elevating child care

9 Reasons Not To Walk Babies

I can understand the urge to walk babies. After all, they seem to like it so much. When we help our babies walk, they are gleefully entertained — enjoying us enjoying them — while we’re getting a preview of one of life’s major milestones. Sometimes we’re compelled to walk our babies because we think they need help developing their motor skills and believe it our duty to teach them. We worry that our children will fall behind if we don’t give them a hand or two (literally).

So, why rain on this innocent parade and suggest not walking babies?

1.  Body wisdom

“Only a baby knows just the way his joints should align,” notes Carol Pinto, a longtime RIE Associate, Feldenkrais practitioner and friend. In other words, when it comes to motor development, babies are self-learners — they really do know best. By holding a baby’s hands to mobilize him, position and reposition his body, we hinder his natural ability to find balance, sense spatial relations, and judge what he can and cannot do.  Better to trust our babies to walk when they are ready, and by doing so encourage mental and physical awareness.

2.  Safety

Awareness and safety go hand-in-hand, and walking babies makes them less aware — gives them a false sense of balance and of their abilities — which can be dangerous.  In Don’t Stand Me Up I describe an unfortunate incident at our home involving my unwitting husband and a friend’s toddler who was accustomed to being walked down steps.) But babies who are given freedom to move and develop in their own way gain a self-knowledge that keeps them safer. Their inner sense of balance and judgment intact, movements are carefully calculated, and they tend to make fewer reckless moves. In a 1971 study on natural gross motor development at the Pikler Institute (as reported in The RIE Manual) researchers described the children’s movements as “well-coordinated, economical and cautious”. They also noted that “the children, without exception, attained age-appropriate skills.”

3.  Habits, dependencies

Walk babies, and they’ll probably want to do it again and again. Not only does this create an unhealthy dependence on an adult for body balancing, it makes a habit of an activity that the baby will likely be much more interested in continuing (and doing far more often) than we are. Babies are extremely fond of repetition. And, personally, I’m not fond of having more situations with babies where I have to say, “No”. Babies who are not walked or otherwise positioned never ask to be.

4.  Parent’s backache

Enough said.

5.  Thwarts independent play

The walking habit creates an unnecessary and unproductive dependency on the adult for entertainment. Engaging the parent to repeat the activity becomes a distraction when the child could be happily working on developing motor skills his way, or engaged in other more educational, creative and exploratory self-generated activities.

6.  Restrictive

Although we probably believe that our well-intentioned manipulation of a baby is helping him learn to move freely, we are actually restricting him (just as we do when propping him to sit and holding him to stand). Babies need lots of practice moving freely to attain new skills. It is best to encourage that freedom and trust them to be inner-directed. Only babies know what they are ready to do and what they’re working on.

7.  Loss of transitional movements

Researchers at the Pikler Institute also noted in their observation of the 722 children raised in this model orphanage (the only place that I’m aware of where natural gross motor development has been officially studied) that the children maintained a “stable high activity level during the whole period of learning new motor skills and changed their postures on average of at least once per minute. This indicates that a child restricted from moving freely is deprived of the long hours of exercising in transitional postures before mastering the next developmental skill.” (From The RIE Manual.)

These wonderful transitional postures are one of the striking differences I’ve seen over the years between babies who are allowed to develop without interference and those who aren’t.

There is an agile 7 month old boy in my new class who spends the majority of the class in perfect straddle splits when he isn’t sitting (a recent development) or scooting across the floor. The parents (neither of whom are dancers, gymnasts, or even circus performers) and I were marveling at him just last week, wondering if, and for how long he will maintain this astonishing flexibility.

Transitional postures are building blocks, each one having a distinct and valuable developmental purpose for our child. When we, however subtly, nudge our child to sit or walk, we believe we are helping, but the child ends up losing out on experiencing a healthier developmental process which includes the wide array of naturally strength-building postures.

8.  Trust + Mastery = Self-Confidence

Basic trust in our baby means allowing him to drive his development. When a baby feels our trust and is allowed to experience his appropriate self-chosen struggles and then eventually to own his independent accomplishments (like walking), self-confidence is nurtured. Instead of, “Now I can finally do it without daddy’s hands holding me.” It’s “Wow, look what I can do!”

