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Ways to Support and Encourage New Walkers

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Over the course of your baby's first year, he will learn to sit, roll over, and crawl. Then, as your child develops greater strength, coordination, and confidence, he will start to pull himself up and stand while holding onto something. Typically babies take their first steps between 12 and 15 months - but keep in mind that every child is different and there is a large range in the age that children learn to walk. Whenever your little one is ready, here are a few tips and tricks to help guide your child through this exciting time:

1. The first step is to make sure your child has a safe environment for learning to walk. Keep the floor space clear, block off any unsafe areas like stairs, move any unstable surfaces, and cover any sharp corners on furniture. If possible, try to encourage walking in an area with carpet or a rug.

2. Pick up a wheeled push toy or activity walker with a wide, heavy base, to give your child something sturdy to hold onto while she practices walking. These toys can help strengthen leg muscles and refine balance. Don't opt for a walker – walkers may inhibit the development of coordination and balance, and can be dangerous. Your child could fall down the stairs or scoot close enough to grab an unsafe object.

3. Bending over or kneeling in front of your child and taking her hands also helps to guide her and gives her confidence.

4. You can encourage your child to takes a few steps by leaving a couple of enticing toys just a little out of reach when he stands up. Try placing a favorite item just one or two couch cushions over, or on the other side of the table, so he can walk with support to his goal.

5. If your baby cries or calls out while standing, he may feel stuck and need a little help getting back down. Instead of putting baby on his bottom again, gently guide his knees to bend to help him figure it out for himself.

6. No need to buy shoes for baby until she is walking outside or on particularly rough, hot, or cold surfaces. Going barefoot helps to tone muscles, develop, arches and encourage coordination. 

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