When walking begins, everything changes! These important gross motor milestones, which include crawling, crawling, cruising, and even walking backward, are what parents treasure. It’s only a matter of time before your baby can stand and take a step forward to discover all that’s out there.
Your baby can take her first steps within days or months after learning how to stand. Once she starts to walk, it is just a matter of time. To walk and toddle.
Are you ready to follow your little one around? This is where babies and toddlers start walking. There are signs that your child is on the verge of walking and ways you can encourage her.
At what age do babies begin to walk?
While some children walk before they turn 1, others begin to walk after their first birthday. This is usually around month 14. After graduating, the baby often takes some early steps, from pulling up to cruising (or holding onto a couch, coffee table, or ottoman). This is usually around months 9-10.
Early cruisers may make their first attempt at letting go of the furniture that has held them upright. This could be the beginning of toddling. Most children wait until their first birthday to take independent steps. However, most children walk well by the time they turn 18.
It may all be in her wiring. Your child may follow in her parents’ footsteps (early or later). You also have to consider your build and your temperament. High-energy babies will likely show off their skills sooner than those who are calm and happy to be held. Some children are more cautious and won’t take a step unless they are certain they won’t fall, while others are daredevils who will jump in, literally.
Your toddler will learn to walk eventually, but it will be according to her schedule and not yours. There are many ways you can help your toddler (see below), but instead of focusing on the finish line, take baby steps. It will make her victory lap that much sweeter.
The stages of learning to walk
Each baby’s approach to learning how to walk is unique. These are the phases your baby might go through before they start walking. It’s perfectly normal for some of these stages to be skipped.
- Crawling This classic hands-and-knees movement is usually between 7-10 months of age. Some babies begin crawling by rocking their knees and hands.
- Creeping with crawling, a baby may pull her body forward using her arms which are stronger than her legs and drag the rest behind.
- Scooting Some babies glide on their bottoms, pushing with their arms. Your tot might slide commando-style on her stomach.
- Cruising This is the last stage of learning before you can walk. It means that your baby can hold onto a piece of furniture while standing up.
These are signs your child is ready to walk.
If your baby has completed one of the previous learning stages, you’ll be able to tell if walking is imminent. You might also notice signs that your baby is starting to walk, such as better balance and standing upright for longer periods (which can indicate greater strength). Your cutie will likely soon be able to push a toy with wheels and walk like a pro.
If your baby has a sleep regression, walking may be possible. This disruption in your baby’s normal snoozing habits is often due to her new skills learned during the day. If your 12-month sleep regression is severe, it could be that your child’s walking has been preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
How to encourage your child’s walking
There are many ways to encourage walking. The best way is to let your baby explore her surroundings and try it for herself.
Your child should have ample time to explore the world outside her stroller/carrier and not be tied to a swing or playard. These are some ways to encourage your child to take those first steps.
- Make a trail. You can use the same tricks to get a baby to crawl and pull up, but it can also motivate a beginner cruiser. Your baby might try new ways to get at the prize if she stands up.
- You can activate her cruise control. Your toddler should be able to stand but not afraid. If she is unsure, you can help her to set up durable furniture so that she can support herself.
- Hold onto her hand. Walking with her and holding your hands can encourage independence.
- Could you give her a push-toy? Your child will feel more in control if she pushes the mower or small shopping cart. It will also help your child strengthen her legs, improve her balance, and increase confidence. It would help if you looked for strong toys that she could lean on or have a handle. Also, big wheels make it more difficult for the toy not to tip over.
- However, it would help if you did not use an infant walker. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has demanded a ban on the manufacture and sale of infant walkers in the United States. Studies have shown that they can affect a baby’s motor development, slow down normal spinal curve development, and cause problems with their posture. Walking can cause injuries by causing a fall or tripping over the stairs.
- Limit the time spent in activity centers. These centers are not designed to improve your baby’s walking skills. Keep your baby in the activity center for no more than 30 minutes. She needs to strengthen her arm and torso muscles to walk.
- Keep her toes bare. For beginning walkers, skip shoes. Your baby can walk indoors or outdoors barefoot or, if you prefer, in non-slip shoes. This will help to build muscle tone and help develop her arches. It will also help balance and coordination.
- Outside, wear comfortable shoes. Shoes should be lightweight and flexible for outdoor adventures. Avoid high heels and big booties. Too much ankle support can slow down your walker’s ability to move.