9.  I’m enough

When we’re dating, everyone wants to know when we’ll be married. Then we get married and it’s, “When are you having a baby?” Then, “Is the baby smiling? Sitting? Walking? Talking? When are you having baby number 2?” Why is it so hard for us to appreciate what’s going on right now?

Babies need to know that they are appreciated, enjoyed and loved for what they are able to do at this moment.  Generally, they never need our help for the basics like sitting, standing and walking. Our interference only confuses the process, and in many ways corrupts it. They really don’t need our help, as much as we’re driven to give it. As Magda Gerber writes in Dear Parent – Caring For Infants With Respect, “If infants are ready to do something, they will do it. In fact, when they are ready, they have to do it.”

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70 Responses to “9 Reasons Not To Walk Babies”

  1. avatar Helen says:

    Bravo Janet this is awesome!!! Would you mind if I print this out for my colleagues to read at work?

    • avatar janet says:

      Oh gosh, Helen, thanks and please do!

    • avatar Eleanor says:

      As a physical therapist working with babies – I could not agree more! I tell every parent that I meet to NOT hold baby’s hands and walk them. It’s all about floor time and self learning of walking by pulling up to stand and cruising! Babies need to learn to push into the floor with their legs and stand up against gravity. They are confused by being “weightless” in jumpers, walkers or with hands held!

  2. Yes, yes, yes! I could hardly agree more. Thanks for this!

  3. avatar Marilia says:

    Had I read something like this a few years ago, and maybe I would have restrained myself and others from walking my daughter.

    These 9 reasons really explain well why to quit this social-cultural habit of ours. I imagine is hard to do so for the informed new parents.

  4. avatar suzan says:

    This was a really great article Janet. Our little girl was on the late side of walking. Today at 20 months you’d never know that because she’s running and dancing and climbing all over the furniture. She’s confident and solid on her feet. I’m glad I didn’t try to “help” her walk because she had it in her all along and I don’t want to take any of the credit for helping her. Actually I had no right to take that from her. She did it all by her self and she deserved the credit. (I learned that from this website!)

    It’s easy to get caught up with comparing your own child with what other kids are doing but really, when they’re 15 no one knows who started walking first! I’m so thankful for your blog.

    • avatar janet says:

      Suzan, thanks!

      It’s easy to get caught up with comparing your own child with what other kids are doing but really, when they’re 15 no one knows who started walking first!

      So true! Two of my three children walked at 15 1/2 months and both were also very early self-taught readers, and later, soccer players. Only our children know what they need to work on in these first years.

  5. When I read the title of the post, I though the explanation was going to be more along the lines of “it’s unnatural strain on their developing spine” or something like that.

    I admit, I’ve walked our little one around from time to time, but not a lot because I assume that excessive walking is probably not a good idea.

    This is basically your first point of 9. The rest seem a little bit of a stretch to me (due respect and all).

    For example, thwarting independent play? By that logic, wouldn’t any interaction be thwarting independent play? Or back pain? This hasn’t been an issue.

    You have given me some food for though though and I appreciate your perspective.

    Maybe the take-away for me is not so much to NEVER walk our baby, but maybe to do it only in the context of play and not try to train him to walk this way.

    Thanks for the post!

    • avatar janet says:

      Samantha, I really appreciate you sharing your impressions about the post. Walking babies is a widely acceptable thing to do (as I noted when I went to search for a photo of a “baby walking” and the majority of the photos were parents walking babies, many of them as young as 3 or 4 months of age). And, no, there is no scientific evidence that it causes physical problems that I know of, and I believe that is a testament to the adaptability of the body.

      I agree with you that any interaction with childen where the parent is active and the child is more passive can thwart independent play. The child desires to continue to engage with the parent in the manner they are used to engaging. Wanting to walk with mommy or daddy can become a big distraction for a baby, making independent play more difficult.

      I’m so glad you don’t have back pain!

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  6. avatar Karen says:

    Hi Janet. Love the article. I am just wondering if this also applies to children with special needs such as low vision that may be impacting on their motor development. I am not referring just to walking with them but also assisting with crawling and sitting.

    • avatar janet says:

      Hi Karen! With issues like low vision, I would imagine it is even more important to be patient and allow the child to find balance independently — to trust the child and his body. Magda Gerber began her work in the United States with infants and toddlers with special needs. She believed that they benefited from opportunities to experience mastery and sense parental acceptance just as typical children do.

