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 things. 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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At what age does a child start walking? Every baby in the first year of life grows and develops very rapidly. Every day he masters more and more skills that in the future are necessary for absolutely any person.
For example, by one month the baby holds his head for a short time, grabs a toy placed in his hand, and tries to follow objects. And by the age of three months, he already holds his head steadily, shakes his rattle and rattles with might and main, yeah, yeah, gu, ha. Six months after birth, the baby begins to show his character, act up, try to sit down and crawl on his own. After this new movement, parents begin to expect the first steps that come with time.
Especially young parents are worried about the situation when all their friends say that their baby started walking much earlier than their little one. And only then, for a long time before the first steps, parents worry about the health and level of development of their son or daughter.
At what age should a baby start walking
Few parents really know at what age their babies start walking, so it's very difficult for them to know if their baby is developing normally or has delays. Experts say that babies usually start walking between the ages of 10 months and 1 year. It depends on the individual characteristics of the development of each little man.
First of all, this period depends on the temperament of the baby. Calm and obedient children are not particularly in a hurry to take their first steps, so do not be surprised if by the year the baby has not yet got on his feet. At this age, it is enough for them to move on all fours. More active children who are in a hurry to explore the world tend to please their parents with early steps, starting to rise to their feet at the age of 8-9months. Quite often it happens that babies start walking very early, and after a few weeks they again stop their first attempts.
The development of the child's muscular system depends on whether the child begins to take his first steps sooner or later. A kid who regularly received the necessary massage complex, as a rule, begins to walk much earlier. Well, of course, the period of the first attempts to stand up depends on the size of the baby.
Usually more slender guys begin to move much earlier than their chubby peers. Therefore, if the mother noticed that the child cannot stand up after the first year of his life, then you need to pay attention first to his weight. It is likely that the main problem of the baby is hidden in nutrition.
Also, you should not put pressure on your boy if the girl next door, his age, has already started stomping. Everyone has heard more than once that girls are a little ahead of boys in development. In fact, that's the way it is. Even in this case, there is a clear difference. Girls usually start walking at 9-10 months, while boys do the same thing closer to the year. Of course, these are averages and completely opposite cases occur periodically.
Nevertheless, experienced pediatricians say that the mastery of walking in the age range starts from 8 months and lasts up to 16 months. If during this period the child did not try to walk, it is better to contact a specialist in time, who will prescribe a set of exercises to strengthen the muscles of the whole body. Most likely, the child simply has a weak body that needs to be developed periodically.
If parents think that their child should have mastered the first steps a long time ago, it is necessary to help him in this. However, it is also impossible to overdo it in this matter, and before embarking on such an important point, it is better to consult with the appropriate specialist. It is possible that the baby is not yet ready for this important moment, and his muscles are not yet in that condition.
As already mentioned, it is impossible to go to extremes, as this can cause the opposite effect. If the baby wants to get on his own feet, but can only do this with the help of an adult, you need to help him, support him under the arms. So the baby will feel safe and supported. But as soon as the baby shows his discontent and unwillingness to continue the exercises, it is better not to put pressure on him. For babies, this is still very difficult, but gradually his muscles and bones will get stronger, and then he himself will begin to take the initiative.
Special supports in the form of furniture should be installed throughout the entire house: chairs, pouffes and other elements that the baby could hold on to while walking. In specialized stores or on the Internet, you can buy racks and other parts that would help the child in the process of learning to move around the room.
The distance between these supports should be gradually increased at least once a week. Thanks to this, the child will begin to actively overcome all his fears and will strive for a greater distance of walking without support. Pediatricians also advise stimulating babies and putting their favorite toys at a distance.
Recently, the use of walkers to master walking skills is considered undesirable by many specialists. The reason is that a long stay of a baby in a walker has a number of disadvantages:
leads to spinal deformity and foot curvature;
slows down an important skill - to fall correctly, since there is no need to keep balance in a walker;
the sense of danger of collision with objects is dulled;
the child is deprived of the main instrument of cognition - hands and mouth.
After the first attempts to walk independently, it is better to completely abandon the walker. In addition, doctors recommend removing them from the baby’s field of vision, as he will constantly be capricious and demand this help. In such cases, walkers contribute exclusively to developmental delay.
Baby learned to walk with your help. Use walking for speech games. For example, hold the baby under the armpits or by the elbows and accompany him walking with various rhythmic rhymes:
I'm walking, I'm walking
And counting my steps:
One, two, three, four
I'm walking around the apartment.
I jump: jump-jump,
After the child takes the first independent step, you can buy special orthopedic shoes that will prevent flat feet and other walking problems. It is very important that the shoes have a small heel, a hard heel, and a sole with an anti-slip coating. This contributes to the formation of a normal healthy foot and posture in the baby.
If such actions also did not provide any results, then you need to seek help. It is likely that the child is a little behind in physical development, and this can only be corrected with the help of specialists: a pediatrician, neurologist, orthopedist, massage therapist, exercise therapy doctor and others.
If after the first 16 months of life your baby has not tried to stand up, you should definitely seek help. If no pathologies are found, parents should do their best to make the child want to take the first step:
small supports and bright objects are placed throughout the room;
, if necessary, stimulate the baby. For example, periodically use the services of a children's masseur, who knows not only massage techniques, but also performs feasible exercises with the child;
from 9 months on a walk, you can roll the baby stroller with him, use a variety of wheelchairs.
But the main thing is to satisfy the child's need for such an important stage of development as crawling. Indeed, without it, the muscular apparatus will definitely not be ready for walking.