Does Your Child Walk Backwards? Here's What It Could Mean
6 mins read
Physical Development for Toddlers
Some parents may get a little concerned when they see their toddlers walking backwards. But, there's actually no cause for worry as it's a very healthy, and even fun, activity for most children. Take your child out to the garden and let her practice backwards walking to her heart's content.
Does Your Child Walk Backwards? Here's What It Could Mean
Walking is a critical, complicated process and is a major milestone for a toddler. Some children even give the crawling stage a complete miss and start walking after learning how to stand. If your child walks later than other children, it doesn’t mean that she’s any less intelligent or capable. Children develop differently and reach different milestones at different ages. But seeing your baby walking backwards; that’s whole different ballgame.
When Do Babies Walk Backwards?
Some children start walking as early as 9 months while others can take up to 18 months. Around the age of 9 to 12 months, some babies begin to stand up while holding onto something for support. Gradually, your toddler will be able to stand unsupported for a few seconds. From the age of 12 to 15 months, she’ll likely start walking, albeit a little awkwardly. This is a good time to get her push-and-pull toys. Around the age of 15 to 18 months, your toddler may be able to walk up and down stairs and maybe even walk backwards. Young children first learn how to walk forwards and once they start, it’s difficult to make them stop! They then figure out how to move sideways and last of all the babies walk backwards.
Watch: Teach Your Baby to Walk - Stage by Stage
Key Takeaway: The various stages of learning how to walk begins as early as four months. Right from sitting, to learning how to walk without support, the child needs constant encouragement to successfully sail through each phase.
At every stage that the child enters, provide words of encouragement and praise to build their confidence.
You can practise different games and exercises to help your child throughout the process. Turning it into a game is a fun way to help the child learn.
Every baby's learning curve is different and they are likely to enter each phase differently than their peers. While 4 months is the ideal time for some babies to start their journey, some other may take a little more time, which should be no cause for worry.
Why is Walking Backwards Important?
According to experts, back walking in young children is very important because it can protect them from falling backwards.If she falls backwards, she needs to know how to be able to take backward steps to be able to regain her balance.
Benefits of Walking Backwards
Playful and comical as it may seem when you see your baby crawling backwards, a study reviewed by Dr. Peggy Pletcher shows that it presents mental and physical health benefits that can contribute to your child’s development. It helps to challenge various muscles in their body while also helping them with their thought processes. So instead of worrying about why your child seems to be going the wrong way, have a laugh while encouraging your toddler walking backwards!
Physically, walking backwards helps to strengthen sensory abilities, by helping to rely on senses apart from sight. It also helps to develop walking technique, and improves balance and coordination. Walking backwards is an obvious change in the regular way of movement, so it actually helps to heighten the sense of body awareness. This way, thinking skills are sharpened while also increasing cognitive control. Encouraging backwards walking in children helps to attain these benefits, while also allowing kids to step out of their comfort zone and contribute to their overall confidence and development in the long run.
Baby Walking Backwards – is it a Sign of Autism?
Autism is a condition that warrants diagnosis as early as possible, and parents would do well to watch out for the red flags. Some parents may be concerned that their child exhibits a sign of autism by walking backwards. While at that, walking backwards has not been proven to be a sure-fire sign of autism and need not be a big cause of worry! Most children do tend to experiment with this activity around the age of 15-18 months. However, there are certain other signs like fixating on things, flapping arms, and a delay in developing language skills which can be common across autistic children. You can find out about similar tell-tale signs of autism here.
How Backward Walking Helps Balancing
As mentioned earlier, one of the important benefits of walking backwards is that it helps the child to improve their balance and coordination. Since your child is not seeing what is behind them, they tread more carefully with cautious steps, relying more on the information their feet provides them. This, essentially, helps the brain from recording new patterns from the new activity, and developing a natural balance while walking backwards. It also helps to improve coordination of the lower body in the long run.
How to Help Your Child Learn Backwards Walking
Here are a few ways you can help your child learn how to walk backwards.
When teaching children to walk forwards, parents hold their hands for support and encouragement. Do the same while encouraging your child to walk backwards. Gradually switch to holding just one hand till your child becomes confident enough to try walking backwards on her own.
Give your toddler some push-and-pull toys such as a pushcart, a toy vacuum cleaner, or an engine attached to a string, and encourage her to pull them while walking backwards to get them to move.
Holding your child’s hand, stand in front of a mirror and practice forward and backwards walking as fast as you can.
Encourage your child to do different activities while walking backwards. Start easy by asking her to do simple things like singing a rhyme while taking a few steps backwards. Slowly make it more challenging by asking her to walk backwards holding a glass half-filled with water.
While encouraging this habit, it’s important to make sure that before your child practices any backwards walking, the area should be free of obstacles such as toys and furniture. Children come to love backwards walking and once they get the hang of it, they do it all the time! Has your toddler begun walking backwards yet?