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10 Ways to Encourage Your Baby to Walk

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Babies typically take their first steps around the time of their first birthday, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't help them out as much as you can. Encouraging a child to take their first steps is an exciting developmental milestone, and an emotional triumph. Set your camera to video mode and try out some of these tricks to help your little one get going.

1. Hold Her Hands

a mom helping her baby to walk

The most common trick to help your baby practice putting weight on her feet is to walk behind her while holding both of her hands. Give her enough support that she doesn't topple over, but not so much that you're straining her elbows or shoulders. Hold her arms high enough to make sure she doesn't have a big fall, but not so much that she can't make full contact with the soles of her feet.

2. Use Peer Models

a group of babies sitting in a park

Go somewhere you know toddlers close to your baby's age will be—the playground, the library, or the local mall play area are usually good options. Keep an eye out for the smallest mobile babies you can find. When you see a tiny walker, point them out, praise their skill, and be encouraging. A little friendly competition and an innate desire to do what everyone else is doing can be powerful motivation.

3. Take a Dance Class

a group of mom and babies at a dance class

Mommy and Me classes are a great way to get some exercise for yourself, with the added bonus of encouraging your baby to wiggle, shake, and groove. Being in an environment that is all about movement will help your baby to explore everything his body can do. It doesn't hurt that most classes will be held on soft gym mats, so any falls will be less traumatic, too.

4. Get Squeaky Shoes

a baby shoe

If you make walking really fun, your baby is going to want to do it as often as possible. Shoes with removable squeakers can be a great way to amp up the enjoyment your baby gets from walking. Babies are inquisitive scientists, so figuring out that each step causes a noise to come from her feet can be an amazing discovery. As stated, the squeakers are removable, so if the noise starts to drive you batty, pull the squeaker out for a bit.

5. Introduce a Push Toy

a baby using a push toy

There are many options to choose from--a toy shopping cart, a ride-on toy with a push handle, or an adjustable activity toy with a walker option can all make great walking aids. Having something fun for your child to play with that also assists them with cruising around is a win-win.

6. Spend Time in the Pool

a young boy with a dog in a park

Encouraging your little guy to use his legs in new ways will help to strengthen and condition his muscles. If you have access to a pool, it's time to get swimming. Teach him to kick his legs—the resistance from the water is good exercise that isn't too strenuous. If there is a section of the pool that is shallow enough for him to reach the bottom, help him to "walk" in the pool, too.

7. Have an Active Pet

a mom helping her baby to walk

Kids love animals. Having an active pet is a great way to inspire your little one to be on the move. If your dog's temperament is calm and he's good on a leash, let your child try walking the dog. Involve your child in feeding your pet—carrying a bowl takes two hands, so walking is a must for this job.

8. Put Her Down

a family playing tug-a-war in a park

You've gotten into the routine of carrying her from point A to point B. Stop. Leave for appointments and errands 10 minutes earlier than usual so that you can take your time getting there. Letting her be slightly more independent by getting places on her own two feet will help her become more confident and trusting of her abilities.

9. Play Tug-of-War

a mom with her baby in a park

You can't play this one to win, but leading your little guy around the house by holding onto a rope, or letting him tug while you sit in place, is a fun way to get him on his feet. You don't have to use a rope. A pool noodle, a stick, or a stuffed animal can work, too. boot.

10. Offer a Reward

Holding a preferred object or a treat for your child to come to is a fast way to get results. Of course babies love their parents and family so enthusiastically at this age that just offering a cheer and a hug can be enough to drive him to run into your arms. Enjoy this stage—it's cliché but true when we tell you it really does go by too fast.

 
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