Toddler walking – you questions answered

Our health visitors puts your mind at rest as she answers all your toddler walking questions and fears

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1) My toddler isn’t walking yet

Q. Unlike his friends, our 15-month-old son is showing no signs of walking, although he crawls and shuffles very quickly. People say he’s lazy, but is he normal?

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A. Your little one sounds very mobile and active, and definitely not lazy. Developmental milestones vary enormously from child to child. While one child will develop communication, another may be getting to grips with bricks and puzzles, and yet another will be honing his climbing and walking skills. Difficult though it can be, try to avoid comparisons between children and focus on your own child’s development. Concentrate on helping him with his efforts, and celebrate what he can do, too.

Give your little one plenty of play on the floor, at home and within play areas, sandpits and toddler groups. If he’s not up on his feet by 18 months, it would be a good idea to have a chat with your GP, who’ll check him over. Most children are walking by 18 months although a few will wait until their second birthday, which is still well within normal parameters

2) Time for shoes?

Q. My toddler has just started taking his first few steps. Does this mean he needs shoes?

A. Once your little one is walking confidently, on his own, you can buy him his first pair of shoes. Initially, shoes are best used when walking outside only. Have his feet measured for each new pair of shoes that you buy – for most children under 4, this will be every six to eight weeks. Choose shoes that are made from natural materials, such as leather, cotton or canvas, as plastic shoes can make the feet sweaty and uncomfortable, and cause fungal infections.

Remember that his socks are important, too. If they are too tight, his little toes can’t straighten out and grow properly, so also review the size of his socks with each new pair of shoes that you buy.

3) She’s a shuffler!

Q. My 18-month-old daughter is still shuffling around on her bottom, showing no signs of walking. Is this normal?

A. I know you’ve heard this before, but all babies really do develop at their own rate in all areas. It’s not uncommon for some children to wait until they’re 2 years old before they walk independently, although that’s more common where there’s a family history of late walking. It won’t hurt to get her checked by your GP, who’ll look at her muscle tone, hips and other areas of development. In the majority of cases, there’s no problem and you will be sent away to let her go at her own pace, offering her plenty of time to play on the floor at home and at toddler groups with her peers. If she’s still not up and about after her second birthday, your doctor will check her again.

4) Tumbling tot

Q. My toddler falls over a lot when he runs. How can we help keep him on his feet?

A. Occasional tripping and falling is normal as your toddler is learning how to navigate obstacles and co-ordinate his body. But if you feel the falling is excessive, or has gone on for longer than a few months, it’s worth seeing your GP to check everything’s OK in terms of his development.

It’s a good idea to check your toddler’s shoes fit properly too.

Feet should be measured approximately every six to eight weeks for children under 4, even if your toddler doesn’t complain about his shoes being tight – he doesn’t always feel his shoes cramping because he has soft bones. Check socks are the right fit too, as toes get squashed if socks are pinching.

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And keep giving him plenty of opportunities to run around. This shouldn’t be impeded as it’s natural – after all, the more he does it the quicker he’ll learn to keep his balance.

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