Teaching Your Baby to walk and explore

  • April 26, 2018

Your baby has been walking around the house for a while and now you are eager to take him for a walk outside.

You want to show him the wonders of the beautiful world we live in.

Walking outside will be a brand new experience for your baby compared to the floors and boundaries of your home.

Outside the walls of the rooms are missing. Space is vast, and there is many more and new distraction.

Thus walking outside is a multi-faceted learning experience that you can take advantage of on a regular basis.

Babies love to go outside, so taking your toddler for a walk will bring joy to the both of you.

Take your baby on a relaxed long walk at least once a week, but of course, everyday walks are even better!

And, don’t bring the stroller!

Focus on your baby’s movements, her wonder, play and her energy level.  Make sure your baby is wearing good shoes. (I have dedicated a whole post about choosing the right shoe for your baby.)

If you notice that she is getting tired turn around in time to make it home on feet.

Instead of the stroller, bring a backpack with plenty of wipes to clean dirty hands, drinks for all and a small pail for your baby to put things in and out. 

((: And sometimes you will need to bring the current favorite toy with you as well. :))

So what could you teach your baby on these lovely walks?

Walking outside is a grand adventure for toddlers and small children. There is so much they have to learn about the outside world it takes years before taking a stroll becomes boring for them.

Walking is not just a great exercise for all ages but is an educational experience as well. It is an expedition where you can teach your baby essential life lessons.

For example:

Gross Motor Developmental skills:

  • Walking on different surfaces like cement, grass, dirt, pebbles, sand, snow or ice.
  • Walking on different inclines
  • Stepping over small obstacles like rocks, sticks or bottles.
  • Going around large obstacles like tree roots, pot-holes, street corners or fences.
  • Stepping up/down curbs, tree stumps, steps or large rocks.
  • Walking long distance
  • Bending down without falling (and in winter with heavy clothing) to pick up flowers, rocks or sticks.
  • Squatting to play with rocks, dirt or sand.
  • Stomping and splashing in water or puddles, sand or mud.
  • Carrying small and large objects like a teddy, a pale or backpack while walking.

Fine Motor Developmental skills:

  • Ripping off things like flowers, leaves, grass or fruits.
  • Picking up things like rocks, pebbles, leaves or sticks.
  • Holding several items at once like flowers, rocks or sticks in one hand.
  • Finger drawing in sand, mud or snow.
  • Making a snow or mud balls. (Rolling a snowball into a big ball for a snowman.)
  • Pointing out small details in flowers, rocks, trees or the sky.

Sensory Development:

  • The feeling of warm or cold air.
  • The feeling of wind, rain or sunshine.
  • The feeling of the water in the puddle under her boots.
  • The feeling of snow, sleet, sand, grass, flowers, cones, pebbles or mud.
  • The visual and sensory differences of fog, clear or rainy day.

Cognitive Developmental skills:

  • Stopping at the curb to see if cars are coming.
  • Exploring your and her own shadow. And the shadows of trees, cars, flowers or rocks.
  • Understanding direction and distance. Like walking towards a tree or house as destination.
  • Learning about spatial concepts like in-front, behind, far, close, right or left.

Language Developmental skills:

  • Understanding your voice of danger alert when a car is coming.
  • Vocabulary of the things she sees. Like rock, flower, grass, stick, squirrel, pine tree or pickup trucks.
  • Vocabulary of action verbs, Like blowing, honking, beeping, screeching, singing, chirping or barking.
  • Vocabulary of sensational words. Like cold air, warm wind, humid, windy or loud.

Behavior & social developmental skills:

  • Greeting or avoiding greetings of strangers on the street.
  • Asking if she can pet a dog or pick a flower.
  • No sitting in the middle of the path.
  • Keeping a safe distance from mom or dad.

So taking a walk can be very educational for your baby for the next couple of years. Especially if you eventually start walking in different environments when she gets a bit older.

The lists above dissects the learning experience your baby will have on these walks into subjects. But for her, it is a wholesome experience.

On each outing she will learn one piece of the puzzle we create for her. So her learning experience will be much more than the list implies. The list is there for us, the adults who like to know what we teach.

Walking in the quiet suburb, or a busy main street in a suburban town vs. NY city is each a lesson on its own that can be repeated for 100 times and she still will learn something new.

And there is no list I can give that will be comprehensive enough to understand the difference. Never the less it is significant.

Walking around the grandparent’s neighborhood or on the boardwalk when on vacation is yet another great experience.

So just go out one beautiful day and enjoy your baby’s learning experience.

Start with 20-minute walks and gradually increase your adventure 5 minutes at a time.

However, observe your baby closely. If she gets tired take her home despite how much time you spent outside. Tired babies fall more and get injured more easily.

Start your walking adventures close to home on the street you live. This way you can come home quickly if your baby gets tired. Also, your baby will learn her neighborhood well so she won’t get lost when she gets older.

When you start walking with your baby, let the baby dictate the speed of your walk. You determine the direction, you keep her safe, but since she is the explorer let her stop and go as she pleases.

Gently direct her around any obstacle, large or small. She does not have the attention yet to even notice them.

Don’t be strict about the direction either. Your goal on the first walks should be ground not street exploration. As long as she is safe allow her free direction changes even if she turns around every 3 steps.

On the 10th excursion, you can start insisting that she goes into one direction without turning back. Walking around a block will be a lesson on its own.

As he advances in his steadiness walking on straight surface start looking for obstacles.

The obstacles you would naturally avoid is one of the most amazing discoveries you loved as a child.

See a tree trump? Climb it!

See a log? Walk on it!

See a small whole? Step in it!

See pebbles? Walk on them!

See a large rock? Climb it!

See a flat curb? Walk on it!

See sand? Shuffle in it!

See a puddle? Stomp and dance in it!

The best approach to help your baby is to educate yourself about infant development and keep records about your baby's development.

With intention, a vision, a clear goal, patience, persistence, daily repletion, and a joyful firm belief in your baby, in yourself and the universe anything is possible!

As always, enjoy your baby and motherhood.

See your baby (babies) as a gift for you to love and cherish.


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