How to encourage a toddler to walk

How to encourage a toddler to walk

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Toddler should mean walker, shouldn’t it? But for many of us, milestones seem to come later than expected norms. Read on for some practical ways to help encourage a toddler to walk.


Are you struggling with How to encourage a toddler to walk? Do you have a late walker who refuses to let go? These practical positive parenting tips will help encourage your tot!


According to Wikipedia:

A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three.

But if you’re the parent of an 18 month old who refuses to walk, you know that the “toddler” stage can sometimes start with nerves and lots of worrying.


I spent the first half year of the toddler stage worrying instead of doing. I wanted him to walk for my sister’s wedding. Then I wanted him to do it in time for our trip to Israel. And then I just wanted to be able to tell the doctor at our eighteen month checkup “Yes, of course he walks like a pro!”.


How to encourage a toddler to walk


But this wasn’t the case. At our visit to the doctor, I sighed and told him that no, M does not walk yet. He had been cruising since nine months, but still wouldn’t let go. We discussed therapy, which the doctor (thankfully) decided wasn’t necessary. So I went home and started “doing” instead.


To tell you the truth, there were some small tips that experts do recommend, that we were already implementing. We stepped up our game after our visit. This led up to the day when M stood up and started walking. And he hasn’t stopped walking since.


How to encourage a toddler to walk

(This list includes some product recommendations – all of them things that we personally used to help M walk. Links are affiliate links.)


1. Don’t force it- The key is to create a safe and comfortable environment for your child to learn on her own! Encourage rather than push.


2. Give many opportunities – for your child to walk! That means holding your child as little as possible and allowing for plenty of free movement and play time.


3. Skip the shoes – When you are indoors, let your child run barefoot so that he can feel the floor properly.


4. Use soft shoes when necessary – While everyone was telling me that my baby doesn’t need shoes, I did want to follow with tip 2 – allowing my child to cruise even when outdoors!

I put these slipper socks on him to protect his feet when playing outside, allowing for many more opportunities, while still allowing him to feel the floor. I used them also in the winter on my cold ceramic floor.


How to encourage a toddler to walk


5. Walk holding your hand when ready – When we were in Israel (when M was 18 months old) we seized every single opportunity to walk with him holding his hands. We took him out of his stroller on our day trips, and we both held his hands. He LOVED it!

The key is to do this once your child cruises very nicely, but doesn’t want to let go. It teaches her to move along with just her feet, and gives her a sense of walking like the big people.


How to encourage a toddler to walk


6. Walk with a chair – A walker can move too quickly for toddlers who aren’t ready to let go yet. We let M practice while sliding a kitchen chair (one that was steady and wouldn’t tip).


7. Consider therapy – There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting some help if it’s needed! If your toddler isn’t walking by eighteen months, you should definitely discuss it with your doctor, to see if there maybe any underlying problems.


The final thing that got my late walker to let go:


This final tip was the last straw that got M to let go and run! Once he started, he wouldn’t stop…


8. Use a padded play mat – That one Friday, soon after we entered his 20th month, we got a foam play mat that was meant just for fun. I took out the toy cars, showed M how to drive on the roads, and put him down to play. Instead, he got up and started walking!


A video posted by menucha (@menuchadesign) on


Afterward, I spoke to a friend who told me that her physical therapist encouraged her to get something similar to help her baby crawl. The soft foam is easier and more comfortable for young children to be active on.



There’s one last message I want to leave you with…



How do I know that? Because you clicked through to read this – which means that you are concerned about your toddler’s development. It’s great moms that worry, and many children who have developmental delays have great moms too.

Don’t worry. Your child will learn! And while you wait… celebrate the “forgotten” smaller milestones, and call Grandma with each new one. You have a lot to be proud of!


What tips do you have to encourage a toddler to walk? Share it in the comments section below!



Are you struggling with How to encourage a toddler to walk? Do you have a late walker who refuses to let go? These practical positive parenting tips will help encourage your tot!


