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My 11 month old son has been "cruising" for the past two months. He pulls himself up to standing quite readily, and walks quite well while holding onto something with both hands, or even one hand (although there is a clear lack of confidence in his balance when he's only holding on with one hand).

Should I just be waiting for him to decide to try and walk on his own? Or are there ways to help him develop balance and encourage him to walk on his own, since he seems ready?

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Does this toddler need encouragement, or will it only discourage him? –  reinierpost Sep 1 '11 at 0:27
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Our 11 month was similar to yours, and we encouraged her to walk. We didn't push her, just encouraged.

My husband I would sit across from each other and have her walk between the two of us. We would gradually increase the distance between the two of us so she can work on her walking. The parent passing the child would hold onto the hip of the child for the first few steps. Let go. The other parent would be ready to catch the child if it falls (have arms stretched out), or just receive it. We would clap loudly and say "good girl" each time she succeeded (didn't resort to crawling at any point). The initial distance we started at was such that my husband and I could touch each other's finger tips when arms were outstretched.

We did that for 1-2 nights, and then soon enough, she would be walking small distances all by herself. Like from couch to the coffee table. And then eventually the distance just grew and grew - we were sure to encourage her (clap, etc.) each and every time she walked, no matter what the distance was. About 10 days from when we first started this, she was a walker. Then we just took her for walks everywhere - outside, parks, mall, etc. i.e. Give her the opportunity to walk.

We also encouraged walking by giving her a laundry basket to push around. Empty, light, large and stable laundry basket. She'd hold onto the narrow end and just walk with it from room to room. She LOVED pushing it around. It helps if you have a straight hallway since she did have trouble turning/maneuvering it. Now she loves pushing strollers around (she won't sit in it, she'll put her ducky in it and push it around), loves her little wheelbarrow, etc.

Encourage walking. Get ready for her falling a lot - just remember to help her get up! Soon enough, she will be a pro. Our daughter, at 12 months, was a flower girl at our cousin's wedding and walked down the aisle with a flower basket alongside the ring bearer =). No falling. In a straight line. It was natural =)

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I encourage tipping the laundry basket upside down if the top edge is smooth, as this tends to be more stable (wider at the top that's now on the bottom) and less likely for a little one to push down on the edge just right to flip the basket up on end and fall into it. (been there... the bump on his forehead only lasted a day.) –  cabbey Aug 31 '11 at 21:34
    
@cabbey, I have heard this (tipping something over onto self) termed "a cat in its curiosity". –  Ze'ev Felsen Sep 25 '13 at 2:53
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From your description I'd say he's developing normally, so there's no reason to push things along. Also, the steps he's taking provide lots of balance training for him, so I can't think of anything that would be useful in terms of extra training. I think he's doing fine, and he'll be walking sooner than you think. And then you'll wish he couldn't! :-)

You can encourage him to practice more often if you like, but look out for warning signs: his balance will be much worse when he's tired, so you should only practice with him when he's got energy to spare. For practice, you could make him stand by putting a toy on the couch table, then make him walk by squatting nearby and ask him to come to you -- but you'll invent your own "training tricks" quickly.

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I have to agree on this. The development seems to be just fine and the child is encouraging themselves even if it just cruising for now. Before you know it, they will be walking/running. –  Xaisoft Sep 8 '11 at 16:21
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I found this article that had helpful info related to this question here .

Most interesting info includes:

It takes most babies about 1,000 hours of practice from the time babies pull themselves upright to the time they can walk alone.

The single most important requirement for walking: strong back muscles developed during tummy time while awake.

Help practice balance and mobility by rolling a ball back and forth to a child once they can sit upright. Or hold a toy moving it from side to side to encourage leaning and reaching. Crawling develops strength in neck, back, legs, and arms, as well as more control of hips.

Let him walk in front of you while you hold his hands. Periodically let go of one hand so he can experiment with balance. Or stand a few feet away and cheer when he's standing on her own.

After mastering standing, arrange sturdy furniture so he can make his way across the room.

The ideas shared in the other responses are excellent. Most importantly enjoy these times of growth and development as your little one matures.

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