Teaching your child to walk is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. For so many parents, those first steps are part of a fleeting moment. After months of being entirely dependent on you for every single need and whim, the first steps indicate a huge step toward mounting independence. Sure, your toddler will still need you to take care of every need, but from that first step and onwards, those needs are to be handled on the fly. Meals, bottles, diapers and more become an exciting game of catch-me-if-you-can.
For many parents, the memory of those first steps is a blur. The transition from rolling to crawling to walking comes so fast that it is difficult to keep every memory isolated. However, for others, the memories aren’t quite so positive. When a child is a late walker, feelings of excitement are often truncated by feelings of anxiety and dread. Questions regarding proper development outweigh the appreciation of having your infant remain an infant for just a little while longer.
When this happens, turning to physical therapy can help. No parent should ever feel left alone with a developmental concern. Working with a physical therapist can give you the peace of mind you need to care for your child without constant questions of their ability to move forward.
One step at a time
When developmental progress is brought into question, it can be difficult to take life one step at a time. For a parent, there is nothing as stressful as seeing other children push past your own child, leaving your child left behind as they develop at a slower pace than may be average or expected.
In those moments, it is incredibly important to keep in mind that slower doesn’t mean never. Just because your child is developing at a slower pace, that doesn’t at all indicate they won’t be making those strides eventually. In fact, there are many late walkers who are able to overcome the delay and catch up with their peers without concern.
If you are concerned about your child not taking their first steps on target, then it may be time to talk to a physical therapist about their development. There are also several things you can do at home to encourage them to take those first steps.
Here are a few strategies that may be helpful:
- Encourage barefoot exploration as much as possible. Sometimes, shoes and socks can actually be a disruption to ideal developmental steps. Being barefoot can help them develop more tactile awareness, and it may help them feel more stable on their feet.
- Clear the floor of all toys, and keep their belongings in easy-to-reach storage solutions along the perimeter of the room. Doing this will prevent their few steps from being obstructed with toys and will make it more enticing to walk to their destination rather than crawl.
- Engage in activities that require a lot of up-and-down movements. Reaching overhead and picking things up from the floor are great ways to help your infant build core strength.
If your child isn’t getting started with their first steps on track with your expectations, then reach out to a physical therapist for support. The worst thing you can do is stress over the health of your child. Remember: Late development doesn’t mean won’t develop. Talking to a professional pediatric therapist about healthy strategies can help bring calmness to your life and help your child with taking their first steps. If physical therapy is something that is determined to be helpful to your child, then it is worth exploring the option as early as possible.
Contact us for more information regarding the use of pediatric therapy to help your child take his or her first steps.