FIRST: If your baby is limping or was walking A LOT and now stopped, please have them evaluated to make sure no other problems exist. This post is for new walkers with no limping etc.
I have been promising to post on this to the number of you who have emailed me about this. I will tell you that this is a normal part of the development of some babies. Let me explain:
Starting to walk is a very challenging activity. Your baby has to control a large number of muscles and joints as well as balance on two very small feet. As your child develops the courage and skills to take the first few steps, he or she may want to do it over and over to your cheers and praise. Soon, however, the praise is not enough to counteract the fact that sometimes your baby will fall. Falling is wonderful and terrible at the same time. A pediatric PT would work on practicing falling with controlled falling games and songs. This way, your child would develop the ability and the confidence to get down from standing. Falls teach your baby a lot about the world.
Let’s review a few principles:
1.) Always work on short distances when practicing walking. Keep the distance short–maybe one or two steps only at first. Keep it here for awhile. Don’t push too hard. Soon enough your little one will venture further.
2.) NEVER back up. Always give your cutie a solid and dependable stopping point. How awful if you were trying to walk a tight rope and someone kept extending the end point! You would be scared and less willing to do it again. The same is true for your baby.
3.) Falling teaches a LOT. A baby needs to learn what he or she did wrong. Provide a carpeted or soft surface to practice so that the falls don’t hurt so much but have the value of teaching. PRACTICE falling with games like Ring Around the Rosie.
4.) Some babies will pull to stand and not know how to get down. You may find your baby standing in his or her crib crying and not know why. It is possible that they don’t know how to get down. Work on up and down games with a bucket of blocks. 5.) Have fun and BE PATIENT! Enjoy this time. It is precious! Also, your baby may look very funny at first. Give him or her time to develop walking skills and watch the gait pattern change. Video early steps. His or her arms will usually be high and feet wide. Video again about every week or so and watch the arms drop and the feet get closer. See my pages on toeing in and out for answers about that.
Now, getting back to the original question: Why has my baby stopped walking?
Most of the time, a baby is fascinated with standing and taking steps, and then the fascination wears off. A bad fall could also affect this. You may not even know that your baby had a scary fall. Either way, walking is a lot of work at first. Getting around on hands and knees is faster, so your baby will most likely want to revert to this for awhile. Don’t push, he or she will return to standing soon enough. There are some tricks to helping this. Several are outlined in my book; but a basic one is to always demand that your baby stand to be picked up. Do this subtly and he or she will never know!
For ideas on how to play with your child to enhance development, see available books HERE