Walking is first seen by age 12- 16 months, while concern usually follows after the 16-month range if your child is not yet walking. As physical therapists, we teach kiddos to walk on a daily basis. While therapists and parents get so excited to meet that huge milestone, there are many skills that immediately follow that we, as physical therapists, like to see the child meet. Below is a list of a few of these skills that are important aspects of perfecting independent ambulation.
- Walking on uneven surfaces:
- Have a kiddo walk on uneven surfaces improves the balance, strength, and stability of the new walker. These types of surfaces can include grass, rocks, sand, bark. When you are not able to get outside, there are many items in a common household that you could use such as pillows, yoga mats, clothing, and couch cushions.
- Inclines and Declines
- When kiddos learn to walk, they tend to have a hard time grading their speed while walking up and down small hills. This skill takes a lot more muscle control and balance! For this skill, practice practice practice! The more you can expose your child to this task, the better they will get at it.
- Stepping over objects in the path:
- When a child is learning to step over objects, he/she is learning to stand on one foot even if it is just for a very short amount of time. In order to stand on one foot, they are also learning how to weight shift from side to side. It is important that you have the child practice stepping over different-sized objects in order to increase the difficulty of the task.
These are just a few of the developmental milestones that quickly follow walking. Parents often understand that walking is a goal, but confusion can come as to what they should look for next for their little one. If you have concerns regarding your child’s ability to ambulate independently and safely, contact us at T.E.A.M 4 Kids!
Lauren Yoshida, PT, DPT, ATC