Using a push toy is one way that little ones begin to practice walking. It gives them the support needed while they begin to figure out how to pick up their legs and take steps. As they are using a push toy, here are some things for you to think about:
- When they are first starting you might want to use one that you can put a little bit of weight in because they will be leaning on it a lot and you don’t want it to get away from them. Another solution is you can hold it for them so it is stable and slowly help them advance it.
- When they first start, their feet will be wide apart because this is more stable for them. They will also tend to keep their knees straight for the same reason. As they get more confident with their balance and ability to move multiple parts of their body they will begin to bring their legs closer together and bend their knees when they step.
- In the beginning walking will be straight ahead and then they will run into an obstacle and will need help to turn. Instead of just doing it for them, start to help them turn. Initially it will be you doing most of the work but as they get better with balance and control, you should be able to start unweighting the push toy a little and let them guide the direction of the turn. This will also give them time to work on their motor planning with their feet and knowing how to move their feet so they are now pointing in the right direction for the turn. (Different push toys are easier to turn than others, and it also depends on the type of floor you have, how easy it is to make turns)
- As they start to master turns, you can get in front of them and have them follow you. This works on their visual skills as well as their motor planning. You could also use objects like balloons and balls and have them walk towards them and ‘hit’ them with the push toy, almost like push toy soccer!
- If you have more than one push toy at home, you can set them up around the house so that they can start transitioning from one toy to the other as they are walking around. Ideally they will start to let go of one toy and take a few steps towards the other toy, but even if they aren’t to that point yet having them transition between the two supports is great practice for balance and early walking.
- Along the lines of following someone, you could also make tape lines along your floor like a road and have them follow the line. You could make destinations of different play stations or objects they want!
- If you have something like a shopping cart or one that you can put items in, you can distribute ‘groceries’ or blocks or other toys around and have them go collect them so they are working on squatting also. This will eventually carry over to help with becoming more independent with floor to stand.
What are some of the ways you have progressed walking with a push toy? Or what are other games you have played?
Here are a few push toy options that we have used:
There are so many though, these are just a few.