Don’t let the one-tooth grin, chubby arms and baby talk fool you. Inside the cutest package ever burns a fierce determination to do the impossible: walk.
But when should your baby start walking, and what are the signs it’s going to happen soon? Pediatrician Michele Marshall, MD, has your baby-walking bible.
When babies start walking
While the average age for babies to start walking is about 12 months, some take their first steps even earlier or much later. “Babies can start walking as early as 9 months,” Dr. Marshall says. “It’s also normal for babies to take more time and start walking at 17 or 18 months.”
Once they get going, they may not master this new skill right away. “Expect that wide-based gait for a while,” Dr. Marshall says. “It takes a bit of time to get their balance. Your child might not be up and running until around 15 to 18 months old.”
Signs your baby will walk soon
How do you know your baby is getting close to life on the go? At around 9 to 12 months, watch for these signs your baby will walk soon:
Pulling to a stand.
“Cruising,” or holding onto something while walking.
Standing without support.
While some babies crawl, too, it’s not necessarily a prerequisite to walking. “Some babies only commando crawl (pulling themselves along on their stomach). Others crawl on their hands and knees or skip crawling altogether,” Dr. Marshall notes. “What’s most important is the ability to independently pull themselves up to a complete stand. That’s the big milestone that occurs just before babies start independently walking.”
How to encourage walking in babies (safely)
If your little one just can’t seem to get over the hump, Dr. Marshall recommends a few ways to encourage your baby to walk:
Lend a hand: Once your baby can pull to a stand, hold their hands to help them take steps.
Use props: “Push toys can be helpful. They’ve got four points on the floor, so they’re very steady, and your child can use them for support as they pull up and move along,” Dr. Marshall says. Common household items can do the trick, too. Flip over a laundry basket, which is typically babies’ height and will steadily scooch along with them as they stand or push it.
Avoid baby walkers: Baby walkers are devices with wheels that you sit your child in to propel themselves around. “They can be dangerous around open doors and stairs and can also get stuck in places,” Dr. Marshall warns.
She also cautions against leaving your child unattended as they practice their new skill. “If you need to step away for a minute, put your baby in a play area that they can’t escape from or in their crib or portable playard. Babies always find something to get into, so the best thing to do is get down on all fours and look around to see any dangers you need to block off.”
When should your baby start wearing shoes?
While tiny shoes can melt even the hardest of hearts, they’re not necessary for a child to learn to walk properly.
“We need shoes when we’re protecting our feet or going outside,” Dr. Marshall says, “but within the home, bare feet or socks with rubber grips on the bottom are just fine.”
In fact, being barefoot may help your child feel the floor better, which could actually help them move along.
When to talk to your doctor about your baby’s walking
Keep in mind that what’s healthy and normal for one child may not be for another. Every child grows and develops at their own pace.
Talk to your pediatrician, though, if your child achieves all the milestones leading up to walking but isn’t walking independently by 18 months old. Those milestones include:
Rolling over in both directions (between 4 to 6 months).
Sitting without support (typically 6 to 7 months).
Pulling to a stand.
“If they’re achieving all of those, be patient because they may just need more time,” Dr. Marshall says. “But if you have any concerns about when your baby should be walking or meeting other physical milestones, we’re here to help. ”
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 dad or mom started walking at an early age, it is likely that children will 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 muscles of your back and neck, 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 to his feet, 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 during a walk, 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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First steps. At what age does a child start walking?
- Our Vanya went today! - Mom joyfully meets dad after work, beaming with happiness. - Vanechka, look who's come! - And the hero of the holiday cautiously and timidly stupidly meets his big daddy, who throws him right up to the very ceiling ...
Do not compare: everything is subjective
The first steps of a baby are always a holiday, in every family. Moms on the playground show off the achievements of the little ones: Olenka has learned to crawl off the sofa, Ilyusha has been getting up and walking along the sofa for the third day already, but Vanechka took the first independent steps in his life! Ilyushin's mother is upset - after all, her son is a whole month older, but he still does not walk.
And you don't need to be upset at all! The age when babies begin to walk without leaning on a wall or other support ranges from 8 to 14 months - everyone is different. Experts call different numbers. It is recommended to consult a doctor if the baby is one and a half years old, and he still has not gone. In other sources, the upper limit is 16 months.
As you can see, the age of the first independent steps for each child is very individual, as well as the growth schedule and other physical achievements.
Babies walk differently
The moment when the baby gets into his bed and, holding tightly to the sides, awkwardly steps along the crib, in fact, is considered the beginning of walking. The delighted mother rushes things, takes the baby out of the crib and puts it on the floor in order to finally walk around the room with him by the hand. Do not hurry! With exercises in the crib, the little one strengthens its still clumsy legs, training the muscles and making them stronger.
The gait of toddlers is not at all like the gait of adults. No wonder - after all, it will form only by the age of 4-5, at the same age characteristic synchronous movements of the arms and legs will appear, when the right arm rises simultaneously with the left leg in the swing, and vice versa (it looks as if a person is marching at a free pace ; actually, after all, all people walk like that).
In the meantime, children who are or are about to turn one year old walk with their legs wide apart for balance, while the feet are turned outward, and the legs themselves are bent at the knee and hip joints. At the age of 2-3 years, babies walk differently: their legs are almost straightened, that is, they are practically not bent at the knees, so it seems that the baby has stood on stilts.
Barefoot or shoes?
Every mother is sure that the first steps are the signal to buy a whole arsenal of new children's shoes. Interlaced sandals with beads, tiny shoes with rhinestones, demi-season boots decorated with flowers, elegant sneakers with a fashionable print. However, when choosing shoes, the main criterion should remain quality and comfort, and only then - the appearance and synchronization with children's fashion trends.
So, how is it better for a baby to enter a new life - in slippers or socks, or even barefoot?
Orthopedists recommend taking the first step in shoes that must be equipped with arch support. They claim that this serves as a prevention of flat feet, in addition, shoes limit the foot and prevent it from spreading. But differences of opinion exist even among orthopedists. In the book " Take off your shoes - and go " American orthopedist Simon Wikler concludes based on his own research: the more a person walks barefoot and the more flexible the sole of his shoes, the healthier his foot.