We seem to have a bunch of little ones right now that are working on taking independent steps. They have cruising down and are walking with a push toy. They just don’t like to let go of the support surface, or sometimes, even shift their weight forward. We have a few techniques we have been using. Some techniques work better for some kids while others work better for others. It varies child to child but it doesn’t hurt to try them out and see what works, or use a combination of them all!
- Sit to Stand – We will often use a little bench in front of a support surface and have them stand up to the support surface. This is great because they can start to find their static standing balance when they achieve standing. Keep the stool close to begin with so they know they can get to the support. Then slowly move it back away from the support surface. I do maybe a quarter of an inch at a time. I’m almost trying to trick them into it. Initially it looks like lunging for the support surface but it gets more refined as they go. Just be aware that they may lunge so that you are aware to catch them if you need to! As you get further away they will take more and more steps. You may need to stay at one distance for a while, and you may need to switch out the motivating toys to keep them going. If they start to go down to the ground then you might need to move the stool back closer to the support. It’s finding that fine line of challenging but not too challenging.
- Cruising between Parallel Surfaces – We use Kaye benches but you can also use a coffee table and a couch or two chairs. Start with them close together so that they think they can be successful. You can have them holding onto the support surface and reaching for the new one but I find that if you can get them to stand with their back to a support surface and facing the new one, it is a little easier. They will then shift their weight forward towards the new support surface. Always be prepared in case they lunge or don’t catch their balance. Same as with the stool above, slowly move the benches apart. Seriously, go small. We did such small increments recently that the dad didn’t even realize it until he looked and saw how far apart the benches were!
- Using a Wedge – Similar to above but using a wedge so that they are starting with their weight shifted even further back so that they realize they need to shift forward. This can also help with finding standing balance because they will be moving their weight forward because they recognized they are off balance. Once they have their balance they can begin taking steps towards a support surface. Just be prepared to catch them if they lunge or lose their balance. You can keep moving the support slowly further away so they take more and more steps.
Hope these ideas are helpful, we use a combination each time! What are some ways you have worked on independent steps?