Hello, My son is 18 months old and still isn’t walking… He’s crawling very well, and stands and walks only with support (tables and such as well as with our help). The problem is that he doesn’t stand up by himself without support. When we let go he immediately sits and starts crawling. We went to physical therapy and realized that he stands on his tiptoes and thus hasn’t the sensation of his foot on the floor. We did exercises and massage with him to the physical therapist’s recommendation and there was not improvement. I want to mention that the physical therapist says that he doesn’t have a particular problem (and even at some point recommended we try and get him shoes even though it’s not recommended maybe that’s what will bring him confidence). I also want to mention that developmentally he didn’t have a specific problem, crawled at a regular age, and he’s speaking very well for his age. We’re trying to walk him with us and he really likes the “game” but as soon as we let go he stands for half a second and immediately sits down. What can I do? Thank you.

Answer:

Your son doesn’t feel stable enough yet to let go of his hands in standing and walking on his own. A baby must establish his balance ability on his own in a gradual manner before starting to walk. Make sure your son practices balance while standing, sitting and crawling, but it’s not recommended to try and walk him. Balance is one of the important skills a baby needs to obtain in his initial months of life. A good balance in early stages (rolling, hands and knees, crawling and sitting) constitutes the basis for stable standing, walking and the other gross motor movements in later stages (climbing, jumping, skipping and so on). Balance should develop right after birth by carrying the baby in our arms and providing spatial movement. Then the balance organ in the ear comes into action. Varied movement experiences will help (swing, hammock etc). Balance is composed of efficient functioning of the balance organ in the ear and mobility of the body to stabilize itself in space. When you help him with walking you prevent him from practicing on his own, create dependency on you and an inability to detach from the “crutch”. I recommend: practice balance with your son through play in early stages. For instance: – On the floor roll him from back to belly and belly to back. Many times and rapidly (that way he’ll practice again weight shifting while lying down). – Lay him on his back and with your head solely roll him to the belly, and from belly to the back. – From sitting, using a pillow give him gentle pushes that will take him out of balance and train him to balance. The pushing should be given on the sides of the body and shoulders. Let him move by the push to all directions with the upper body (forwards, backwards and to the sides). – Sitting on a ball – sit him on the ball and hold from the pelvis and bounce in place, motion forwards and backwards and to the sides. Observe that he moves his back in order to stabilize. – Place him on your shoulders and hold from the back or shoulders and move right, left, forward and back in order for him to practice balance. – Standing, while leaning on an object stimulate using a toy for reaching a hand forward. Once with the right hand and once with the left. That way he’ll practice weight shifting and gain confidence to let go of his hands. And most important is to let him experiment freely in a protected environment but one that will allow him much independence.