    • avatar Barbara @therextras PT says:

      If a baby has a development altering diagnosis, follow the advice of therapists.

    • avatar Karin says:

      Was directed here by a fb share. I feel so very strongly about allowing our children to tell us when they are ready. So much so that when I had a child who expereinced a stroke in infancy and became total care, I became even more staunch. We had some wonderful practitioners (PT, OT, SLP) who respected the child and the process of learning as well. Because I allowed her to fall, I allowed her to get herself into and out of position, we provided plenty of opportunities where small victories were celebrated and she was allowed to tell us when she was ready and what she needed, she became self-ambulating. When we were given the prognosis that she would never make purposeful movement, we were devastated, but she was tenacious. She is so motivated and determined to do things. All we had to do was get out of her way and allow her the opportunity to do things. She is my hero and she can do so much all on her own. I think our “interactive neglect” was a big part of that. There is a phrase in the disability community that sums it up, and it is called “learned helplessness”. When the body is not allowed to learn proprioceptively, where it is in space how it needs to motor plan, it cannot figure out where it needs to go. That takes time, and for some children, it takes even more time. :-) And it is worth it.

      • avatar janet says:

        Karin, YES!!! You are wonderful! It warms my heart to heart to hear about your work. Thank you for sharing!

  7. avatar Briana Weber says:

    Thank you Janet for this wonderful tool! As an infant teacher I have this conversation with the parents I work with quite often (or similar conversations in regards to their child’s movement) and the way you lay it out here really makes it simple to understand with out hurting feelings or making parents feel like they are doing wrong. Just that there is a better way!
    My 5 boys that I work with at school have been able to navigate cement stairs independently as soon as they were able to crawl, because I gave them the freedom to figure it out for themselves. Yes, there were a few bumps, and I found the hardest part for me was talking to the parents about why these little bumps are so important, and why stepping back (a safe distance) was so important for them!
    Thanks again!

  8. avatar Colleen says:

    I would also like to add that babies who are walked tend to throw their arms up when they start to fall instead of putting their arms in front of them to catch their fall. This is because they have gotten used to the fact that a parents will pull up their arms when they start to loose their balance. If we don’t allow them to walk and fall in the way that is most natural to them, it could be very dangerous. Learning to fall safely is just as important as learning to walk.

    This fact was shared at a Pikler Intensive training a year or so ago by a movement expert, who was a Pikler baby herself. It is also addressed in Ruth Anne Hammond’s RIE book.

  9. avatar Mark Shefsiek says:

    This is how it is done. Watch the skill of this baby’s mothers hands.

    Check out this video on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yp_YH3rZFw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • avatar janet says:

      Oh, I know this mom. She’s in one of my classes now…

  10. avatar Shirley says:

    I’m an Occupational Therapist and I would advise to parents of normally developing babies not to force babies to walk before they have had a solid chance to crawl (especially if the babies legs muscles aren’t ready to support them or if their balance is not steady.) Babies will eventually walk. It’s inevitable. We can not ignore the benefits to crawling. It helps develop hand and shoulders to prepare for dexterity, hand strength and fine motor skills. The children that I see who display poor penmanship or hand weakness or poor upper body strength did not crawl for a long time or completely skipped it (some babies scoot on their bottom instead of crawling).
    We don’t force out babies to eat solids before they have had milk, so we can’t force our babies to walk before they have had the opportunity to crawl.

    • I can’t agree more. It becomes hard for babies who do not crowl to maintain a grip in order to work independenlty and seeking support from the surroundings.

  11. avatar Shirley says:

    There’s your 10th reason

  12. avatar Amberly Dhakal says:

    Thanks! When my now 5 yr old was a baby, she started crawling up stairs at about 7 months, walked unnasisted at 9 months, and walked up stairs at 10 months. I never helped her, and she just learned it all on her own. I want to reply to Shirly though, My baby never actually crawled, just went straight from sitting at 6 months, to standing at 7 months, to walking holding onto things at 7 1/2 months to plain walking at 9 months, never crawled, (except for up the stairs) So, it is not all that important, the baby will do what is best for them, so pretty much would be said is just let them move and learn they way they want and need to because not every baby develops at the same rate. I have a 2 month old now and I hope he does not develop that quickly, I want him to stay a baby forever, lol

  13. avatar Ali says:

    While all of these reasons make sense, I wonder why it seems so natural and instinctive to want to “help” or play with my baby in this way? Especially since it seems to cause my baby such joy? Wouldn’t it make sense for a parent to be hard wired to play with a baby in the most beneficial way possible? There are so many examples of how we instinctively react to our babies. Why, in this instance, should our instincts lead us astray?

