Learning to walk | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
Babies usually start walking sometime between about 10 and 18 months old.
Activities such as crawling and pulling themselves up to stand help your baby develop muscle strength and balance for walking.
You can help your baby by providing a safe environment for early walking, giving lots of playtime and encouraging your baby to move around independently and experiment.
When will my baby learn to walk?
Walking for the first time is one of the many exciting and memorable milestones in your child's development. Your baby has been preparing to walk from an early age. Now all the rolling, sitting up, bottom shuffling, crawling, furniture cruising and standing culminates in your baby's newest adventure: first steps.
Babies usually start walking sometime between about 10 and 18 months old. Before walking, babies will usually have been crawling (between 7 and 12 months) and pulling themselves up to stand (usually between ages 9 and 12 months).
How does my baby develop walking skills?
To walk, your baby needs to have developed many skills, including balance, coordination, standing up and being able to shift their body weight from one leg to the other.
Each new skill your baby develops builds on the previous skills your baby has learnt. As your baby gets older, the skills they learn get more and more complex.
While your baby was busy crawling and pulling up to stand, then cruising between pieces of furniture, they were building muscle strength. They were also developing skills like balance and coordination, which are all needed for walking and, later, running.
Once your baby starts to walk, they continue this process. They may experiment with moving from the floor to standing then back down again. They may move from sitting to standing and back again, walking, and then squatting to play. All these activities also help strengthen their muscles and balance. They’ll keep on practicing and experimenting to improve their walking skills. They may walk in different directions, on different surfaces and while carrying large toys.
What can I do to help my baby learn to walk?
You can help most by providing a supporting physical and social setting and opportunities to practice walking.
Here are some general tips for helping your baby at this stage:
Play together — being with or near your child when they explore helps them feel safe and builds their confidence.
Encourage independent walking — being active and moving around builds your child's muscle strength and posture, which helps your child get better at walking and prepares them for running.
You can start by positioning yourself about two metres from your baby and encouraging them to walk to you. Once they’ve achieved this you can increase the distance. You can encourage them to push a toy pram or trolley. Once they’re confident walking around, you can set up an obstacle course with soft cushions or foam shapes to walk over or around.
Make your home safe — as your baby starts to move around the house more, keeping the area around them clear ensures there are no accidents and creates lots of opportunities to walk and explore.
Do not use a baby walker — these do not help your baby learn to walk and can actually delay development of walking skills. They also cause thousands of injuries every year in Australia.
When should I seek help?
If your baby is 18 months or older and isn't walking on their own yet, or if you're concerned about any areas of your baby's development, contact your child’s doctor or a child health nurse for advice.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
NSW Government (Munch and Move Resource Manual Birth to Five Years), Government of Western Australia (Child development 1-2 years), Government of Western Australia (Child development 9-12 months), Government of South Australia (Child development 6- 9 months And Child development 9-12 months), Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) (Learning to stand and walk - why babies don\u2019t need baby walkers)
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Last reviewed: June 2022
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6 Signs Baby Will Walk Soon and How to Encourage Walking
From recording that first smile and rollover to proudly sharing your baby’s skill at sitting up and crawling, you’re on the edge of your rocking chair waiting for your little one’s next move.
And one of the most game-changing milestones might be approaching soon — taking those first adorable, wobbly steps.
Walking is a greatly anticipated infant achievement. It’s a sure sign that your little one is entering the toddler zone (and some serious babyproofing is in your near future).
But you might also be wondering if walking early or “late” is related to intelligence and even physical performance in the future.
While a 2015 cross-national study correlated learning to walk with advancing language abilities in infancy, rest assured: Research suggests that there’s no proven association between walking early and becoming the next Isaac Newton or Serena Williams.
In fact, according to this Swiss study in 2013, children who started walking early didn’t perform better on intelligence and motor skills tests between the ages of 7 and 18 compared to babies who did not walk early. What this study did conclude, however, is this:
There’s a tremendous variance in when babies decide to start strutting — usually between 8 1/2 and 20 months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that these walking-related physical milestones are typically met by age 1:
pulling up to stand
walking while holding on to furniture
may be taking a few independent steps
standing holding on and may stand alone
We know you want to capture those first steps in your heart (and on video) forever, so let’s take a more in-depth look at these and other signs that toddling is imminent.
Pulling up on furniture to stand is one of the first signs of walking readiness.
This boosts babies’ leg muscles and coordination — just think of how many squats they’re doing! Over time, the mini workouts condition your baby to stand independently, and then, move ahead with a few wobbly steps.
You can encourage this by modeling their movements while saying “up!” as they pull up, and “down!” as they squat down again.
