My Baby Can Walk, Now What?

How do I practice gross motor skills with my walking toddler? Once my toddler is walking, what do I work on next?

Just a quick, happy note to say, Smiley Man is officially walking!! In case you missed it, I talked about his Gross Motor Delay a few weeks ago and wrote about some games that encourage walking. Do you have a walker, but aren’t sure how to keep him/her strong and growing in gross motor development? Here are a few ideas:

Walk on Different Surfaces:

Have your toddler walk on grass, gravel, sand, bark, and playground rubber. Let them practice walking up hills and up stairs. Give them a wide variety of surfaces to practice their new walking skills. Be sure to let them walk in bumpy grass and smooth concrete. Give your toddler lots of opportunities to practice walking on different surfaces.

Practicing Gross Motor Skills

Play Back and Forth Games:

Have a pile of objects (bean bags, balls, small toys, etc.) on the floor and a bucket about 10-20 feet away. Have your child pick up one toy at a time, walk over to the bucket, and put the object in the bucket. Be sure to give lots of praise so your child has fun. Give them 5 or a hug every time they put something in the bucket. Smiley Man could do this game all day long, which gets extremely helpful we are putting his toys away at the end of the day. ;) This just gives him another chance to practice his gross motor skills.

Climbing:

Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to climb on a variety of surfaces. This will strengthen the muscles that it takes to walk. Have your toddler climb up the couch, onto the bed, on playground equipment, on play places like McDonald’s has, onto chairs, etc. Obviously use caution as your child is climbing. Teach your child to be safe, but give them lots of opportunities to use their leg muscles.

Crawl up Stairs:

Teach your toddler how to crawl up stairs. This builds slightly different muscles than walking does, but it will still help greatly with gross motor development. Be sure that your toddler uses both legs equally as he/she goes up the stairs. My Smiley Man likes to favor his left foot, so I have to teach him how to use his right foot to go up the stairs.

Practicing Gross Motor Skills

Dancing:

Put on some music and dance with your toddler. Your child will have so much fun, he won’t even know he’s working on his gross motor skills. Dance to different types of music (classical, pop, kids’ songs, etc.) and demonstrate different dancing styles depending on the music.

I have to say it is a huge relief that Smiley Man is walking. I know we still have work ahead of us (especially since he doesn’t use his right leg at all when going up stairs), but we have come so far. It breaks my heart to see him struggle with his gross motor delay, but I know that in the end it will only make him stronger.