When your child first learned to walk, she probably strutted around all day with a wide, swaybacked gait, her stomach jutting out in front. As she gets better at balancing, the distance between her feet will narrow, and her toes will point straight ahead instead of turning out.

If she hasn't already done so already, she'll soon start trying to do other things while she walks. By the time she's had two or three months' experience, she'll be able to:

  • Carry a toy in one arm while getting around

  • Reach above her head

  • Look up when she walks

  • Turn and squat

Getting Ready for Stairs Now that your toddler is so good at moving around, he'll be looking for challenges — such as stairs. Keep all stairs gated, but be sure to give your child some practice time, too (with you there, of course!). Climbing up is the first stage. Climbing down the stairs backward is the safest descent route; teach him how by getting him in the right position, as he might not figure it out on his own.

Sometime in the middle of his second year, he'll learn to negotiate the stairs on his feet while holding a hand and the railing. He'll take the steps one at a time, with both feet moving up to the same level before he tackles the next one. He'll need several months — maybe even a year or two — before he can climb while alternating feet, and going downstairs with alternating feet will take even longer.

FYI: Learning to walk barefoot is ideal. As your toddler learns to walk, his bare toes will grip the ground and build up his arches. He needs shoes only to protect his feet from cold or rough surfaces.