If, out of the corner of your eye, you catch your sweet Houdini suddenly standing on top of the couch and smiling while ready to nosedive, it might be a sign that their inner confidence is shining.
While this puts you on accident alert — and on catcher’s duty — it’s a great developmental signal that your baby is confident about trying new things (however dangerous they may be). To walk independently, babies must have self-efficacy in their ability to do it.
So if you’re catching yourself helicopter-momming-it, try to find your zen and let your little explorer push their physical abilities — in a safe environment.
“Cruising” describes a baby walking while holding onto objects. They might use the coffee table to move around or lean from one object to another to work the room.
This shows that your tiny sport is learning how to shift weight and balance while taking steps. It also prepares for the ability to propel forward, which is required for walking.
To promote cruising, create a path of safe objects for your baby to grab onto and move about.
But take caution with furniture, plants, and other items that aren’t safely secured to walls or the ground. They could topple over, leading to an accidental fall or injury.
Who would have thought that the fussiness and extra-long nap could be a tip-off that your baby will soon blaze by you on their tiptoes?
Well, walking is such a big developmental milestone that it’s often accompanied by other developmental leaps. Your baby’s brain and body could be working double time, leaving a slightly less tolerant tot.
These moments of parenthood are tough, so take a deep breath and find solace knowing that (usually) things return to normal after a developmental milestone is achieved.
Offering safe, age-appropriate push-toys (not infant walkers — more on this below) can inspire your child to walk while picking up some speed.
Infant play grocery carts or musical walking toys with wheels and handles can bring joy and assistance to beginning walkers. You can also hold your baby’s hand or give them a blanket to hold while you hold the other end and walk.
The look on a baby’s face when they first stand alone is often one of accomplishment (and perhaps an ounce of fear, too).
At this moment, babies have the balance and stability to stand on their own. They often test the waters for a few seconds, and then gradually stand for longer periods of time, boosting confidence to take it a step further.
Make it a fun learning activity by slowly counting for as long as your child stands.
If your baby shows signs of readiness, consider these activities to boost their self-efficacy and strength.
To promote walking:
Deliver praise. Watch for baby’s cues that they’re ready to advance — and praise every achievement. Help when needed, and sit back with a smile when you see that glimmer of self-determination in their eyes.
Comfort a fall. Falls are inevitable in the infancy of walking, so be there to help your little one up again and console a few tears. Babyproofing is important at this stage to create the safest environment possible for your baby to explore.
Create challenges. If your baby has mastered walking on flat surfaces, challenge them by walking up and down a ramp or on a safe, uneven surface. This helps build more balance, coordination, and muscle power.
Extend a hand. Encourage your baby to walk to you as you extend your hands toward them. You can also ask them to follow you as you walk into another room.
You might want your baby to defy all statistics, but it’s vital to encourage walking in a positive, safe, and developmentally appropriate way. Here are some things to avoid.
Avoid the following:
Don’t use infant walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using infant walkers, citing that they’re a preventable and dangerous cause of infant injury in the United States. These injuries usually occur to the head and neck after a fall down stairs. Stationary infant activity centers (like a Jumperoo or Excersaucer) are safer bets.
Avoid pushing your own milestone goals. Be mindful of pushing children to achieve goals before they’re ready to do so on their own. This can result in negative experiences or injuries that could delay walking even further.
If your baby isn’t meeting these physical milestones by their first birthday, should you be concerned? Not quite.
The CDC recommends talking to your child’s pediatrician if they’re not walking at all by 18 months and not walking steadily by age 2 — so you have plenty of time even if your little one hasn’t started showing signs by age 1.
You may also worry that even a slight delay in walking could indicate additional developmental and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.
While the results of a small 2012 study concluded that early motor delays may be a risk factor for future communication delays in children at risk of autism, for children with a low risk of autism, parents should not jump to this assumption.
There are many reasons for late walking in babies. Some are physical (and not common), such as:
developmental hip dysplasia
soft or weak bones (medically termed rickets)
conditions that affect the muscle (for example, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy)
Other times, the delay could be mere personality.
While walking may seem like it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, for a baby, it’s a monumental achievement that takes physical strength, confidence, and a safe place to practice.
And although your baby is smart enough to get to this milestone on their own, a supportive coach certainly doesn’t hurt, either (that’s you!).
Some of these signs might tell you that your baby is ready to walk, but each child’s “go time” is that of their own.
Lastly, if you’re ever concerned about your child’s physical development, speak to their pediatrician for professional guidance and support.
When a child starts walking and how to help him
When the child should go
Pediatricians agree on some points. The average child takes Your Baby's First Steps with their first step at 12 months. The key word here is average. And your unique one has every right (approved by pediatricians and physiologists) to go to a different age.
