When my eldest was younger I was always asked how he could walk so far. Believe me, he didn’t always and it has taken a lot of practice to get him to this stage.
I wrote this blog originally 3 years ago and these tips are very much the same with my youngest. I’m taking my own advice and perfecting these tips to ensure that as a family we can get out together and enjoy walking.
These are my top tips for getting your little one used to the outdoors and building up their stamina.
- Snacks and lots of them.
- Distraction techniques – running, jumping, finding things, hide and seek, I Spy, singing, telling stories, looking for bugs, scavenger hunts, find sticks, jumping in puddles, climbing rocks.
- Challenges. Everybody likes a challenge and sense of achievement so this works well with Little Man. We set mini challenges along the route such as ‘first to reach the top’ or ‘find the biggest stick’. When he achieves it we then celebrate his victory which makes him want to do it again. we also set ourselves bigger challenges over a time period and have charts on his playroom door at home.
- The right clothing including footwear and layers. I would recommend investing in a pair of walking boots if you are going to be doing quite a bit of walking. Also a variety of footwear is ideal; trainers/pumps and wellies for shorter walks. In the winter thermals are a good idea then they can wear a puddle suit rather than a snow suit as they can be quite restrictive. Layers though is the key. Always take a rucksack though as you know you are going to end up carrying them!
- Make it exciting. Don’t walk for the sake of it. That was always my bug bear as a child; doing the same walk over and over again or not having anything exciting to see or do on the walk. We are always finding new walks and places to go. I try and go on seasonal walks if it is to a repeated place so there are different things to experience. Go on organised trails with characters, clues and games etc. Or feature walks such as waterfalls. We are definitely not the trudging through fields kind of people!!
- Start small and build it up. Carry them a little to give them a rest then put them down again. There are various carriers that we have used which are useful up to the age of 2 which can also help. Doing short sections builds up their stamina – don’t expect too much too soon. Go often. Practise makes perfect!
- Take photos and videos of the walk then play them back and talk about the day when you get home. Relay the story to family members too and tell them how exciting it was. This then reinforces happy memories which stick.
- Go on walks with different people to make it more interesting. Different people add a new dynamic such as games, conversation, challenge and more importantly their snacks are always better than yours!!
- Always carry a toy. In our case a car. I always have a couple in the depths of my bag/coat pocket. When he starts getting bored the car is a good distraction technique. He gets so immersed in ‘brumming’ he forgets about his tiredness/hunger/being bored and just runs off!!
- Constant chatter. “What’s that?” “where’s the…?” “look at that!” “have you seen…?”, make a lot of amazed noises… “wow” “ooo” “ahhh” “beautiful”, sing a lot of songs, narrate what you see – the colours, the noises, the weather, what you can see, count. You will get sick of the sound of your own voice but again anything to encourage them that bit further.
Not all littlies are the same so these may or may not work with yours. However all I can say is keep at it, build it up slowly and most importantly enjoy it. If you’re having fun then they will be too!
Do you have any other tried and tested methods of getting little ones to walk?