The Brink Of Walking
Photo credit: Rosemarie Gearhart/Getty Images
Give him an outlet
When you notice Baby is taking in interest in pulling himself up, show him how to use his hands to cruise around coffee tables, window seats or outside benches — any steady and low surface that he can grasp onto while his feet get a feel for walking. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages toy "walkers" for babies and toddlers, due to the dangers that babies can put themselves in by traveling in them, down a flight of stairs for example. However, Consumer Reports suggests safer options for babies who are ready to be upright and somewhat mobile, such as a stationary activity center, some of which have a seat that allows Baby to rotate himself around to the various activities in the center. Being upright, even while assisted with the built-in seat, can help Baby strengthen his leg muscles as he plays.
Pump up the volume
If Baby likes to boogie, turn on some fun baby-appropriate tunes and "dance" with him while he stands or cruises around a table with a bumper. If you lift up your arms as you groove, he may follow suit, allowing him short opportunities to stand unassisted and gain walking confidence while having fun.
Don't discourage him
While you may be tempted to hover over Baby as he attempts to pull himself up and toddle around, do your best to step back and act relaxed. We know your internal fear is that Baby might fall and hurt himself. But if you've taken the proper steps to baby proof your home, including bumpers on sharp corners of furniture like coffee tables, then a little bump isn't going to kill him. But if he senses your fear, he may be less brave when it comes to experimenting with walking. Of course, you should be near enough that if you sense Baby is going to topple into something that could potentially hurt him, you can swoop in and grab him before he gets seriously injured.
Practice short stints
By no means do we feel you should pressure your baby into walking by scheduling practice sessions. But when you're baby is ready to start stepping, take him to a park with soft grass and let him walk back and forth between you and your partner, starting out very close together and then inching back little by little as he gets more steady and confident in his strides. This is an especially good exercise for timid babies who don't quite trust their own legs yet and need Mom and Dad's arms there to reach out to for support. There is no need to rush Baby into walking by a certain time, but if you notice him starting to venture on his own, have fun with it. Don't forget to grab the camera.