BABY’S GREAT ADVENTURE. Baby’s ability to move and mobility development.




Toddler’s ONSDEP: Her mobility development intentions:


  • To be an excellent walker.





Toddler steps up to another new level of freedom and independence when she becomes a walker. As a walker she can enjoy travelling at greater speed and over rougher ground; whereas she was previously limited to creeping on surfaces which were less of a threat to her hands and knees than rougher ground. She is now known as a toddler. Toddlers see the world from a new perspective. Toddler’s eyes are about 700 millimetres above ground level whereas creeper’s eyes are about 250 millimetres above ground level. From her increased height toddler can now see further, and she is now acquiring the natural walking ability to quickly travel to the far off places that she can see. Her ability to explore is greater now than it has ever been before. Her vision, tactile sense, language understanding, knowledge about the world and her ability to move about give her more personal power now than she has ever had before. Toddler’s Own Magnificent Self Development and Education Program at this Level 5 is to learn to be an excellent walker and to use this exciting new skill to explore her world more thoroughly.


Soon after she takes her first steps toddler is likely to have a few falls due to her lack of stability; but she will almost certainly persevere and continue to scientifically test the environment until she gathers enough knowledge to become an excellent walker. Natural parents support toddler by providing an environment that minimises the risk of injury or other negative experiences and that maximises joyful and positive opportunities to cruise and walk. 


Excellent walking:


As toddler improves her walking, from her first faltering steps to natural excellence, you can observe the following abilities developing. When she becomes an excellent walker toddler will be able to:


  1. Walk confidently and will not need to pay any particular attention to the fact that she is walking. 


  1. Walk with her arms by her sides, close to her body, and usually will not hold her arms up or out for balance.


Her arms might also swing a little, with one arm swinging forward while the other swings back, as she walks. Walking with this swinging action is known as cross pattern walking, the excellent walker’s right arm swings forward at the same time as her left leg steps forward. Her left arm then swings forward as her right leg steps forward and so on as she walks on and the cross pattern repeats itself. As toddler (or any walking person) speeds up, the cross pattern becomes more pronounced until, when running, there is a very obvious thrusting forward and back of the arms in tune with the opposite leg. The cross pattern can be seen very easily by watching Olympic runners. It will likely be at least several months yet, though, before toddler is thrusting her arms forward while she runs. 


  1. Carry an object, using both hands to hold it, for a distance of four meters.




Natural parents create the best possible environment to help toddler to carry out her OMSDEP and become an excellent walker.


Walking surfaces:


When living in a natural environment humans can be expected to have to walk across tree roots, down into gullies, up over mounds, across grassy fields, across sandy surfaces such as beaches or deserts, through rocky streams and into slippery, sticky and muddy puddles. 


In today’s modern societies walking is generally done on dry, level and flat surfaces such as building floors and concrete pathways, and sometimes those pathways (and driveways) slope uphill or downhill. Walking also occurs up and down staircases. Depending on what their local walking environment is, children will get more or less experience walking on the types of surfaces mentioned. A toddler living in a New York City flat will probably have greater experience walking on level concrete and bitumen surfaces and regular staircases than a toddler living in a Kenyan rainforest. The child living in a rainforest will probably have much greater experience in walking over a variegated surface consisting of mud, tangled tree roots and uneven step heights than a New York child.  


Natural Parenting parents give their children walking experience over a wide range of different surfaces and slopes, so they are well prepared to walk and run under many different conditions. It is also worth noting that research clearly shows that walking (and running) naturally improves lung capacity and functioning, general physical fitness and, due to improved physiological functioning and brain growth, improved mental capability. Toddler’s desire to be an excellent walker, in all environments she might encounter, is obviously the right decision if she is to have a healthier more enriched and enjoyable life.


Natural parents provide their children with quality walking experiences in the following way:  


  • A staircase is used as if it is part of an amusement park and toddler has fun walking up and down the staircase several times each day (safely supervised of course). 


  • Toddler begins to take short daily walks on smooth flat surfaces. She soon progresses to walking on hilly terrain and then rough terrain. 


Children and Staircases:


Many children have been injured on staircases and for that reason some parents fear helping toddler to use a staircase. But it is important to consider that a toddler who is not permitted to learn to use staircases might, at some future time, use one when unsupervised. The unsupervised and inexperienced child on a staircase is considerably more likely to have an accident than an experienced child. parents help toddler to learn to use staircases safely under parental supervision, rather than avoiding the issue or putting it off until later. Learning to use a staircase safely also helps toddler to learn about safety needs in general and the skills learnt in staircase use are also helpful when walking over rough terrain. 


Children at this level should always be supervised when using a staircase. The shadowing technique can be used to ensure their safety. 



The Shadowing Technique:


When using the shadowing technique the parent is always one or two-steps below and about three hundred millimetres to the left or right side of toddler. The parent is always facing toddler and walks up or down the steps ‘shadowing’ her. This means that when toddler is going down the stairs the parent will be walking down backwards so he can face toddler. From this position the parent should be able to catch or steady toddler if she requires help. 


When using the shadowing technique a parent will always start going down steps before toddler and toddler will always start going up steps before the parent. 


