Two reasons why you shouldn't 'walk' your baby

It feels normal to help them on their way - but one author advises against it.

April 05 2023

While your child might enjoy the time spent walking around the house together, parenting author Janet Lansbury is a firm believer in letting your bub initiate and learn the milestone on their own.

Lansbury, an advocate and teacher of Magda Gerber’s childcare philosophy, Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE pronounced wry), explains her thoughts in a blog post.

Gerber's RIE philosophy is founded on the idea that parents have respect and trust in the baby to “be an initiator, an explorer, and a self-learner.”

Speaking to LA Parent Magazine, Gerber said: "Take the mobile off the bed, take care of their needs and leave them alone."

The case for letting children walk in their own time 

1 - Body wisdom

When it comes to milestones, only a baby knows when they are ready to take their first steps.

“By holding a baby’s hands to mobilise him, position and reposition his body, we hinder his natural ability to find balance, sense spatial relations, and judge what he can and cannot do,” she writes. “Better to trust our babies to walk when they are ready, and by doing so encourage mental and physical awareness.”

2 - Safety

In her book, Don’t stand me up, Lansbury says babies who develop on their own gain a greater sense of awareness that keeps them safe.

Lansbury writes, ”Walking babies makes them less aware — gives them a false sense of balance and of their abilities — which can be dangerous.”

The philosophy isn’t for everyone

In recent years, the RIE philosophy has been criticised for its beliefs and Lansbury’s article isn’t any different.

In the comments section, the reactions are mixed.

"This is beyond ridiculous…Mum of 3 adult boys who are very coordinated….and who were each 'walked'," one mum wrote.

On the other hand, other parents revealed the more they find out about the philosophy the more they agree with what it stands for.

Another parent added: “The more I read and learn about RIE the more it makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover it until my son was over a year old.”