When Do Babies Walk?
If you’re lucky enough to be there when your baby takes those first steps, the moment is something you’ll remember forever. But when exactly your little one will reach this exciting milestone is anyone’s guess. Read on to find out approximately when your baby may start walking, what some of the signs of readiness are, how to create a safe environment for walking, and what to do if you are not seeing progress.
When Do Babies Start Walking?
Many babies start taking their first steps at around 12 months of age, but your baby may start walking a little earlier or later than this, which is quite normal. Your little one won’t just learn to walk from one moment to the next. Instead, over the first year of his life, he’ll be gaining the skills and muscle strength needed to do things like roll over, crawl, sit up, pull himself up, and stand so that he can eventually walk. This is why all of the playtime and tummy time your little one experiences during the first year is so important. These activities encourage the development of the motor skills, confidence, and independence your baby will need to do things like walk.
Stages of Learning to Walk
Here are some skills and stages that lead up to your baby starting to walk:
Rolling over: Your baby will learn how to roll from front to back and from back to front somewhere between 4 months and 7 months old. Always keep an eye—and a hand—on your baby when she’s anywhere up high, as she could start to roll or flip over unexpectedly at any time.
Crawling: This is when your baby really starts to gain some independence! Somewhere between 7 and 10 months, most babies start to crawl. Don’t be surprised if you see your little one do something other than the classic crawl. There are many different crawling styles, including what looks like a bear crawl and a crab crawl.
Standing: Eventually your little one will start to pull herself up to a standing position. However, she may not know how to get back down. If you see your baby struggling with this, demonstrate how to bend the knees to sit back down, and help her down. She’ll eventually get the hang of it. Keep in mind, she will likely try to pull himself up on objects like chairs, the couch, bookshelves, and sideboards, so make sure everything is baby proofed so furniture can’t topple onto her.
First steps: After mastering standing, your baby may start to take some tentative steps, sometimes holding on to your hand for help, or cruising alongside furniture. She may teeter and totter and even drop before getting back up again, but typically within a few days of those first few steps, your baby will have improved her balance and gained confidence.
Signs Your Baby May Start to Walk Soon
By the time your little one is 1 year old, she will likely be crawling quite expertly. Around this time, you might see signs that your baby will walk soon. These include pulling herself up to a standing position, crouching and bouncing, standing, and cruising. As your baby starts to become more aware that everyone around her is walking, she’ll want to join in too. You might notice that your little one is gaining more self-confidence, that she wants more independence and control of her movement, and that she is eager to explore the world around her, including those things that are only in reach if she walks toward them.
How to Encourage Your Baby to Walk
To help encourage your baby to start walking, here are some ideas:
Let your little one play with an activity centre with toys or a stationary walker.
Give your toddler a wagon or a push car with a bar that she can hold onto. Just make sure that the wagon or car is weighted in such a way that it will not tip over when your baby uses the bar to pull herself up from a seated position. It’s important to closely supervise this kind of play.
If your baby is already standing, dangle a favourite toy out of reach and encourage your baby to walk toward it.
Hold your baby’s hands as she stands, and let her practice taking a few steps.
Give your baby opportunities to safely cruise while holding on to stable pieces of furniture.
Allow your little one to spend plenty of time moving each day. This might mean reducing the time spent in strollers, cribs, or car seats where your little one is restricted.
Creating a Safe Environment
You might be a little nervous as your little one starts to walk, especially with all those little stumbles and falls as she gradually masters this newfound skill. If she does take a small tumble, stay calm, give her a reassuring hug, and let her get back to adventuring. As your baby learns to walk, take another look at your home to make sure it’s baby proofed for this new stage. Here are a few tips to consider when baby proofing your home:
Keep your baby’s exploratory area free from sharp furniture corners and trip hazards. For example, add corner guards and roll up any area rugs.
Install a baby gate at the top and bottom of the stars, and to other entryways you want to keep your little one out of.
Carefully secure any furniture like bookshelves and sideboards so that it won’t topple over if your toddler pulls on it as she pulls herself up or cruises.
Should Your Baby Use a Walker?
Despite the name, the use of a baby walker is not recommended for three reasons:
It can reduce your baby’s desire to walk
It can be dangerous if your baby bumps into an obstacle like an area rug or a small toy, which can cause the walker to tip over with him in it
Your baby may be more likely to fall down stairs or get into unsafe areas that he would otherwise be unable to reach.
When Should Your Baby Wear Shoes to Walk?
As your little one starts walking outside, he’ll need shoes to protect his feet. Look for closed toe, comfortable, and flexible shoes with nonskid soles and some room to grow. Sneakers are a good option. During this time, your baby’s feet will grow very fast, so the first pair may only last about two to three months. Check the fit every month or so to see if a bigger size is needed. It’s a good idea to take your child for a professional fitting so that the size and style of shoe is right.
How Your Baby’s Walking Skills Develop Over Time
At first, your baby may walk with her feet set wide apart as she tries to master her balance. Some little tumbles may happen during this time, but eventually she’ll get the hang of it. Soon enough, instead of stopping and falling, you’ll see her stopping and changing directions. After about six months of practice, your toddler will develop a more mature gait, and keep her hands by her side instead of out in front. She’ll also walk with her feet closer together. You may even see that she’s moving her feet in a more natural heel-to-toe way.
When to Visit Your Healthcare Provider
If between 12 and 24 months, you see that your baby seems to be struggling with walking, raise this issue at your baby’s next well-child visit, which typically takes place at 12, 15, 18, and 24 months. Of course, feel free to contact your baby’s healthcare provider in between visits if you wish. You might like to be in touch with your baby’s provider sooner if you don’t see your baby:
walk by 18 months
walk with a mature gait after months of practicing
walk any way except on her tiptoes
climb stairs while under your close supervision.
FAQS AT A GLANCE
Seeing your baby take her first steps can be one of the happiest times for you, your partner, and your family. Naturally, it can also be a little nerve-racking seeing your baby start to toddle and explore the world using this new skill for the first time. Give her a safe environment, and let her learn at her own pace. If you have any concerns at all, turn to your healthcare provider for advice. During this time, you’ll probably be going through a lot of diapers. Why not turn those diapers into rewards by using the Pampers Club app? Simply download the app, add your Pampers product codes, and receive discounts and coupons.
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