will build up your confidence. At one point you will find that you no longer need to throw yourself to safety. Instead you will simply walk into outstretched arms. The next stage is to venture off on your own and join the world of the walkers.
Nobody can tell you when you’re ready to make that transition or how to take your first independent steps. I can tell you how it happened for me. One day I was practicing my walking between mommy and the couch. I was having a great time of it and the distance between mommy and the couch was a good six feet. We had been at it for a while and then on my journey back to mommy I veered right and went around mommy into the empty space of the room. There I was, standing in the middle of the room and I knew that I walked there all by myself. I decided to walk around some more and so my journey began.
Even if you do head off on your own, it doesn’t mean you can’t run back to the safety of arms or sit down and crawl for a while longer. I went back to mommy’s arms several times that first day, I occasionally insisted on holding a hand for several weeks after I knew I could walk on my own, and I still occasionally choose crawling over walking. Just because you learn something new doesn’t mean you have to abandon the things that have been working all along.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
No matter how long it takes for you to give it a try, sooner or later you will walk and you will fall. Falling down hurts and I recommend that you do all of these steps within the safety of your baby zone. Make sure your adult inspects your baby zone constantly to make sure it is always safe for your changing needs. Falling down hurts and it can be discouraging. You need a safe place to practice where the hurts of those falls will be kept to a minimum.
One day you will find that you have become quite stable on your feet and that you rarely fall anymore. When that day comes, you are ready to be released into the rest of the house and perhaps even beyond. These days I have free roam of the downstairs floor of our house for most of the day. When we go out I get to explore places such as the park and playground. Sometimes mommy insists on holding my hand, but other times I get to go off on my own.
Learning to walk is hard, scary, and sometimes a bit painful, but I promise that it’s worth your effort. Don’t give up my fellow babies. Throw caution to the wind and catapult yourselves into toddlerhood with reckless abandon. You won’t regret it.