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My Toddler Refuses To Walk. What Can I Do?

4 min read

Walking is one of the most important milestone for a baby. Your child would have most likely taken the first steps between the ninth and fifteenth month. Once your child passes this big milestone, your next major challenge is to get your kid to walk. Many toddlers, despite having mastered the art of walking, running and jumping, still prefer to be carried around by their parents. Sounds familiar and frustrating? Well, it is. Read on.
toddler refuses to walk

  • Why Do Toddlers Refuse To Walk?
  • How Can Toddlers Be Encouraged To Walk More Often?

Why Do Toddlers Refuse To Walk?

Once a child learns how to walk, most parents want to enjoy it. But the struggle starts when all of a sudden your child refuses to walk when you want him to, though he would circle around you a dozen times a day. While you might think your child is just being lazy or defiant, this might not be true. Broadly, toddlers refuse to walk because:

  1. They want to be with you: Toddlers, although small, are quite manipulative. They know that one way they can assure that moms stay closer to them is by insisting that they are carried around. That way moms can’t slip to kitchen or work without them taking notice
  2. They can’t keep up with you: It is difficult to gauge a toddlers’ pace. At one moment, they are running ahead and at the next moment, they are trailing behind. Most often, especially when you are outside with your child, he/she finds it difficult to keep up with your pace. This could be a reason why they prefer being carried
  3. They want to imitate: They see that that other children’s moms carry their wards. They can clearly see how cozy and cuddly their peers look when the moms are carrying them. And they want the same
  4. They find it more comforting: When a child is being carried, he feels warm and cozy and also rests his tired legs. Plus he can feel safe, hear you talk and vouch for your full attention
  5. They want better view: Squat down to your child’s level and you would see that they have quite a limited view of the world. When you lift them up, their view expands! They also feel safer in your arms, while watching strange faces and passing cars

In some rare cases, your child might be developmentally incapable of walking. If you suspect any physical reasons for their reluctance to walk, please talk to your child’s pediatrician. As you can see a toddler has to give up on a lot when he walks, so you have to make walking interesting and enjoyable for him. Once you rule out any physical problems, the following tips might be able to help.
Toddler not walking

How Can Toddlers Be Encouraged To Walk More Often?

Clearly, your toddler’s insistence on being carried around can be both frustrating and tiring. Frustrating, because you cannot get much done with the child on your hips. Tiring, because, well your toddler is bigger and heavier now! Here are few tips you can try to encourage your child to walk:

  • Win some, lose some: The first step is to break the “carrying around” pattern. If your child insists on being carried, tell her you will carry her till the tree ahead. Then she has to walk till the next tree, after which you will carry her again till the next tree. You can switch the “trees”
    with lamp posts, gates or even a certain number of shops (if you are in a mall, for instance)
  • Pram to the rescue: Sometimes you are too tired to carry her even for short distances. And you do not want to deal with tantrums in the middle of your chores. This is when prams come in handy. Your child is happy as she is getting a ride and you are happy as pushing the pram is much easier and controllable than carrying the child
  • Make it a game: Make walking enjoyable for your child. Have a walking race (“let us see who reaches that tree first”). Sing a song and match your steps to the lyrics. Or pretend to be marching. If it is fun, your child will enjoy it
  • Consistent behavior: Make sure that none of the other care takers of your child – nanny, maid, grandparents or your spouse – are carrying your child all the time. If your child is accustomed to being carried around in your absence, then you cannot blame her for getting used to it. Give strict instructions to everyone around
  • Ignore the acting out: If your child falls on the ground and howls in the middle of the supermarket, demanding to be carried, do not give in. The moment your child realizes that tantrums give her authority, she will go on an over-drive. Calmly sit down with her and explain that you are not going to entertain her behavior and there will be consequences (e.g. we are not going to get ice cream afterwards). Then, ignore the behavior
  • Praise your child: Every time she walks on her own, or does something independently, praise her plenty. Tell her you are proud that she is becoming a big girl and doing things on her own

Are there any other tricks that you have tried? Please share with us!

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