12 answers

Helping Baby Walk Alone

Hi moms,

I currently have a 13 month old son who took his first steps about 1 month ago. since then he will take 2-3 steps daily but would much rather walk holding our hands. in fact at this point he will find our fingers and scream until we walk him no matter what we are doing, ie going to the bathroom etc. he used to be very independent and now he doesn't want to go anywhere without our fingers. this is also the first time he throws something like a tantrum when he doesn't get his way. my question is this, should we just cold turkey the fingers and let him scream for a few days or embrace this as a stage where we are helping him feel safe and secure in his new upright position and just go with the flow. the finger walking has been going on for about 3 months now and out backs are really starting to feel it! so hard to know how to balance helping him learn versus becoming a crutch.

thanks for you advice!

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I haven't read the other responses but here's an idea. My little guys loved pushing things around with wheels on them, like little doll strollers (although maybe something neutral for a boy). There are toys like that that are for pushing, and it gives them something to hold on to, you know like old ladies who use a shopping cart at the store instead of their walkers.

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My now-17-month old did the same "need your fingers" thing for six months. She (like her older sister) didn't feel a need to walk independently until she was 15 months old. Now there's no stopping her. :)

The screaming thing is another issue entirely, and the "don't give in" suggestions are good ones. If your boy *really* wants to walk, he'll do it in his own time. Get that walking toy and show him how to use it... but don't cut out the hands entirely, as that's good bonding/sharing time. It's a balancing act, like all of parenting.

And for another perspective... it won't be very long before your boy won't want to hold your hand at all, so do take some time to cherish this while it lasts!

1 mom found this helpful

My son took his first steps when he was 13 months old too (he's now 4). I remember feeling the back pain from bending over. Looking back, I'm glad I did it. When the pain go too unbearable, I used to grab a mixing spoon or something else that we could both hang onto that would allow me to stand upright. I knew it would not last for too long. One day, my mother said to me, "how long has he been running for?". My thought was somethign like...."wasn't he born running?" He had started walking on his own and running without me even really realizing it because it happened so fast. I would take the time and treasure the time when he still wants and needs your help. Gently encourage him to try it on his own so he doesn't become dependent, but I don't see the harm in humoring him.

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I like what Melissa B said about 'weaning' him off. I would nip in the bud the screaming thing. Do not just drop what you are doing every time he thinks he needs you, he just wants you. Ignore the screams as much as possible. If you jump every time he screams, he is training you to jump and you are training him to scream by rewarding the screams with attention. Encourage, and train him to get your attention in an appropriate manner. Save the screams for emergencies, help him to understand the difference.

As far as walking, try holding just one hand while you walk next to him so that you are walking side by side with one hand free, like with hubby. Then, when he is more comfortable, he can walk on his own. Don't let him be the boss and command you by screaming, walk away if he screams and is not in pain. Explain that Mommy can't help him when he screams. What I am saying is, try to get him to calm down by talking to him, then, if he does not calm down, walk away. It might make him scream louder at first, but be patient, he will learn that that is not how to get your attention.

1 mom found this helpful

A., Don't mean to rain on your parade but my daughter started walking early and insisted on holding onto us until she was almost two. Eventually I discovered that a pair of painter pants where she could hold onto the loops helped. In our case she just needed emotional support not physical in the later months. Even after she stopped holding on to us, she used the furniture and even walls for security. I don't feel that three months is too long at all, your son has discovered that he can get places much faster with you and he has a whole world to explore. Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried a walking toy? One that he can push. We went through this with #2. He wanted to walk but wasn't yet "comfortable" going at it alone. Nothing seemed to help except us walking with him.

At the advice of my ped. I caved and got this super cute lion toy from Fisher Price that converted from a scoot toy, to a push toy and of course made music. We also wound up getting a lawn mower one for the older child. It not only helped with him becoming confident as a walker but also really helped him progress into running a lot faster. And the moment he saw the toy and what he could do with it, he was off.

We are going throught the *exact* same thing with my daughter. I look forward to responses!

I haven't read the other responses but here's an idea. My little guys loved pushing things around with wheels on them, like little doll strollers (although maybe something neutral for a boy). There are toys like that that are for pushing, and it gives them something to hold on to, you know like old ladies who use a shopping cart at the store instead of their walkers.


Welcome to rubber-band baby hood. Kids will go out and explore new things, but inevitably will snap back to Mom and Dad's legs like a rubber band.

My son is 4 1/2 and my daughter is 16 months. Both walked independently before their first birthday. I feel your pain, literally. :) There are a couple of things that you can to to help all of you.

1) Start walking with him holding on to both fingers, then gradually pull one finger out of his grasp so he's only holding one. This worked with both my kids when Dad would walk with them (Dad is over 6 feet tall).

2) Sit on the floor opposite your hubby with your feet touching and have your son walk back and forth between you two. My daughter loved this, especially towards me. She's such a Mommy's Girl.

Your son has learned a new skill, and wants the reassurances of Mom and Dad that his world is still on an even keel. Kids do this often. I forget the real name of it, but it's just like a rubber band or a bungee cord. They go out and out and out to explore, then they snap back to you as parents and stick close by for a while, then repeat cycle.

Congrats on your walker, he'll be running before you know it!


Our son did the same thing from the time he was 8 months old. We let him use our fingers and he even learned to crawl just so he could get to our fingers! Although it didn't seem like it at the time, his balance progressed really quickly and slowly but surely he got the confidence to take off. He is now 11 months and can pull himself up on about anything and will walk independently across the room. One thing that we did at about 10 months was sit about 2-3 feet apart and have him walk (or usually stumble like a drunken sailor!) between us. I think it helped him to see that he could do it but we would still be there to catch him.

Our 14 month old has only recently started walking, and still holds our hands a lot, but one thing I'm finding is to clap and cheer and smile whenever he does walk by himself. This has worked well with other physical activities, and seems to be helping with the walking... he'll stand up, smile, and start to take steps toward us. Maybe (along with some of the other advice on here), make sure you are giving him lots of positive reinforcement whenever he does take steps on his own?

lots of good ideas! as far as the screaming thing - it sounds like maybe he has learned to scream because you haven't responded to his quieter requests for help? so I'd make sure to respond before the screams come. it would probably help to decide what you're willing to do and be fairly consistent about it. my son held my hand for three months before taking off on his own, but I assumed it was because we lived with a dog and a bigger kid who knocked him over - is there anything like that going on? otherwise, I really like your idea of embracing this as a special stage and going with the flow! before you know it he'll be running!

When my girl was little she didn't walk until she was 15 months. Some babys just don't want to walk.
Have you tried something else instead of your finger? Like a toy. If you hold on to one side of the toy and he on the other. Then just let go and see if he well walk. I hope you can find something that well work.

A. M.

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