    • avatar janet says:

      Ali, good point, but our instincts do often lead us astray… Parents lash out at children instinctively. Our instincts might tell us to fix every problem for our children, preventing them from facing healthy, age-appropriate challenges. Many of our instincts are positive and worth listening to, but many aren’t our best practices or responses, in my opinion.

      • avatar Maria says:

        I disagree. But not everything we feel impelled to do is instinctive, either, some of it is learnt behavior. I see a lot of parents lash out much more than is necesssary and much more than is done by tribal people. My instinct is not telling me to fix my child’s every problem at all!

  14. avatar Amy says:

    My FIL took great joy in doing this with baby #1 (who was a slow developer). I wonder how I can dissuade him from doing this with upcoming baby #2, without hurting his feelings? He’s dyslexic, so I can’t have him read this article, and he’s very sensitive to criticism…

    • avatar janet says:

      Amy, that’s a tough one, but if you wanted to let that one slide…your baby is capable of understanding that standing and walking is something that only grandpa does. Babies are very aware of the variations in care between mom and dad, caregiver, etc. If he asked you to walk him, you could just acknowledge, “Are you asking me to hold your hands and pull you up? I know grandpa does that, but I’m going to let you do that when you are ready.”

      • avatar Diana Monroy says:

        My granson is going to be 4 months 11/25/13,&I got a video where they have him standing but he was crying a lot,I wonder if the reason is because he was uncomfortable &/or in pain,is it ok to make babies stand up at this age?? I need some advice please,thank you.

        • avatar Diana Monroy says:

          Hi Janet I will like some advice to tell my grandson mom about making the baby stand up when he’s only going to be 4 months old on 11/25/13 but to me it was disturbing to hear him cry a lot because I feel he was so uncomfortable &/or in pain,I think his bones are not ready for that yet,I had 3 kids and don’t think this is correct please I need some help to know what to do thank you.

  15. avatar Tanya says:

    I love your perspective about letting babies explore and develop their physical abilities at their own pace. For the most part, my son (18-months) rolled over, sat up, crawled and walked when he was ready, although I had to learn to hold back, give him space and let him work through some frustration (very challenging!). He never asked to “be walked” and we never “walked him”. He loves climbing and we have mostly encouraged him to climb up and down things on his own. I usually put things away if they require extra help or supervision. Lately though, he wants to hold my hand a lot – sometimes when we’re on a walk outside, sometimes when walking through the forest on difficult terrain, for climbing odd structures outside and especially when going up or downstairs. And I love holding his hand, especially when on a leisurely walk together! However, on difficult terrain and when walking up or downstairs, I would much rather he have the opportunity to learn his own sense of balance and how to fall safely on his own. If no one is right there, he will easily go up or downstairs on his own either crawling or using a handrail. When he does ask for my hand, I sometimes take his hand and go with what he seems to want at that moment, sometimes I encourage him to do it himself and he’s happy to do so, and sometimes when I try to encourage him he gets upset and continues to request my help rather urgently. In this latter scenario I do help him – it’s still challenging for me to let him get upset or frustrated. Sometimes I wonder if I’m confusing him by not being consistent. I do want to encourage his sense of his own physicality and I also want to trust that he knows when he does and doesn’t want to go it alone; I want him to know I’m there for him. Thoughts? I know I’m getting into the minutia of things here, but this blog seems to be a good place to explore the details! Also, I love your videos – I would love to see some videos of some frustrated babies – babies frustrated with movement, toys, each other. Thanks again for your work!

    • avatar janet says:

      Hi Tanya,
      Thank you for your kind words… I’m so glad you want to explore “details” here. YES, this is the place! It sounds like you have a very healthy approach to your son’s motor development. To continue what you are doing (ensuring your son continues to develop a sure sense of himself physically and excellent balance) I would give him the option, “You can go down yourself while I spot you, or be carried.” I wouldn’t give him the hand-holding option unless it is on level ground. This would be the most prudent approach, but as you say, it is a minor detail. I wouldn’t encourage him to try on his own…because that can be perceived as pressure or create an unnecessary power struggle. And sometimes you will not have the time to let him try it on his own. Make these decisions and offer these choices with confidence! This is great parenting in my book.

