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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities

Parent Information

Methods for Promoting Independent Walking

Parents frequently ask us for help in promoting independent walking for their child. At the Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities, we have learned that children who walk earlier afford themselves with more opportunities to interact with peers and siblings, encouraging further motor and cognitive development. The purpose of this section is to give parents suggestions for promoting independent walking, starting from the first few months of life through the onset of independent walking.

1.      Kickstart Gym

a.        promotes leg strength

2.      Crawl n Cruise Playground

a.       provides motivating factor for locomotion, both crawling and walking

3.      Sturdy Walkers

a.       provides support during the middle and final stages of learning to walk

b.      assists in walking, which in turn helps the infant become accustomed to using upright locomotion as their primary mode of transportation.

c.       Recommended: Little Tikes Walker

4.      Clothes Pins / Toy Softball Bat

a.       allows you to put some distance between yourself and the child as they are walking with assistance

b.      this distance will assist the child in becoming more confident and comfortable in walking on his/her own

5.      Remove Sofa Cushions

a.       Sofas, in general, are too tall for children to grab on to for assistance in pulling themselves up to a stand.  Removing the cushions seems to alleviate this problem.

b.      Once the child has pulled up to a stand at the sofa, the edge of the sofa provides a good guide for the child to begin cruising.

6.      Place toys and other motivating factors at standing eye level

a.      Placing toys and other motivating items at the eye level of the child when he/she is standing promotes independent standing

b.      Once the child is able to stand on his/her own, eye level items will be the motivating factors that will promote independent walking, as the child begins to reach and try to attain these items.

7.      Promote an Upright Posture beginning at an early age

a.      Promoting an upright posture at an early age helps to improve leg strength, a critical factor for independent standing and eventually walking

b.      The early exposure to being upright also helps the child become accustomed to this posture.

8.      Be Consistent

9.      Promote Independent Functioning

a.      Carrying your child too much will delay his/her ability to learn independent locomotion, as he/she will become reliant on you

10.  Take full advantage of the services offered to you through your IEP/IFSP

a.      Know what you are entitled to through your school district or Early On services

b.      Become actively involved in your child’s therapy

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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities
401 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734)936-2607, Fax (734)936-1925

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Copyright © 1999 The Regents of the University of Michigan
Created September 1, 1999