Help Your Child Learn To Crawl Up Stairs With These 7 Tips!

It’s been a fun time in the Smith household lately as we’ve had the privilege of watching our son go through a developmental explosion. In the last few months he has sat up by himself , gotten his first tooth, begun to self feed, has become a master inchwormer, and has pulled himself up to a standing position for the first time!

And today he decided to add another developmental milestone to his ever growing list; climbing up the stairs for the first time!

I think I can, I think I can….I know I can!

child toddler learning to climb stairs physical therapy

Noah’s been working on stair climbing for a while now so it was fun to see the sense of accomplishment (and smile) on his face when he finally reached the top of the staircase. As you can see at the beginning of the video, it wasn’t easy, but he stuck with it!

Noah’s therapists have been teaching him to crawl up the stairs for months, and just like The Little Engine that Could we’ve been chanting “I think I can, I think I can….” to cheer him on, and today he decided to turn “I think I can” into “I know I can!”

I love when that happens!

Helping your baby become a Stair Master

baby down syndrome working hard physical therapy

Crawling up stairs is one of those gross motor skills that’s important for your child to learn. If you live in the United States your child may be involved in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) or involved with a private physical therapist who will help them learn to crawl up stairs.

If your child’s physical therapist hasn’t started working on stair climbing yet and you think they should, be sure to ask them about it. Communication with your child’s developmental team is important. So never be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes parents worry that their questions may come across as offensive, or as if they are second guessing the therapist (or medical professional) but most of the time this isn’t true at all

And heck, even if does come across as offensive, who cares? 🙂 This is your child you’re talking about here, I think it’s worth the risk. In fact, medical professionals typically appreciate when parents ask questions. You’d be surprised how many parents aren’t actively involved in their child’s developmental progress, and this is one of those times when a “hands-off” approach isn’t best. So I give you full permission to ask away.) 🙂

On a side note; It’s important to remember that even though Noah is 12 months old in this video, your child may learn to climb up stairs much earlier, or much later. And that’s ok. As parents we have to constantly resist the temptation of comparing our child’s development to someone else’s.

Your chid will grow and develop at their own pace, and that’s ok. 🙂

7 tips to help your child learn to climb up 1-2 stairs

how to help baby learn to crawl up stairs down syndrome

If you’re interested in helping your child learn to crawl up the stairs at home, Patricia Winders shares some great tips in her book Gross Motor Skills in Children With Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals (a book every parent of a child with Down Syndrome should own. Also be sure to check out our top resources post for more great books to add to your library.

She notes that babies will be ready to start learning to climb up stairs once they have started creeping or crawling…or in Noah’s case, inch worming! 🙂

  1. Place your child on his feet on the stair below the landing and place his hands on the landing. (The landing being the flat area at the top of the stairs.)
  2. Place a developmental motivator (like a toy) on the landing, and of of their reach.
  3. See if he will try to move after the toy on his own. If not, bend one knee and place it on the landing. Hold his knee and wait for him to move his body forward.
  4. Continue to practice this activity until he can move up by himself without your help.
  5. When he climbs up on the landing from the first stair place his feet on the second stair from the top. Place his hand and a toy on the landing.
  6. See if he tries to climb up. Climbing up will require: a.) moving each knee up to the first step; b.) sliding his hands forward on the landing; c.) moving onto his feet; d.) moving each knee onto the landing.
  7. Supervise him so he is safe and help him as needed. Position yourself behind him and help him learn the movement required If his feet slide, block them from sliding.

As always, be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician before attempting any of these tips. Every child is unique and what works for one may not work for all. (By the way, here’s a few suggestions on choosing the right pediatrician for your child.)

Has your child started climbing the stairs her, or are they still working on it? Do you have any additional tips for helping a child master the stairs? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience.

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. maddie jacobs says

    WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO NOAH way to go buddy today the stairs tomorrow taking some steps , love usein the toy to get him to climb funny how they will do things for toys , that is how we got aimee to crawl is put a toy in front of her that she likes n left it there n didnt do anything but sit n watch n she did it after a while she would rock then shed roll to it but id move it away so shed crawl to it . once she got to it she got it n played with it for a long time .congrats on do ing the stairs noah .

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