  16. avatar Leslie says:

    Hello,
    I’m from Mexico and I apologize for my broken english.
    I have always suspect I was doing wrong by walking my baby. He is 8 months now and I’ve been doing it for almost three months. After reading this article I’m done with that but he is already disturbed and as soon as he is free to crawl he goes to the wall and holds on to it trying to stand up. but he let go of both hands and he hists his face on the wall. that breaks my hearth! The same happens when he crawls on the floor cause he hist his face against the it sometimes… How can I help him without interfering with his natural development?Should I let him crash the floor or the wall? Cannot afford to carpet the floor :C or ask for someone to build wooden fence. Also he likes to get to the border of the bed and try to grab something on the floor so i just hold his leg and let him try.Hes kinda suspended btween the bed and the floor.Isn’t it wrong to fake him and trick his sense of gravity?

    • avatar janet says:

      Hi Leslie,
      I would refrain from enabling him to be in positions he cannot achieve or sustain himself…like dangling him from the bed. That is giving him a false sense of ability, gravity and balance.

      I recommend allowing him to continue going to the wall and pulling himself up. Just be there to cushion his fall (but still let him fall), or place your hand on the wall so that he doesn’t hurt himself when he bumps it. Intervene the least amount possible so that he can better gauge where the wall is and practice bumping against it more gently (or not at all), as he wishes.

      Mostly, don’t worry, this is a temporary phase. Ideally, you can support him to pass through this stage with more trust in himself and a better awareness of his body.

  17. avatar Eva Scherb says:

    Hi Janet

    I enjoyed your article. Emmy Pikler was my aunt, and I was brought up on this philosophy. My favorite part of it is the delight of the baby when he or she accomplishes something without any help.

    • avatar janet says:

      Hi Eva,
      Wow, how exciting! Good to hear from you. That is my favorite part, too, allowing babies to fully own their achievements.

  18. I love this post, especially when you discuss how we are always trying to “rush” everything,,,dating, engagement, marriage, children….
    This perspective is so much part of our lives, it is so difficult to slow down and let things just happen in a timely manner.
    I am a grandmother….so it seems easier at this time in my life to savor the moments and to slow down especially in respect to my grandchild. It has been a learning experience.

  19. avatar Jay L. says:

    “9 reasons not to over-think every little thing you do with your baby”

    • avatar janet says:

      Jay, your comment made me smile. Some of us have found that parenting is much more enjoyable, interesting, exciting and successful when we put a little thought into what we do. This is not to say that “because I feel like it” parenting can’t work fine, too. Each to his own, for sure!

  20. avatar Drew says:

    Hi Janet,
    I highly recommend The Prague School of rehab if you are interested in motor development, stages and what you can do to help babies and adults alike. PAval Kolar is an absolute genius. Here is the website: http://www.rehabps.com/REHABILITATION/Home.html

    • avatar janet says:

      Drew, with all respect, I have absolutely no interest in “helping” babies do something that is totally natural and organic. You seem to misunderstand the point of this post. Our babies are much better off without our interference in their motor skill development.

  21. avatar Angela says:

    So I had read about this philosophy- and the ideas behind nixing tummy time. But then my son lagged on gross motor and had a delay in this and fine motor. The pt showed me how to facilitate him rolling as he’s not yet done this. So how do I balance physical therapy with the idea of letting my child develop strength on his own?

    And unrelated- would you say that “sitting up” includes the baby sitting on your lap facing any way? Or does it just refer to a bumbo, etc. and would standing in your lap be the same way? If so, how does one then hold their baby who wants to look around?

    • avatar janet says:

      Angela, how old is your son? I am not sure what you mean by “lagged on gross motor”…

      “Sitting up” includes holding babies in a seated position on our laps, but that is not as detrimental to natural development as sitting the baby on the floor or in an infant seat. Most parents hold babies sitting up in their laps, although they can see everything just as well if held in a reclining position in the parent’s arms. They see the exact same amount, but at a different angle. When babies are in the habit of sitting on the parent’s lap, they usually won’t accept the reclining position unless they are nursing.

