5 Reasons Why Your Toddler Loses Balance While Walking and How You Can Help
7 mins read
Physical Development for Toddlers
Walking is a major achievement of children in the age group of 10-18 months. As your baby learns to walk, his gait will be unsteady and he’ll hold his hands in front of him for balance. He’ll also fall many times. While it’s normal to worry for your little one’s safety, remember that as much as he falls, he will get up and begin again! .
It takes time and practice for toddlers to coordinate their limbs and figure out how to balance their weight. However, if your child is falling too often, it could be could be an indicator of something more serious. Make sure you watch out for certain red flags like crossed eyes, excessive blinking, bumping into walls and other such signs to rule out any underlying problems.
5 Causes of a Toddler Losing His Balance While Walking
The following are the main causes for kids to lose balance while walking.
Ear Infections: Children with ear infections or fluid in their ears are often clumsier than others. At times, ear infections have no symptoms other than poor balance. The hearing mechanism houses canals relevant to balance, and a child with an infection is likely to have poor stability.
Vision Problems: Another reason that your toddler falls while walking could be due to problems with his eyesight. He may have difficulty determining depth. Toddlers are generally far-sighted and have trouble assessing objects that are nearby.
Growth Spurts in Toddlers: If your toddler has had a sudden growth spurt, he’ll need to locate his centre of balance. It takes a child time to coordinate all their suddenly longer limbs together. They may often trip over their own feet too, which is normal.
Tight Shoes: Children grow at a very rapid rate. Before you know it, they’ve outgrown their old clothes and shoes, and you need to get them new things. Parents may not realise it, but one reason for balancing problems in toddlers is because their shoes may be too small.
Tiredness: Maintain a log to see how often and exactly when your child is falling. If there are specific times when the balancing skill in your toddler is off, it may be because he’s exhausted and needs a nap. Like adults, children can be unsteady on their feet when exhausted.
Measures Against Toddlers Losing Balance While Walking
While it may worry you when you see your little one stumbling once in a while, there are some things you can do to ensure his safety. Here are certain measures you can try:
Buy Comfortable Footwear: Get your child footwear that fits properly. You can also let him walk barefoot inside the house. If you prefer he wears socks, get him a pair with non-slip soles.
Childproof Surroundings: Childproof your house once your toddler starts exploring. Keep the dangling wires covered and all the sharp corners guarded with corner covers. Keep all doors and drawers closed and dangerous items out of his reach. Care should be taken to childproof the stairs of your house as well.
Don’t Overreact: Even if your child falls down often, try not to overreact. Comfort him but don’t make a big deal out of it. It can instil a fear of walking in your child.
Watch: 7 Tips to Childproof Your House
Attach safety latches on all doors and cabinets to prevent your toddlers from opening them.
Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove and use the back burners, to keep them out of reach.
Deactivate electrical appliances like irons, hair-dryers and so on right after use.
Firm up furniture and anchor them in place using brackets or nails. Keep heavy things in bottom drawers to avoid them falling over the child and causing major damage.
Balance and Coordination Activities for Toddlers
Here are some fun balance and coordination activities for kids that can help them master their bodies better.
Have your toddler learn how to stand on one foot. This can be a little tricky, especially in the initial stages but once mastered, it helps boost his confidence as well. First, have him place one foot on the ground, while the other foot can be placed on a slightly tall stool. Once he is able to keep his balance with this exercise, replace the stool with a ball. Ensure that you do this activity with both legs.
If ‘Simon Says’, then your toddler will have to listen - or face the dreaded tickle monster! Provide him instructions like ‘Hop from foot to foot’, ‘Touch your nose while standing on one foot’, all of which help him learn how to balance, while also teaching him coordination by obeying two instructions simultaneously.
Get a large, light ball that your toddler can learn to kick, throw, and chase around. Practising kicking can help your child learn how to maintain balance while shifting his weight from one leg to another.
Arrange a fun and safe obstacle course inside the house or outdoors in an open space. Staircases, spaces to crawl through, stepping stones, large pillows and bean bags make for fun obstacles that your little one has to climb up and down on.
Play a classic game of Hopscotch, that will have your baby learning how to hop on one foot and maintain balance while doing so.
Toddlers can often lose balance due to the fact that their vision is still developing. Let them practice drawing and colouring, tracing lines, shape outlines, and use a lot of lateral strokes while they are at it. Apart from improving hand-eye coordination, it also helps them focus and develop his left-to-right tracking, which is a required skill when he learns to read as well.
When to See a Doctor
Certain children are a little more active and impulsive, and often bump and stumble and trip through their walking days! As much as its normal for toddlers to be clumsy, it would be prudent to keep a close eye on their temperament and movements if it keeps occurring a bit too frequently. Visit the doctor if you suspect that the following could be the reasons:
Poor vision or difficulty with the perception of depth can be one of the reasons why your child is unable to maintain his balance while walking. If you see that your child is squinting and tilting his head to try and see something clearly, sitting too close to the television, blinks frequently, or has crossed eyes, visit the paediatrician for further review.
Another culprit for your toddler’s clumsiness can be that his feet. Toeing-in or flat feet can cause your child to fall down more often. This orthopaedic cause usually does resolve itself by the age of 3, but plan a doctor’s visit to be on the safe side.
If you see that your child’s coordination levels in a particular area seem to be deteriorating, it could signify a problem with his fine motor skills. This is a more serious developmental disorder, clinically termed as dyspraxia. If your paediatrician suspects that this could be the case with your child, he will refer him to specialists.
Remember that as much as you may protect your child, bruises and scrapes are a normal part of growing up. Balancing skills take time to develop as well. Pretty soon, most toddlers find their sense of balance, and it’s not long before they can run and jump. Does your tot wobble? What measures do you take to ensure his safety?