How to effectively support learning to walk?
Toddler
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How to effectively support learning to walk?

A baby’s first step is always highly anticipated by parents. Independent walking marks the beginning of a new stage in life. How can I support my child’s learning to walk?

Does the timing of the first steps make a difference?

Many parents are convinced that the sooner the child starts walking, the better. The research carried out by Swiss scientists has unequivocally shown that the speed at which a baby starts to walk on his own is of no importance for the further development of the child. Thus, the common opinion that faster learning to walk positively affects the intelligence of the child is wrong.

Don’t verticalize by force

Every child develops at his or her own pace, which is why you shouldn’t put your baby down by force. Forcing the child may have a negative impact on its development by, among others, slowing down the process of walking and twisting the spine

Placing a baby on the stomach

Not many parents know that the support of learning to walk starts already at the neonatal age with placing the child on its belly – in a frog position (legs wide apart). This position stimulates the muscles of the trunk, back and neck. As a result, the infant lifts its head up. Then he starts to support himself on his elbows and then on his whole arms – this is the sitting position. After the child masters the sitting position, the stage of rocking on knees, crawling and walking follows.

Unfortunately not all infants like to lie on their stomachs, therefore it is worth convincing them to this position e.g. with the use of an educational mat and interactive toys adjusted to the toddler’s age.

Crawling is an important introduction to learning to walk.

The child learns to estimate the distance and choose the direction of movement. Alternating arm and leg movements engage both cerebral hemispheres, which has a very positive effect on further development. Alternate crawling is a very important introduction to learning to walk.

Some children do not want to move in this way. Therefore, it is important to encourage the child to crawl e.g. with special toys that move and the child “chases” them.

Pushchair – a helper in learning to walk

Many physiotherapists recommend pushers for learning to walk, i.e. mobile toys that help the child to move. Doctors recommend them only when the toddler can keep his balance on his own. Otherwise, the child will load the spine incorrectly, which can lead to large postural defects.

Advantages of a pushchair

  • helps in confident movement of the child,
  • allows to cover greater distances,
  • toys attached to the pushchair develop small motor skills,
  • helps develop postural muscles.

Do not use a baby walker

Baby walkers are very popular, but they adversely affect the development of the child. Specialists warn that these toys are not suitable for learning to walk and have a negative impact on the development of the toddler, because:

  • they cause misalignment of the pelvis and spine,
  • they put a strain on the feet and muscles, which delays the learning to walk,
  • distance assessment is disturbed,
  • the child is not able to keep its balance.

The first step is important

Parents should make sure that the crawling stage lasts as long as possible. Most often, between 12 and 14 months of age, the toddler starts to take his first steps on his own. The first attempts at independent walking involve moving by the furniture. With time, the child begins to be more and more courageous and decides to take the first independent steps.

What should worry you?

Every child develops at his or her own pace, but parents should be concerned if their child

  • doesn’t want to stand on his or her own;
  • does not begin to walk until 18 months of age;
  • when walking, he or she positions the feet inward.

In this case, it is worth going with the child to the primary care doctor or for a consultation with a neurologist and physiotherapist.

Main photo: Jakob Owens, source: unsplash.com

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