Walking backwards is a gross motor milestone that is typically seen around 1.5 to 2 years of age. It’s a challenging task that takes time to develop confidence as it’s not a standard movement pattern that children are used to and are more commonly seen at first when trying to maintain balance. Here are some reasons why walking backwards benefits a toddler’s development.
- Safety and Reflexes: With a loss of balance backwards, a typical reaction is to take a step or two backwards to regain your balance. It’s a natural reaction but needs to be development in children who are learning upright exploration.
- Balance: Walking backwards helps improve overall balance and improves safety. Taking a step backwards takes more time than walking forwards and requires standing on one leg longer. Also check out our video on backwards balance reactions.
- Coordination: Alternating feet when walking backwards improves coordination. The timing of movements required to swing your arms and legs using reciprocal movements is challenged even more with running backwards.
- Body and Spatial Awareness: When we move backwards, we can’t see as well as when we move forwards. Walking backwards challenges your other vestibular senses and improves body awareness and where your body is compared to your environment. It helps improve your ability to avoid bumping into objects when your sense of sight is limited.
- Strengthens Muscles in Different Ways: When you walk backwards you are challenging and working different muscles that aren’t normally used when you walk forwards. It’s a great way to add some variety to your exercise routine and work your core, glutes, quads, and calves. Working these muscles helps with overall gross motor development.
Ways to walk backwards
- Pull Toy: Hold the string and watch the toy comes toward you as you walk backwards (Check out our Amazon Store Infant/Toddler list for some of our favorites!)
- Handrail: Hold on to handrail to give you extra stability and help guide you
- Walking with a Shared Toy: While holding onto the same object, one person slowly walks forwards as the other person walks backwards
- Crowd Their Space: If you slowly walk closer and closer to your little one they will often take a step or two backwards in response
- Using a Push Toy: This can be similar to using a pull toy but they get a little more stability