While babies begin to walk at all different ages, ranging from 9 to 18 months, there are some fun ways to help your baby develop movement skills, strength, and an interest in walking. Even if your baby doesn’t want to play with a push toy, there are other ways to encourage the beginning stages of learning to walk.
Coordination, strength and balance are all important components of being ready to walk. If your baby is very comfortable with crawling, ask them to “follow” you around the kitchen and living room instead of carrying them. You can also try asking them to go get an object. These challenges will foster independent movement. Placing an object that they want on a low piece of furniture is a simple way to help them develop the ability to go from crawling to standing, and to practice their balance. Another activity that helps with building confident balance is sitting on the floor and rolling a soft ball back and forth. Try to roll the ball a little bit to the side of your baby, so that they reach side to side and develop more complex movement.
If these activities seem too simple for your baby, try these fun ways to get your baby to develop strength not just in their legs, but also in their core and upper body. Sit on a mat or carpet, and see if you can get your baby to begin to imitate you as you show them how to push up from their tummy on to their arms into a plank or “down dog” position. Show them how to touch their toes or pat their tummy to help build core strength. If your baby is close to standing on their own, try holding hands and practicing squatting down and then straightening legs. To encourage both strength and coordination, try scattering balls or toys close to a low piece of furniture. Get your baby to stand on the furniture, and then ask them to help you “clean up” the balls by putting them in the basket. This is another great way to practice the “up and down” transitions, squatting and purposeful movement.
Above all, keep it fun. Remember that babies tend to teach themselves when they are ready, but there is nothing wrong with encouraging them along the way.