- Change up the surface: If your little one is walking along the furniture, encourage them to switch up the surface. Practice stepping between the couch and coffee table or ottoman. Once your child is comfortable with the surfaces close together, slowly increase the distance between the surfaces until they are taking a few independent steps between the surfaces.
- Vertical Play: Practice playing in standing at vertical surfaces such as the wall, a mirror, or the refrigerator. The vertical surface gives less support and security than flat surfaces like the couch or ottoman. Place magnets, stickers, or suction cup toys to either side to encourage them to cruise in both directions. Place them lower to encourage them to squat down a bit. All that movement helps them strengthen their legs and build up their confidence.
- Posterior Play: Practice standing with back supported on the wall or in a corner. This gives children some exposure to standing without support from their hands, which can help to build their confidence. Play clapping games, sing songs, blow bubbles or read books to help distract them. As they get comfortable, encourage them to reach forward to pop a bubble or turn a book page, reaching just far enough that they have to briefly lift their back off the wall. This will allow them to practice standing independently for short periods and will help to build their standing confidence.
- Share that Toy: Practice standing and walking with shared toys. Holding a toy will give less support than holding your hands or holding furniture. Try having your child hold on to a toy and then walk with them while you’re also holding the toy. This works particularly well with music tables, large balls, and bats/sticks, but can be done with almost any toy. Firm toys (like the music table) provide more support as does holding close to your child’s hands. Working toward walking with a towel or stuffed animal will help continue to build their confidence. A hula hoop is another great option for this!
- Decrease your Support: When walking with your child, hold their hands at or below shoulder height. Many kids get used to this support at their hands, so better yet, hold their wrists. As they get more comfortable, decrease your support to their sleeve or the back of their shirt. If you have a child who is hesitant to let go with their hands, have them carry small toys, such as cars or lightweight rattles, to give them the illusion of support at their hands while still encouraging more independence. Overtime, this will help build strength and balance to facilitate releasing support and work toward independent walking.
Check out our YouTube playlist with tons of videos to help this skill or our 6 week Pre-Walker program which can help your little one consistently take those independent steps. We also have a round-up for all our blogs that can support Developmental Milestones. Check it out!