Your child is ready for this once he or she has good head control in sitting and is confident in pulling up to stand. If your child is not quite there yet, then click here for ideas on balance, and here for tips for standing.
Once your child is secure in standing using furniture, or similar, then you can gently try to:
- encourage your child to walk sideways along the couch using their hands for support – make sure you practice both directions! You can use toys, etc, to encourage this
- see if your child will take a few steps from the couch to you, or from you to the couch. Don’t be too enthusiastic about this – you want your child to try to step rather than rush and launch …
Meanwhile, you can practise walking:
- practise walking in a variety of different ways – with both hands held, with a push along toy (making sure it does not run away with your child!)
- as confidence and balance improves, try with just one hand held
- encourage independent steps between two adults your child has confidence in – lots of encouragement needed here
- as soon as he or she is able, encourage your child to walk with you (using reins for safety) – it might slow you down but it is a great way for you both to get exercise.
Some important precautions
- When children start to walk, they are often very quick but very unsteady, and trip and fall often. Make sure you are on hand to supervise and prevent falling if possible. If your child falls, this may dent confidence and reduce willingness to try again.
- Make sure you don’t hurt your back with lots of leaning over – come down onto your knees
- Walk slowly with your child – he or she needs to concentrate on balance rather than speed
- Don’t get disheartened if this stage takes a long time. Your child needs to be ready and to build confidence and you can’t rush this.
When should I worry, then?
If your child is not walking by 18 months, then please do talk to your health visitor or GP.