11 - 12 Months

6 OT expert tips to encourage first steps

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It’s not unusual if your baby’s nearing their first birthday and not walking. To get them ready, try these OT-approved tips for practicing pre-walking skills like cruising and standing without support from Rachel Coley, Lovevery’s pediatric occupational therapist.

6 OT tips to encourage first steps

  1. Have your baby practice barefoot on the floor. This gives them full sensory feedback through their feet and supports healthy foot development. 
  2. Set up two pieces of furniture—like a couch and a low table—parallel to each other and with enough space in between for your baby to cruise while holding onto both. Sit or kneel at the opposite end of this aisle from your baby and invite them to get an interesting plaything or object. 
  3. If your baby can stand unsupported, offer them a toy within their reach. Hold onto the toy as they grasp it, then move it a small distance to see if your baby will step toward it. When they feel comfortable with that, try it again, standing a little farther away to see if they’ll take an independent step.
  4. Set up a straight line of small toys on the floor and offer your baby the handle of the Treasure Basket (or another basket with two handles). With your baby holding onto one end of the basket and you holding the other, encourage them to take a step toward the toys. Lean over and show your baby how to pick up the first toy in line and place it in the basket. Then move to the next one, encouraging your baby to step along with you and pick up the next toy. The squatting they do to pick up toys is great for their core strength and balance.
  5. With your baby standing next to a wall or padded furniture for support, wait just a step or two away with outstretched arms.
  6. Falling is a big part of learning to walk, so try to avoid a negative reaction when it happens. Instead, consider saying something purely descriptive: ‘Down you go,’ or even ‘You fell down.’ 

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Posted in: 11 - 12 Months, 13 - 15 Months, Lovevery App, Gross Motor, Walking, Standing, Cruising, Child Development

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