The scope of the norm in this case varies very widely - from 8 months to one and a half years.
Many parents are proud that their children start walking earlier than most. It seems to them that this speaks of the development of the child. But this is just a far-fetched excuse to amuse their parental vanity.
The age at which the child will go is related to his development, physical or intellectual abilities in exactly the same way as the shape of the nose or the color of the hair. In plain text, no way. Someone is red, someone has gray eyes, and someone went on their own at 8 months.
However, there are still certain situations when a delay in starting to walk should alert.
When to start worrying
First, a healthy child must somehow take the first independent step before 20 months Child development: Early walker or late walker of little consequence. By this age, the children have grown strong enough that it was given to them without much effort. If the child refuses to walk or does it only with support, it is necessary to contact the pediatrician. You may need additional examinations from other specialized specialists - an orthopedist or a neuropathologist.
Secondly, the overall picture is important 14 Month Old Not Walking: Should I Worry. It's one thing if the child does not walk, but his motor functions are obviously developing: he confidently rolls over, sits down, reaches for toys, crawls, tries to rise against the wall of the crib or climb onto the sofa, jumps enthusiastically when you hold him by the hands. And it’s quite another if his physical activity seems insufficient to you. This is also a serious reason to additionally consult a doctor.
If none of these situations apply to you and your children, relax. The child will definitely start walking as soon as he is ready for it.
What determines when a child goes
By and large, this is a lottery. No pediatrician will undertake to predict the exact dates, even observing a specific baby from birth and knowing everything about the family history. However, there are some regularities that allow us to make assumptions.
Here are the main factors that can affect (but not necessarily) the age at which a child takes his first independent steps.
If a father or mother started walking at an early age, children will probably inherit this feature. The reverse is also true. If, for example, a father preferred to crawl for up to a year and a half, his son may choose the same tactic.
Weight and body type
Plumper and heavier children find it harder to get on their feet and balance than their leaner and more muscular buddies.
Some personality traits
Getting to your feet and taking the first step without support is quite a risky undertaking. Some children act on the principle of "head into the pool": they simply remove their hands from the wall or sofa and step into the unknown. Of course, they fall, sometimes it hurts, but they try again. Perhaps this propensity for risky behavior is part of their nature 10 Things to Know About Walking, which will stay with them forever.
Other infants, on the other hand, behave in a more measured way - they walk only when they are sure that they can cope with this task. Caution and the ability to calculate their own strengths can also be innate features of their personality.
Duration of pregnancy
Children who were born prematurely, as a rule, begin to walk a little later than their peers.
How to help your child take the first step and walk confidently
It is impossible to force children to go to a certain date. Walking, for all its seeming simplicity, is a very complex and energy-intensive process: what does it take to maintain balance on one leg at the moment when the other takes a step. The body of the child must mature for this stage. But you can help Ways to Help Baby Learn to Walk. True, you will have to start long before the first step.
What to do at 2 months
Around this age, babies first try to roll over. Encourage this movement. Lay out your child more often in a soft, safe space filled with bright toys - so that you want to look at them and, possibly, get them.
Encourage children to spend more time on their stomachs. Trying to raise your head and look at the world around you strengthens the back and neck muscles, which play an important role in maintaining balance while walking.
What to do at 4-6 months
The period when the child learns to sit up and possibly crawl. Provide a place to explore the world: let the children spend more time not in a crib or playpen, but on the floor - spread out some blankets and lay out toys. Trying to reach objects is a great workout for small muscles.
What to do at 6-8 months
The child is already sitting confidently, or even crawling. Give him tasks for dynamics: for example, roll a bright ball on the floor so that you want to catch it. Such a ball hunt trains the vestibular apparatus and coordination.
Another exercise that has the same purpose is as follows: put the child with his back to you and gently rock.
What to do around 8 months old
As babies become stronger and more curious, they tend to break away from their usual gender. For example, get a toy lurking on the couch. Or try to climb on mom (dad), holding on to trousers or a bathrobe with your hands.
Encourage these movements. Put your favorite bear cubs out in a conspicuous place. Or, when the child is sitting, invitingly stretch your hands towards him from the height of your own height, without bending down, to encourage him to reach out to you.
If you see that the child is ready to get up, help him to do it. And then show how to bend your knees to get back on the safe floor.
During this period, it would be good to buy a stationary game center, which you can play with just getting up. This encourages children to spend more time standing up.
What to do at 9-10 months
Teach your child to stand without support. At least a couple of seconds. To do this, at a time when he is holding on to something, offer to take his favorite or new toy. This will force him to take his hands off the support.