Disclaimer: I am not an therapist, pediatrician, or an expert of any sort. I am a fellow mom, sharing what worked for us! Don’t take any of these claims as medical advice, and always consult with a professional if your child is not reaching milestones on time.

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  1. Therapy for birth to three is Early Intervention. It is an entitled program (like a free public education). Every state has them! Use them! It falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part-C. I would encourage families not to wait. There could be an underlying reason your child is a “late walker”. It is called a developmental delay after or at 18 months of age.

    1. Absolutely – I agree! I put that as tip 7 (though I think it should be the first step). Our doctor did NOT refer us to therapy, because he recognized that there was no underlying reason. That’s why we looked for other ways to encourage him. But I second that ^^ If you have a child who is delayed, you should definitely ask your doctor about it.

  2. Thanks for writing this. My 19 month isn’t walking and we’ve had her checked by her doc and a paediatric physio and she’s all good. She’s very strong and able, but just not confident enough to let go. It means a lot reading this. Thanks for putting it out into the universe for other mamas to weep over.

    1. No problem! A year later and we can’t believe we ever worried 🙂 While there ARE things to do it’s so important to 1. make sure there’s nothing wrong and once that’s done 2. know it will come…

  3. I appreciate this article so much! It’s hard having mom friends who’s children are similar in age as my daughter who have all surpassed her in gross motor skills, most have been walking since before 12 months, but as for my little girl she is still not confident to walk just yet. Its difficult as a parent to not feel judged, though i am confident that her fine motor skills far exceed her age level! Our ped also didn’t recommend therapy as she isn’t showing any signs of physical problems, she just isn’t determined. But I feel relief in reading this that my almost 19 month old isn’t walking just yet. We do encourage her as often as we can, but she is stubborn and will sit herself down when she’s finished, so I also appreciate your tip of not forcing, I feel like if we force it will just counteract our encouragement. We also try to prompt more standing by elevating her toys, and lessen the amount of floor toys so she can feel her weight while on her feet.

    1. Hi Jessica, I’m so glad I was able to encourage you! My son is three years old now, and not yet running. We finally had a physical therapist evaluate him and determined that it’s his arch problems (which are related to genetics) and he may need to wear an orthopedic, but otherwise he’s totally fine. It might seem scary, but eventually they do learn. He throws and kicks a ball beautifully, can jump and hop, and is otherwise up to date with his peers. I feel like sometimes we can get a skewed image of what’s normal, just because people show off milestones, and don’t announce when their children DON’T reach milestones. But as long as we are in touch with our pediatricians, there is comfort in knowing that not EVERYONE is walking by 12 months.

  4. My son is only 13 months old but all people ask is, “is he walking yet?” It drives me crazy because it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. We were sure he would be an early walker because he began confidently crawling between 6-7 months and cruising at 8 months but it’s his confidence. I see it in his face that he WANTS to try but he just doesn’t want to fail. I don’t feel like we pressure him but I think he just has perfectionist tendencies. He also is so determined to do it alone, when we try and get him to walk holding his hands he picks his legs up in anger like, “Mommy/Daddy, let me do it.” I feel better knowing he’s got plenty of time and I’m not the only one feeling this way.

    1. Amanda, I totally get it. For me, my approach is to give them the opportunities and then step back. With my older son that prompted me to write the article, it took 19 months and when he stood up he walked perfectly. With my younger son, I used the techniques in this article and he walked at 18 months, as I was about to dial up early intervention for an evaluation. And he wasn’t doing it perfectly – he still needs to learn. Each kid learns differently. Don’t let others talk you down. My kids were also crawling and cruising so well – I think if anything that gives them a bigger “comfort zone” in that area and they’re more hesitant to try something new – that’s my theory at least. If your son isn’t walking by 18 months, schedule an evaluation. Otherwise, just continue to do what works for you. 13 months is young! Does he look older? Maybe that’s why people are bothering you about it?

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