      I do not recommend standing a baby in your lap. That creates a habit that the baby wants to continue (like sitting) and it is not an autonomous or beneficial position.

  22. avatar Angela says:

    He is 4 1/2 months. ( but was a month early) He didn’t hold his head up until 3 1/2 months- which
    qualified him for EI – Along with low tone I guess. He doesn’t really do much with his arms yet, or grasp toys. I can see the theory behind not standing a baby in one’s lap. We aren’t going to use bumbos or activity walker thingies. Not going to “walk” him around. But would you say that standing in the lap leads to bouncing in the lap, which isn’t developmental? So you’d say keep the baby reclined in arms and do all face to face and talking to baby in this position (when in arms)?

  23. avatar Lexy says:

    Hi Janet. Very interesting article. I am trying to do a little more research on this topic but am having trouble finding any info. Do you have any references of studies that support these ideas?Thanks so much in advance :)

  24. avatar Fay says:

    I have already started holding hands with my 1 year old for a while now how do I break this habit or am I to late? Any advice greatly appreciated.

  25. avatar Nadia says:

    Hi Janet!

    My son just turned one a week ago, and has started taking a couple of tentative steps here and there. If I am sitting somewhere he would pull himself up and then use my finger to move around. Sometimes I would say “let’s go in the other room” and at first he would crawl behind me, or next to me but then as he started pulling himself up, he would hold on to my pants, and I would offer him my finger instead. Is that the same as walking him? I mean he’s walking on his own, he just uses my hand for security,

  26. avatar jen says:

    I disagree and am a negative commenter lol. I actually felt a tad bit of anger develop upon reading this article. I was looking up ways to keep up with my walking 9 month child and properly foster her development for what’s next when I stumbled on this article. All I got out of it was I’m a bad parent for helping her achieve her goals. I disagree that helping a child learn has negative effects on their development. If anything an adult has to be more understanding and open to the idea of helping their child instead of sticking them in a room and hoping they figure out complex ideas on their own. If a child wants help learning, I say teach them! When they are ready, and only when they know they are ready, they will come to you for support our a hand to guide them. Maybe I’m an exception to this research simply because my daughter has an “I can do it myself”attitude but if they grab your hands to walk, they are telling you they trust you and are ready to learn.

    • avatar Maria says:

      I agree. If child wants help, help it. If not, don’t.:)

  27. avatar MRose says:

    MY SISTER WHO WALK MY SON COMPLAIN OF BACKACHE LOL” IF A CHILD TRUST YOU FOR HELP YOU CAN OFFER BUT THERE SHOULD BE LIMIT TO IT.

  28. avatar Tommye says:

    Janet,you wrote & organized this piece so well.

    I’ve always said, in describing my book, “Teaching Me to Run,” (the story of how & why I taught my stroke-paralyzed body to run & how much damn fun it is), “it looks at movement & getting to running the way we all did when we were 18 months old, only I had language!”

    I only hope you can imagine how validated I was feeling while reading your blog post.

    thank you.

  29. avatar Kathy Fraser says:

    I was led here from a FB share, too, and the information echoes much of what I have learned through the study of infant reflexes and neurological development. The work of Sally Goddard and Peter Blythe has informed other schools of study in how skipped chapters of patterned motor skills will affect later physical, emotional and academic life. Helping your child to walk sooner than they would do so without assistance isn’t “bad parenting”, but it may short-cut critical crawling time. To an eager parent, that may seem irrelevant, but it’s been established for several decades that the natural evolution of that left-right, cross-lateral movement is the foundation for reading and writing skills as well as a host of other abilities.

    Many OTs are now including screening for retained reflexes when children are referred for ADD, dyslexia, autism, etc. The way childhood has changed over the last several decades is affecting the way our brains develop, and not for the better. I strongly recommend anyone curious or skeptical about this subject to look at the work out of the Institute for Neurophysiological Psychology in Chester, England. It’s fascinating!

  30. avatar wahyu says:

    Dear Janet,

    our little daughter is nearly 11 months old, she was a preemie. She can’t sit, stand, or crawl by herself. we made the mistake to sit her up at the age of 8 months. what should we do know, now that she developed the habit of being sit up all the time. her verbal skills are more advanced than her motoric skills.