A slightly more advanced exercise: help the child stand up and then give a plastic stick as a support. Carefully move the object - the baby will start to follow him. A stroller can also play the role of a wand: put it next to it while walking, let it grab the frame and slowly move forward.
Heavy stable toys on wheels (toy lawn mowers, carts) will also be a good simulator: by pushing them in front of them, children learn to do step by step.
What to do at 10 months and older
At this age, many children can already walk. But often they are afraid of a large open space around. Make sure that the child has the opportunity to move “along the wall” - that is, in a maximum of a step or two, move from one support to another. This will create a sense of security.
An ordinary gymnastic hoop can be used to get children to go out into the open. Throw it on the child, giving him the opportunity to lean on his hands, and lead the hoop to the center of the room. The kid will follow the support.
But the experts advise to refuse popular walkers.
Firstly, these items reduce the desire of the child to learn to walk: really, why, because he already knows how to move in space in this convenient contraption? Secondly, walkers are simply unsafe. Thanks to them, children in a matter of seconds can be where they should not be. For example, in front of the stairs leading down or at the table, on the edge of which there is a cup of hot coffee. Adults simply do not have time to keep track of this.
When you realize that your child is already trying to walk, be sure to get on all fours and look around from the height of his eyes. Sharp corners, sockets, edges of tablecloths that you want to grab and drag down, an iron on an ironing board, and the like - all these dangers must be neutralized.
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Reviewer Kovtun Tatiana Anatolievna
September 15, 2021
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The clatter of little feet running around the house is probably the best sound for moms and dads. Do you know when you took your first steps? Ask your parents - an excellent argument will appear in disputes with friends or a soulmate: “but I started walking before you!”
You'd be surprised how different we are. After all, someone firmly stood on his own two as early as eight months, and someone relaxed to the victorious, and then how he gave a tear at a year and a half.
While you are waiting for your little one's big steps, let's look at the main questions of this topic: what time do babies start walking, how to prepare them, and how to consolidate skills.
When will we finally go?
Nobody knows the exact answer to this question. The age range that pediatricians call is from 8 to 14 months, everything is very individual. It is absolutely impossible to predict this event, so do not worry if the process is delayed - the baby will go when he is ready for it. At the same time, of course, you need regular monitoring by your pediatrician, who will closely monitor the physical and motor development of the baby.
How does the baby prepare for the first steps and can he be helped?
The psychomotor development of the baby begins from birth. At first, the child's movements are disordered and chaotic. Gradually, the motor sphere is being improved.
By 3 months, the baby holds his head well. By 4-5 months - learns to turn from back to stomach and vice versa.
By 6 months, the baby begins to sit, at this moment the muscles are actively strengthened, which will help him keep his balance in space. You can help the child in his "training" - smoothly roll his favorite ball from side to side so that he reaches for it. This exercise trains the vestibular apparatus and improves coordination.
At 6-8 months, the child begins to crawl, more muscles of the arms and legs are connected to the muscles of the back and neck. Play with your baby: let him crawl across the room to you, where you will be waiting for him with a toy, and then praise him for his efforts.
After some time, periodic standing on legs with the help of a support is added to crawling - this usually happens at the age of 8-9 months. You can pull the baby by the handles so that he understands that there is a reverse process to when he sits down.
When these stages are behind you, at about 10 months old, help your baby stay on his feet. Let the baby grab the stroller on a walk or at home and slowly roll it in front of him. Of course, with your support.
Do I need to buy a walker?
The decision to buy a walker should be made by you or by consulting with the pediatrician who is watching your baby. Now many doctors recommend abandoning them altogether - there is a risk that the baby will not want to learn to walk on his own and this will delay the onset of his first steps. But despite this, walkers have their advantages. All the pros and cons we have collected in this article.
How should I react when my baby falls?
In the process of learning, the baby will often fall, stumble - this is completely normal. It is only necessary to ensure the safety of the baby, so that there are no dangerous objects in his environment, about which he can be seriously injured. Therefore, it is necessary to react to falls calmly and gently say to the child: “Did you fall? Come on get up. Dust your hands like this." If the baby is thinking of whining, then just quickly distract him with another topic: “Where did our yellow giraffe hide? Let's find him and drive a car?
When the baby begins to walk, then do not hold it constantly. The baby must learn to rise on his own, hold on to the support, flop on the ass, and rise again. Just be there and be ready to insure him.
When should I buy shoes?
As soon as the baby began to get up and take his first steps, go to the children's shoe department for his first shoes. Of course, you can buy a pair in advance, but then you run the risk of not guessing with the size: what if the baby decides to go earlier and then these red sandals will still be too big for him.