Pandemic isolation is causing developmental delays in infants. For the first time in 20 years, the CDC has even updated the ages at which babies should reach milestones. For example, instead of walking by 12 months, the CDC now says parents shouldn’t expect that milestone until 18 months. But parents should still be taking action to encourage infants to get moving. But when a baby is stumbling and falling and ending up with bumps and bruises on their knees, it’s easy to become a helicopter parent and prevent kids from progressing their motor skills. The balance of protecting children yet enabling them to learn and develop to the very best of their abilities isn’t easy, but with the tips below, parents can help encourage them to walk and crawl with confidence.
START WORKING ON MOTOR SKILLS YOUNG
Although most children don’t start walking until around 10-15 months old, motor skills development starts young, and it’s important to ensure parents help their child progress through every stage. Tummy time isn’t just a cute way for babies to play; it also helps them develop important neck, abdominal and hip muscles that will assist babies with sitting and crawling. Once they’re crawling like a pro, parents can start helping children work on standing to build leg muscles and help improve their balance, coordination, and agility.
Your child’s favorite stuffed animal isn’t just an opportunity for a cute photo. One easy way to help a baby crawl or walk is to place their favorite toy a little out of reach while still having the toy be accessible. Being rewarded for their success by learning to use their body to get to where they want to go is important. When they’re ready, placing the toy further from where they are can really get them moving and developing important motor skills.
WALK WITH THEM
Assisted walking is a great way to encourage movement. This involves standing behind your child and holding them up in the standing position. By gently moving their arms forward one after the other, their feet will naturally follow. Once your baby understands and recognizes the movements, it’s important for parents to continue to make their child feel supported, without making every physical move for them.
Walking with the baby doesn’t have to involve controlling their every step. Walk next to your child and let them take a few wobbly solo steps. The most important part of your child learning to walk is knowing they have support. This is important for building resilience. Parents should remember that their child will meet their development milestones at their own pace. Some children begin walking around nine months; others won’t start until 18 months. Encouraging exploration is major as it is a physical activity and a mental journey enabling curiosity, discovery, adaptation, etc.
REACT APPROPRIATELY WHEN THEY FALL
As difficult as it may seem, not entering a drama spiral when your baby falls is important. Coming out of hard events with support and compassion helps everyone build resilience, but overreacting can create fear. This is a great long-term life skill that parents and caregivers have a real impact on. For example, your body language, tone, and facial expressions are crucial when you see your baby fall. Try not to yell, run, or show panic. Presenting concern, compassion and empathy are the correct responses to not discourage their exploration but encourage them to get back up on their feet.
PROTECT THEIR FALLS
Crib shoes won’t do your baby much good when it comes to walking outside. Children need a shoe that protects their feet from injury. While walking barefoot is great indoors to strengthen foot and ankle muscles, it’s important to upgrade your baby’s shoe collection for public places and the outdoors to assist their newest adventure of walking.
There are also great clothing items out there to protect children from the inevitable falling that happens when they’re learning to walk. Sandra Aris creates stylish, innovative pants to help instill confidence and curiosity in kids learning to walk or crawl using 3D padded technology found in motocross, motorbike, and ski apparel. The pants absorb the shock from falls to help encourage kids to get back up and try again.
Make sure the space where babies and toddlers walk and crawl is safe. Remove tripping hazards such as cords, toys, and blankets, and encourage them to explore areas with a lot of room. Place a padded rug in the area your baby most commonly practices sitting, standing, and walking. To avoid becoming a helicopter parent and allowing kids to explore, make sure to baby-proof things like cabinets, doors, and tables’ edges. This can keep kids from getting into trouble or hurt while giving them the confidence and freedom to explore where they are.
About the author: Sandra Aris, mom and entrepreneur, creates protective clothing (Sandra Aris Pants) for children to help encourage confidence and resilience. After years working for and designing clothing at motor-cross and athletic gear companies, Sandra wanted to use her expertise to create a product that can stop parents from becoming overprotective and provide kids with the comfort they need to explore. For more information visit: https://www.sandraaris.com/products/protective-padded-pants
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