  31. avatar Jenni says:

    As a physical therapist I never walked any of my kids. That’s a skill they NEED to learn on their own at their own pace. Does it seem natural to stand and walk with someone holding your hands above your head. Besides, walking them doesn’t teach them to walk . They can only learn that motor skill on their own. As a side note. Why are we so anxious for our babies to walk ???? Life gets a million times more difficult after that first step!!

  32. avatar Nora says:

    Its a joke, I mean whats next? Feeding your baby is bad because it will affect them mentally in their teens years? Mothers have been encouraging their babies to walk for thousands of years! Just let it be. Go find a cure for cancer or something useful :)

    • avatar Molly says:

      Hear! hear! and the whole crawling issue is a very Western-centric notion … which, BTW has been debunked.

    • avatar Silvina says:

      Maybe if you could see how good this is for your children, you would think differently. I lived the Pikler’s experience with my third daughter and she developed some very positive attitudes to her adult life: will to do, independence, self-confidence … and doesn’t need my approval to achieve it. For her with herself is enough. But it’s up to you ;)

  33. avatar Grace says:

    I understand what you are saying and there must be some parents out there who are overly eager to get their babies walking just to show off. But over thinking this move and stressing out those parents who were just giving an helping hand isn’t helpful either. To me the happiness and health of my daughter is more important than whether anything I do is following a book or an expert’s advise. Because like many would say if you spend a lot of time with your baby and love them, you will find a way to best help your baby grow as a parent. There is no absolute right or right decision on this subject matter for every single baby, as long as we are not over doing it – be it walking or not walking with our babies.

  34. avatar Kayla says:

    I disagree. As much as I do though, maybe I understood wrong? Are you saying we can’t play with our children by potentially giving them the interest in discovering how to walk on their own? Or simply not to make it an everyday task to where you are making them feel that holding your hands is the only way to navigate? Should we force a child to walk? Absolutely not. Should we assist them in finding their own balance as well as bonding with ? Or simply playing while possibly showing them the potential of movements they are capable of? I, as a mother of a 5 year old who has excelled in every area of development despite my walking him as a baby, do not see anything wrong. Forgive me if I misunderstood your point. But like you said, to each his own.

  35. avatar Megan says:

    Oh no! What have I started?! I am suffering from every single consequence listed. My 9 month old demands to be walked all day, doesn’t have any transitional movements, oh my back!!, and doesn’t learn by playing as much because we are too busy taking laps :( :( not to mention i cant get anything done because he requires me to fulfil his new obsession. how do I break this habit??

  36. avatar Janice says:

    My 7.5 month old is walking, on her own. We never “walked” her. She’s been a mover from the start. She loves to play on her own and seems to be happier now that she is walking. After reading your article I’m worried she is missing developmental milestones. What advice would you give parents of naturally early walkers? What can I do to make sure she is getting the developmental stimulation that she is missing by not crawling? We are tired:(. I will say she keeps us on our toes!

  37. avatar Peni says:

    Hi Janet,
    New to your blog and RIE. Thank you! It all feels right and make sense to me. I live in LA and plan to sign up for RIE classes.

    I have a couple of questions regarding my 11-month old’s development at the moment. Someone gave us a push toy. He plays with it by rolling it back and forth while sitting or kneeling. Just recently he stood up and began walking with it. Is it okay for him to walk with it since it’s something he discovered on his own or can it create confusion with his balance as with holding his hands?

    Should we teach him “butt first” when getting off the bed and couch? If not, how do we deal with that? They’re both too high for him to get down head first without falling and hurting himself. I don’t leave him unattended on them but he does try to leap off and has taken a couple of headers before I could catch him.

    Thank you for doing what you do!

  38. avatar Silvina says:

    I left my response to some comments but don’t know if it worked.
    I lived the Pikler’s experience with my third child and she developed some very positive attitudes for her adult life: will to do, independence, self-confidence, an impressive balance and body control … and doesn’t need my approval to achieve all that. She’s enough for herself.
    I’m excited to read in the comments to a family member of this great woman.
    I would have loved to learn about her work before so my other two daughters could also benefit from it.

    May I translate this article into Spanish for my blog?. I made a post about Emmi Pikler and would like to continue to spread her work.
    Thank you

  39. I made this mistake with my daughter. She had some significant health problems, perhaps that’s why I was so eager to see her move into the next developmental stage. We ended up with a little girl who demanded to be walked constantly and yet didn’t walk much on her own until much later than her brothers, preferring to drop down into a crawl rather than walk by herself for months. As a young woman, she doesn’t just walk, she runs several miles a day!

