How to Help Baby Walk Independently?

Featured image of parents teaching baby to walk on beach

Teaching a baby to walk is a wonderful experience. It begins from the moment they start showing interest to learn until they actually do it. There are several stages through which your little one will go through until they’re walking on their own. Your role as a parent is to support, help and praise them for every milestone and achievement. And it’s perfectly normal to question your methods to make sure that you’re doing everything right. 

But sometimes the question isn’t whether you’re doing it right, but can you do more to help them. Don’t you agree? Well, if this is the question that randomly pop’s up in your head as well, here’s a list of things you can do in each stage to help your little one learn how to walk faster and more efficiently.

Milestone Overview

As they grow they’ll become more confident at using the skills they’ve already acquired. Nevertheless, you should always praise them for every achievement and milestone that they reach and accomplish. Every word of praise you say to them matters and further encourages them to learn and improve. That’s why you should be there to support their development through each stage. Here’s a timeline of these 1-year-old stages and milestones through which they pass over the time of 

Sitting

Somewhere around 4-7 months, your child will learn how to sit and maintain this position. This will change their playtime and the way they interact with the surrounding. There are plenty of things to do and ways to interact with them in this stage to help them with their development. 

Crawling 

As your little one becomes more aware about the world around her, she’ll want to explore and interact with things around by crawling. Because each child is different, so are their developmental stages. This one usually occurs when the baby is 7-10 months old. 

Pulling Up

By the time your little one masters the sitting position and crawling, she’ll already have enough strength and confidence to try and pull herself up. This happens around the 8th month. 

Walking with Assistance

There are various opinions about helping your child walk by holding their hands or holding them in general. Some say that it hinders their natural ability to find balance and learn how to walk on their own, others that it can harm them in different ways. The important thing to understand about this stage is that you should only assist them so that they can get a taste of it. No one suggests that using a baby walker is how to teach baby to walk.

Cruising 

By the time the baby reaches 8-9 months, she’ll be confident enough to walk using everything and anything around her that she can use as support. Be sure to cover furniture and hard surfaces that she may use. She’ll cruise around making first steps on their own, with a little help of furniture. 

First Steps 

Somewhere around after the 9th month and before she has her first birthday, your little one will make their first steps. Seeing this is a wonderful and unforgettable experience. You will get tempted to pull a camera and record this moment to cherish the memory. A glorious moment indeed, worthy of praise. 

Walking on Their Own

After making their first steps, it becomes a matter of time when they’ll start to walk on their own. Usually happens just months before their birthday. As the most important thing here is balance, be sure to secure their surroundings and eliminate anything that might obstruct their path or harm them. 

Now that we’ve covered developmental stages of walking, we can proceed to learning how to guide them in each phase.

Interaction During Sitting Stage

There are many ways to be supportive during this stage as the baby should have your full attention in the sitting position. As each child starts building different character as they grow, not all will sit still. Which is a good thing. As they show their vast hunger for new information and experience the parent can imply more efficient methods and advanced techniques to help them grow. These will all help them progress faster, or in this case specifically, help them master balancing while sitting and improve their reach.

So how to make your interaction and playtime more helpful and beneficial for their growth? Well, before we go into that it’s important to mention one thing. That is their perception at the time. The baby is in a sitting position, and they can see you moving around as you bring more means of entertainment, that is toys. They assume that’s a natural ability so they try to recreate it. That’s the moment when your supporting role steps in. Bring lots of toys or only a couple of favorite ones. 

Place them in front of her so she can reach them but barely. Help her increase the reach and work on the balance while in this position. You can do this during playtime with toys or interacting with her. After a while, she’ll master this position and prepare for the next stage – crawling.

Image of little girl in white walking in field with parents behind

Encouragement While Crawling

Seeing your little one crawl for the first time is an amazing experience. Just as every future milestone they reach will be. But this one will be different because you’ll see them move on their own for the very first time. As her core strength increases and she starts to crawl, your baby will want to interact with the surrounding more so prepare the playground accordingly. There’s a variety of playmats and toys for this specific age, so be sure to check them all. 

The baby needs lots of encouragement in this period, as well as quality playtime. So play them tunes, baby videos, interact with them and try to call them to come to you. The progress will be slow at first but that’s only until she figures out how to use hands and legs to propel herself. If the surface is just right and there are lots of toys around, the baby will have no problems mastering crawling. 

Your job here is to keep the “training area” safe and engaging. So create a playground in a way that she can go from one place to another, interact with things that interest her and therefore move as much as possible.

Pulling Up With Assistance

Once the little one has mastered crawling she’ll want to increase her mobility. Just like with the sitting position and reaching forward to assume the position for crawling, the baby will need help with pulling up as well. You’ll notice that the youngling is quite proficient at moving from one spot to another, whether on the floor, bed or playground. 

