In this article
Toddlers Climbing up and Walking down Stairs: The MilestoneHow to Help Your Child Learn to Climb StairsWhen Should You Be Worried?
Toddlers generally tend to give one foot preference over the other, whether while walking or climbing, to maintain their balance. This is quite normal and not a cause for concern. As a parent, you can help your child learn to climb stairs better, and know when to seek help.
Toddlers Climbing up and Walking down Stairs: The Milestone
When it comes to manoeuvring stairs, toddlers start by crawling up and down them around the age of 10-18 months. At 18-20 months, some toddlers start walking up stairs using a railing or an adult’s hand for additional support. At this stage, they use a step-to pattern in which they place both feet on each step. By the age of 2 years, children start to walk up stairs more confidently, putting both feet on each step and using no railing support. When your child is at least 3 years, he should be able to walk down stairs using a reciprocal pattern and without the support of a railing. For a toddler, it’s much easier to walk up stairs, rather than down, which is why they learn climbing up first.
How to Help Your Child Learn to Climb Stairs
- Initially, when starting to learn how to climb stairs, your toddler will want to hold onto you or the railing with both hands for support. He might keep one hand on the railing and one on the wall for support too. If you want your child to hold only the railing with just one hand, give him a stuffed animal or toy to hold in the other.
- If your toddler is walking up stairs with only one foot and keeping the other on the same step, try placing a sticker on the shoe of the non-preferred foot. When it’s time to use that leg to move forward, remind your child to use the ‘sticker foot’.
- Another way to help your child climb stairs using both feet is by placing alternate rubber footprints on each step and encouraging him to place the matching foot on each footprint. This can turn into a fun game for him.
When Should You Be Worried?
Children who are weak or have poor muscle strength in their legs often avoid the stairs. They put pressure on their arms to pull themselves up with the help of the railing and don’t use alternate feet while going up or coming down. If after the age of 3 and a half years, your child still can’t climb stairs by alternating his feet, you should speak to his paediatrician.
If your toddler is climbing and walking down step-by-step and not alternating his feet, try not to worry too much unless you notice other signs of weakness. This is perfectly normal and all children learn how to negotiate steps like this.
Has your child begun navigating the stairs yet? How do you help him?