  40. avatar santana says:

    Ill be honest I was so eager for my daughter to do all of these thing and was trying to get her to sit up on her own and crawl and was doing thing that I thought would help speed up the process. Well when I finally agreed and decided to just let her do her own thing she is now doing what feels like everything! Now I want my little baby back my daughter is 9 months and she just started sitting completely on her own a couple of weeks ago. She is very vocal though lol.

  41. avatar George says:

    I followed RIE principles when my son was really little but once he started crawling he would seek out ‘walkers’, he would push anything, a box, a chair, across the room. Then one day he grabbed both my fingers and dived off my lap and walked around on them. I think he maybe disproves the idea that a baby who you don’t ‘walk’ will never ask to be. Incidentally despite following RIE principles at 5 months he started doing press ups and 2 weeks later he was crawling. i never placed him on his tummy, he rolled over himself. Now we are stuck doing laps, but it was all led by him so not sure what to do for the best.

  42. avatar saf says:

    Hi Janet, I have a question for you. my 7 and a half month old baby used to hold our hands and push himself up to standing himself and walk forward to us whole holding our hand by about 5 months old…. it wasn’t anything forced in the way of teaching him… he used to do it himself and my husband and I let him use his own strength and movements to do it… my father saw that he did that and started walking him the way you described and he would take giant steps which would lead my baby to also take giant steps and drag his toe’s. .. now if our baby holds our hands and tries to walk the way he used to he does it wrong and takes the same type of giant steps, dragging his toes tje way he does when my father walks him .. I’m so worried that he lost what he learned instinctively and ended up learning the wrong way of walking. .. Is this possible and id it something we wlmight need to correct in the future? ?… he’s been crawling since 6 months and seems to be ahead with all his other milestones. .. your help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance.

  43. avatar Audra says:

    How do walking toys fit into this concept? Are they encouraged or discouraged? My LO is not walking alone yet, but enjoys using push toys and boxes to help walk around.

  44. avatar S Taylor says:

    Hi, very interesting post which makes a lot of sense. But I am now really worried about the fact that I have been doing this with my son for the past 3 months – he is now 14 months – and has just been diagnosed with hypotonia (tests for underlying conditions underway) – we are still awaiting our first physio assessment so I have no-one to ask. He is able to sit but can’t crawl, cant otherwise move around, get to sitting, or get to standing, but can stand and “walk” if holding onto me. Have I unknowingly made his problems worse by walking him around? He LOVES walking around holding hands and gets so upset/frustrated/distressed when he is left on the floor or tummy time, and wants to move but can’t. Is there a way I can gently “wean him off” holding my hands- should I just leave him to sit there (I try distracting him with other toys but doesn’t work) and be upset? It is so hard not to walk him, but what you are saying makes a lot of sense : (

  45. avatar Meg says:

    I personally didn’t walk my little girl a lot but when she would pull up on my hands, yes I would hold her to stand and let her take some steps. But she did it all on her own. Same with sitting, they say a child who you pull up and they pull up with you are developing fine but then one who’s head still hangs back is not. My little girl was rolling over at 3 to 4 months crawling at 6months and pulling up, and took 5 steps on her own 2 days before turning 10 months old and now a week from being one she is pretty much on the run haha….also to my knowledge children who are held to much do much develope slower and my niece was counting and saying things at 15 months old but she is also autistic and autistic children are very very smart they just sometimes have a hard way of telling you or they know but don’t know what to say so they get upset. So I believe that research can stick to research and let mother’s/parents teach their kids and help them as they see fit and the parents who hold their children to much will always want to be held and will have a hard time being independent and playing with other kids cause my little one is all about some playing. I guess all in all I’m not in favor of not helping your kid sit and stand and walk…….I mean next is it going to be “let them learn to hold a spoon properly on their own” or “no worries she will wipe her own bottom, when she figures it out no need to show them…..I’m sorry I just don’t agree in the research cause yes every child is different but every parents is different and telling someone not to “walk” there kid is in a way dumb. There isn’t much more to say but I could keep going on about a kid I know who is 15 months old and is just now pulling up all because the parents held her to much and still do but I don’t know right?

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