The important thing here is to be around and act as support. Whether by interacting or playing with toys so that she’ll want to reach them and eventually pull herself up, or by snuggling in bed so she has something to climb on. In any case, she’ll be ready to pull herself up at some point and the only thing she needs is encouragement and playtime. The baby will figure out on her own how to pull up, so don’t try to help her with foot placement and by positioning the hands. 

Depending on the mood, your child might get annoyed or won’t show interest in doing this. So pick your moment, monitor her behavior throughout the day and try to notice when it the best time to step in. Once you see her reaching up and trying to pull up, encourage, interact and call her towards you so that she reaches with her hands up. You can also try with different toys for 1-year-old boys or girls, or by improvising and creating a climbing platform. Just make sure to secure everything by placing pillows around or anything soft.

Helping Hand

Helping her figure out how to start moving while she’s clinging to bed, furniture, or crib fence will be a fun experience. Both for you and the baby. At this stage, she already knows how to sit, crawl and pull up and has built enough core strength to move to the next step. But having enough balance and strength in limbs isn’t the only thing she needs to walk by holding onto stuff. She’ll need to work on her footwork and figure out the basic principle of walking. And walking as we know is a series of controlled falling. Which means that she will need to let go and shift weight from one foot to another. 

While holding onto the crib fence or anything else that can act as a support, she’ll start to jiggle, switch hands, and try to let go. Until she figures out that the legs are the only parts that should move at that point. And that takes a lot of courage so be sure to praise every more and create a fun and safe environment. Eventually, she’ll let go and make her first assisted step. 

So how to help baby walk on their own? As we mentioned the main thing here is shifting weight, so try to interact so she has to move sideways. You can also help her so that she has balance holding your hands and assisting her wherever she wants to go. Although it’s recommended that you avoid helping her this way, mainly because some parents will resort to this technique and this one only, you can use it from time to time.

Image of mother and little boy walking in park

Cruising Aid and Tips

Now that your child knows how to move around using everything and anything around her, as she holds onto it, she’ll have more ground to cover and things to explore. This also means that you’ll have more work, as you’ll need to secure the furniture, hard surfaces and sharp edges. So use blankets, pillows, and cushions to create a safe environment for her to explore in. 

Because she’ll be on her feet the whole time, sometimes she’ll want to rest. The problem is that she’s stuck holding onto furniture and can’t really let go. To help her improve her progress, and make things easy for your child, you can teach her how to let go and sit. 

As she tries to let go, whether from being tired or bored from standing up, show her how to land so she doesn’t harm herself. The child will instinctively try to find the safest solution because by now she knows that soft and hard surfaces aren’t the same. This will help her immensely, as your child will know she can rest at any moment. 

So how to help baby walk independently? Once your child is confident enough in cruising and walking by holding onto stuff, it’s time to prepare for the next step. Being that toddling is the next logical step, what you can do is to arrange the furniture, so that she has to let go for a brief moment to reach the next supporting surface. Cruising this way from one safe ground to another, helps her increase mobility, balance, and core strength even further. It might take some time for her to understand that she actually needs to let go and walk or stumble to another surface that acts as a support. Just like in any previous stage, use toys, lots of encouragement and praise.

First Steps and Toddling

Toddling is a period when your little one walks without holding onto anything. At first, she’ll stumble onto things, fall, trip, so be sure to secure everything just like in previous steps. You’ll enjoy watching their funny walks as they jiggle, toddler and stumble onto anything and everything in their path. So what do you do to help her master toddling and become proficient at walking? Encouragement, playtime, and interaction. These three things are crucial for their progress in any developmental stage, whether learning how to walk or anything else for that matter. 

The child needs support from you and is relying on it every time they have difficulties learning new skills.  What you can do with toddling, is dancing, playing around and trying to help her move and spend energy as much as possible. She still needs to perfect weight shifting from one foot to another, to achieve controlled falling. So introduce songs, dance, and playtime that involve a lot of movement.

FInishline - Walking on Their Own

Finally, your child has learned how to walk on their own. It took a lot of patience, discipline, and persistence to get there but you did it. There are few corrections that you might need to make when your little one starts to walk on their own. These include finding the right shoes, correcting their foot placement to avoid tripping, etc. But for the most part, you’ll just enjoy watching your child walk on their own. She’ll ask to hold your hand which you shouldn’t deny at any time. They’re still a baby and need your love and affection.

Seeing your child through each stage and guiding them through each developmental milestone is important for their progress. That’s why you’re there, to act as a support, to comfort them when they are moody, and to teach them to move forward and focus on things that are important. They’ll absorb everything like a sponge so pick your words of advice. The more you’re creative at preparing their playground or securing the area in which they spend their time, the more they get from it. They’ll progress faster and absorb that creativity which is quite important.

Author: Mary Lynn Holden
Author: Mary Lynn Holden

Proud mom and stepmom to an adorable bunch of kids aged 7 and up. Deeply appreciates three things in life: the help of older siblings in the house, texts on parenting, and strong coffee. Shares her stories and experiences in order to help others navigate the unpredictable waters of parenting.

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