It is essential that the shadowing parent keeps his or her attention on toddler at all times and watches her constantly.



Activities for parents and toddlers:


In a natural environment children do a lot of walking and running. The following walking activities provide children with the opportunity to walk as they would likely do in a natural environment. Exactly how many months parents and toddler will spend doing the walking activities at this Level depends on how quickly toddler’s walking ability develops. How quickly toddler’s walking ability develops depends primarily on how consistently she walks each day. The walking activities at this Level should take between about 9 and 18 months to complete. The natural way children learn to walk can be divided into several sequential levels as the daily walking activities below indicate. parents use part of each day to walk toddler through stair walking and each of these natural sequential walking levels by commencing at step 1 below and concluding at step IV. 



The daily walking activities program:  




Five times each day shadow toddler as she walks up and down stairs for three minutes. That is a total time of 15 minutes each day. Continue to do this every day until she can walk up and down stairs independently. 


A suitable staircase might be found in the home, an office building, shopping centre, recreational park or other places (and can be part of a daily outing).




  1. Arrange for toddler to walk on smooth, flat surfaces for short periods of time until she can walk for 30 minutes continuously (with little stopping). Then gradually increase the walking speed to cover the distance in less time. Eventually the distance will be covered in 20 minutes. 


One way to build up to 30 minutes continuous walking is to walk to the front door for a few days, then to the front gate for a few days, then to the house next door for a few days then to the next house for a week, and then a little further and a little further over about two or three months until you are walking for 30 minutes continuously every day.


Suitable smooth, flat walking surfaces include floors in houses, pathways on streets and in parks, and pedestrian malls.


  1. When she has walked for 30 minutes continuously on a smooth, flat surface (as in 1 above) then add the following walking: 


Do the same as in (1) above but on a hilly terrain.  At first add one minute of walking on hilly terrain to the 30 minutes walking on a smooth, flat surface. Then, each two or three days, walk for one minute longer on the hilly terrain until you are walking for between 50 and 60 minutes total each day. Then gradually increase the speed to cover the distance in less time. Ensure the terrain is not too difficult.  If you have done well in speeding up your walking you will now be walking not for 50 or 60 minutes but for about 40 minutes each day. 


A suitable hilly terrain can be, for example, local roads that go up, down and around small hills in suburban housing estates. Not steep, tiring, puffing hills but gentle undulating hills. Some parkland walkways made from bitumen, pavers or concrete that rise and fall in a gentle way and have few steps can also be suitable. The car driveway ramps between levels in shopping centre or other car parks can also be suitable; although possibly too steep (only suitable when not being used by cars of course).


  1. Then, in addition to walking for twenty minutes on a smooth, flat surface and twenty minutes on a hilly terrain walk on a rough terrain. Ensure the terrain is not too difficult. Each day add one minute of walking on rough terrain to your existing 40 minutes of walking until you are walking continuously (with little stopping) for 60 minutes total time. Work towards faster walking on the rough terrain but continue to walk for 60 minutes total time. That is, cover more rough terrain in  a faster time.

A recently ploughed field or rough bushland walking tracks are suitable for rough terrain walking.


  1. When walking allow toddler to run if she chooses, but discourage her from running and becoming tired. Set a steady pace to avoid her becoming tired. 


Calculating total daily walking: 


It is the total amount of walking your child does each day at a persistent steady pace that is important. If your child is a very active walker you can estimate how much walking she does at a persistent steady pace around your home, or in the garden, or on other walks throughout the day and then count that total as part of her walking activities program. Do not count slow, wandering, or less than one minute periods of walking. It is persistent, steady paced walking that counts. 


Also if, for example, you estimate that she walks up and down the stairs for a total of three minutes when you are coming and going from the house, you can count this as three minutes out of the total fifteen minutes she should spend walking up and down the stairs each day. 


Enjoyable daily walks: 


Make the walk as interesting and enjoyable as possible by going for a purpose such as collecting flowers, to follow a ball, to walk a dog, to visit grandmother, as an adventure or to play in a park. Prefer walking to going by car or other transport. For the first few months after toddler begins this Level stay close to her to help if she stumbles or falls. Do not exceed toddlers’ ability by trying to cover too much distance; do not overtire her.  Go when she has a good supply of energy and not when she is beginning to wane. Have fun!


Except for safety and occasional fun, love or social reasons avoid holding toddler’s hand when she is walking as she will use your stability as a point of balance and this will delay her ability to balance and walk and run independently. Also avoid lifting her by one arm if she needs to step up or down a gutter or curb. Toddler needs to learn the skills required to do this and does so by having the experience of doing it herself. 




Children’s knees and arms should be well protected in case of falls. Long pants and long sleeved tops (or knee and elbow pads) are usually required especially for beginning walkers.  Ensure toddler will not be overheated by excessive clothing. To protect toddler’s feet good quality running shoes should be worn.


 What toddler should be doing at this Level of development:


  • Walking.


What toddler should be doing as she enters the next Level of development:


  • Walking on smooth flat surfaces, hilly terrain, and rough terrain at a steady pace for one hour each day.



An average child is likely to move on to Level 6 at approximately age 36 months.


A child could potentially move on to Level 6 at approximately age 18 months.