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Walking is an exciting motor milestone!

Baby typically takes their first steps around their first birthday. So how can you make this milestone more fun? Here are some activities to help encourage walking!

Cruise along furnitureBaby standing next to sofa at living room cruising along furniture

Cruising is side stepping while holding on to something. You can encourage baby to walk, or cruise, along something their height, like a couch base. Safety tip: Make sure baby is holding on to something sturdy that will not tip. Because baby is just getting the hang of things they may fall, so make sure they are surrounded by soft surfaces!

Support their trunk

In baby’s early days of walking and standing they’ll be a little unsteady. Rather than holding their hands, it may be more helpful to baby if you support their trunk. Put your hands around their ribs since that is a better area to stabilize to provide more support to the spine/trunk. It is expected for baby to fall at this age, as they will just be getting the hang of things. Here’s what to do if baby falls.

Give baby something to hold onto

As baby is standing more, they may grab you and other items for support. If you want to encourage them to take steps without support, try keeping their hands full! With something small in their hands, they may try walking without support. Try a small egg shaker, a small toy, small stuffed animals, or a favorite toy they won’t want to let go of!

Encourage them with toys

Baby loves toys! Use them to give them a reason to walk over to you. Tease them with toys just out of reach, so they have to find a way to come closer to you.

Reach up and down

Rather than just thinking forward, try to get baby to reach up and down! You can do this by putting a toy up high, like on a couch cushion or on top of a box, or use something like bubbles or balloons, which float upwards. For reaching down, you can put toys on the ground.

Set up a scavenger hunt

Toddler doing a scavenger hunt

Another way to motivate baby to walk is by setting up a hunt around the house. Place toys around the house so baby has to search for them. Safety tip: Always join baby on their hunt!

Give it a push

Have baby try a push toy to help baby walk! Push toys may look like lawnmowers or carts, and will motivate baby to stand and take steps with some support. At first, parents may need to help slow down the toy either with their hands or by adding weight since baby won’t be able to control if it is lightweight.  Small shopping carts are great options, you can put heavy stuff in the basket to slow it down. Bonus of pushing weighted cart: baby has to use their core even more to move it forward!

Safety note: a push toy is different from a baby walker. The AAP strongly urges parents to not use baby walkers. A baby walker typically has a “seat” for baby as they use their feet to move around. They can be a safety risk and lead to dangerous falls. They also do not aid in baby’s development. Instead, look for a push toy where baby’s feet are on the ground, supporting their weight.

Happy walking!