It is something that mum and dad will never forget, and can be considered as one of your baby’s first milestones – and that is the journey of learning how to take his or her first few steps. Within a space of 15-odd months, your little one will go from lying flat on his or her back to sitting up, and will slowly get to the point where he or she begins to walk.
Overwhelming, exciting and emotional, it is a meaningful event that parents will always remember.
Crab walking, rolling and scooting are just a few of the tell-tale signs that your baby is ready to start walking. Many little ones begin to crawl quite quickly around the house – a good sign that their little arms and legs are strengthening. There are also times when little ones stand up on their own and manage to take one or two steps before stumbling and landing up on the floor.
It is during this time that your little one will become experimental with the way in which he or she gets from point A to point B. If you’ve noticed that your little one has started taking one or two steps around the house, here are a few ways in which to help them with their journey:
We doubt that we have to remind any parent about safety precautions when it comes to their little ones, but it is important to remember that once your toddler begins to cruise, you’ll find that what was once a safe height is no longer safe from your their reach. This includes any iPads, glass vases, ceramic ware or heavy books that can be easily toppled off of coffee or side tables.
Be sure to baby-proof any sharp corners of cabinets, consoles or tables – as they will probably start sitting at about head or eye-height to your now-walking toddler. It is also important to consider installing safety gates at the tops of stairs or doors that lead outdoors, and lock up all harmful household substances and cleaning detergents.
Barefoot is Best
Once your little one starts walking, you may be tempted to bulk up his or her shoe collection. However, when it comes to learning about balance and finding their feet (literally!), it is best to let toddlers stomp around barefoot. This is because our little ones have not yet had the opportunity to strengthen the bones and ligaments in their feet – they are padded with fat and need time to stretch out and grow properly.
Leaving your little one barefoot during their attempts at walking will ensure that they are able to find balance, that they learn to make use of the ball and heel of their feet, and that they learn to lift up their feet if there is an obstacle in the way. It is important to remember that during the developmental years, shoes are merely there to protect their little feet from the cold.
When your toddler begins to ‘toddle’ or cruise, it is best to help him or her with muscle strengthening exercises that will assist with balance and stability. Our little ones also need to strengthen the muscles that are required to keep them upright. If you have a long sofa, place a basket at one end and scatter a few toys or soft balls on the other, just out of your toddler’s reach.
Pop your little one at the far end of the couch and show him or her how to gather the items and use the couch as a crutch as he or she moves towards the basket. Make a fuss of your little one while they’re at it as this will encourage them to do it over and over again.
At the end of the day, be sure to wrap your little one in a soft blanket and a set of pyjamas that have been washed in a delicate fabric softener. Not only will the fabric conditioner relax and calm your little one after all of the excitement, it will also ensure a decent night’s rest in preparation for another exhausting day!