Walk on!

Walk on!
Before babies take their first steps, they spend a lot of time in their parents’ arms. It’s a special moment to see them walking on their own!

Before babies take their first steps, they spend a lot of time in their parents’ arms. It’s a special moment to see them walking on their own!

Médérik, 22 months old, took his first steps around the time he turned one, recalls his dad, Yanick. “He started out by walking while holding onto the wall, and then one day, he was up and at ’em without any help. It was great to watch him go, I was proud of him,” Yanick says. “It was funny because Médérik would take two or three steps, stop, bend his knees and do a little dance, then take off again. We like to say that he was dancing before he learned to walk!”

Like Médérik, one in two toddlers will start walking around their first birthday, but their first steps may take place anywhere between 10 and 18 months. Before learning to walk, babies typically start with sliding on their bellies and then move on to crawling on their hands and knees. “These two stages allow babies to develop their balance and learn how to move to get around,” says Sonya Côté, an occupational therapist. “They’re also strengthening their necks, legs, stomachs, and backs so they can eventually hold themselves upright.” If your little one skips one of these stages, it’s okay to let her walk around on two feet. However, it’s still recommended that you play games with her that involve bellysliding and crawling on all fours.

Shoes or no shoes?
When babies are first learning to walk, there is no need to have them wear shoes inside the house. Walking barefoot exercises the muscles in their feet. It also helps them develop stability, balance, coordination, and muscle strength.

How can you help?

“For babies, every stage of motor development prepares them for learning to walk,” says Côté. “Being on their stomachs, for example, works their neck muscles, building the strength they’ll need to keep their heads up while sliding on their tummies, crawling, and, ultimately, walking.”

Did you know?
Some babies start crawling so early that it takes them longer to learn to walk. They simply don’t feel the need to find another way of getting around.

Côté recommends helping your baby along by allowing him to play on the floor on a regular basis. “That will give him a chance to use his body weight against gravity, build strength, and explore movement,” she explains.

Yanick’s youngest, sixmonthold Dérek, isn’t at the bellysliding stage yet, but his dad knows it won’t be long. “He’s a sturdy baby. Put him on the ground and he won’t move, he’s like a rock,” Yanick jokes. “But more seriously, he has no trouble rolling from his back onto his stomach, and if you put a toy near him, he reaches for it. We’re always having him play on the floor. He still likes when we hold him, but I know he’ll eventually start sliding on his belly.”


Naître et grandir

SourceNaître et grandir magazine, January–February 2018
Research and copywriting: Julie Leduc
Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator


Photo: Maxim Morin