Learning to walk is what transforms your baby into a toddler, and it’s an incredibly exciting time when your little one is moving towards this wonderful milestone.
The moment your child takes their first few steps is one you’ll remember always and with a great sense of pride — after all, it's another big stride as they become an independent person! Before you know it, your little one will be up and about all the time as they start to explore the world.
Encourage them to take those first steps
While your little one is bound to start exploring on foot naturally, there are a few things you can do to encourage them.
Try placing one of their favourite toys on a chair to see if they pull themselves up to reach it, and, if they do, make sure you give them a lot of love and praise to positively reinforce the action. If they do stand up, be sure to help them back to the floor afterwards, as they won't have mastered the art of sitting down just yet!
Try to include toddling and exploration into your child's playtime to help them get into the routine of standing up and sitting down again.
Classes like our Social Tots sessions, which are especially for babies from the time they are actively crawling, up to the toddler stage, are designed around exploration and are intended to develop both their body and mind as they play. Classes include lots movement activities, strengthening the muscles they will need for standing, crawling and walking, but also encouraging them to engage with the world around them which supports their all round development.
The even better thing is that they don’t even realise all this learning and development is going on - they just think they’re having fun, and that’s the best way for a young child to learn anything, including how to walk.
Create a safe environment for exploration
As your little one gets on their feet more often, you'll need to take more precautions when creating a safe play and exploration environment at home. This is because your child will be much more mobile on two feet and able to reach things they couldn't previously.
With this in mind, take a moment to make sure that any potentially harmful objects are well out of reach and that they have plenty of room to toddle about in. You'll also want to keep the room clear of toys and clutter so that there are no tripping hazards around, as well as putting bumpers on any corners they might accidentally collide with. And, if they're learning to walk on a laminate floor, it's best to take their socks off so that they don’t slip over.
Looking after their feet
This stage in their childhood plays a crucial role in their foot development, so it's important that you ensure their tiny feet are well taken care of and supported properly.
To help with this, Rachel Clinkard, from kids' shoes specialist Charles Clinkard, shares some tips for taking care of your little one's feet as they learn to walk.
Choose the right type of shoes for their age
Before your child learns to walk, their feet are still developing, so you'll need to pick the right shoes to assist the soft cartilage and tendons as they grow. This means that they will need the likes of socks, booties, slippers, and soft-soled baby shoes rather than rigid footwear.
But, as they begin to show signs of taking those first steps, you'll need to go and get their first real shoes fitted. I'd always recommend visiting a specialist shoe shop where you can get an accurate fitting and advice on what footwear is suitable, if possible. Ideally, you should be able to get a pair of kids' shoes that are supportive but still allow enough flexibility for those developing feet.
Be prepared for those growing feet
Another key thing to remember is that, at the walking stage of a child's development, their feet tend to grow at a very fast rate — up to three whole shoe sizes a year!
This means that you need to find footwear that has room for growth without being too big, which is something else a kids' shoe specialist can help you with. You should also pick pairs that are adjustable so they can always provide a good fit —Rip-tape and buckles are a good choice. I'd then recommend visiting your shoe shop every couple of months to get their feet measured and, if necessary, to pick up a pair of properly fitting shoes.
Keep it Playful
Walking is a big new skill for your little one, and while children are wired to want to learn and develop make sure to always take everything at your new toddler’s pace, letting them practice when they want to but only for as long as they want to.
If they are showing signs they have had enough of trying out their walking for the moment and want to move on to doing something else then follow their lead. They will soon want to try again if walking simply feels like play time, and before you know it you will be running to catch up with your growing toddler, and fondly remembering the time when you didn’t need eyes in the back of your head!
Hopefully, these simple tips for little walkers will help you to get your child easily and safely taking their first steps with the knowledge that you’re also caring for their feet as well as their overall development.
Happy Walking and Happy Playing!
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