On Your Marks, Get Set, GO! When Do Babies Start Walking?

Once your baby learns how to pull themselves up to stand, they will be very excited to discover what else is out there in the big wide world, which means taking a big step forward. Your baby’s first steps will probably happen within a few days or a few months when they first learn to stand. But once they do, it’s just a hop, skips and a jump to toddling and walking. A child’s first year is full of milestones, but the most anticipated one might be walking.

The Stages of Walking

To start walking independently, babies will need to learn other developmental milestones first. Here’s a quick timeline:

Sitting Up:
At around six months, your baby will start to solve using the muscles in their trunk to stay upright.

Pulling to a Stand:
The timing of this varies, but many babies pull up to stand around ten months. 70% – 80% of our body mass is from the hips on up, so the legs need a lot of strength to lift the torso.

Cruising:
The age varies for cruising, but when your baby does it, they will make their way around the room using whatever available furniture.

Walking:
The walking puzzle’s final piece is learning how to lift off with one foot while balancing on the other!

When Do Babies Usually Start Walking?

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Every baby reaches the walking milestone at a different time. However, your baby will likely take their first steps between 9 and 15 months. They will lurch along like Frankenstein as they get used to their land legs—a wide stance and outstretched arms are characteristics of all new walkers.

To stand, your baby has to contract a lot of muscles. But to walk, they eventually need to relax their hips and knees a bit.

Once your babies get going, the next challenge is figuring out how to stop. Each step has more force than an adult’s because newbies don’t bend their knees or use a heel-toe motion, both of which absorb some of the impacts. They haven’t figured out how to break the forward momentum by stopping with one foot and bringing the trailing foot to meet it —their way of stopping, falling.

Why Do Babies Walk at Different Times?

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Whether your child is an early or late walker says less about their future athleticism and more about whether they are a risk-taker or a wait-and-see type. Some kids have an ‘I can do anything!’ mentality and want to get up and get going as soon as they discover it’s an option. They don’t worry about falls. Others don’t want to start walking until they are sure they can do so reasonably well. These children may turn out to be more cautious and contemplative.

Aside from personality, a few other factors that will affect when babies start walking.

  • Size: Bigger babies often walk later because they need more strength to get upright than a smaller baby does.
  • Recurrent Ear Infections: If a child is 16 months or older and isn’t walking, we ask about illnesses. An ear infection can throw off a baby’s balance and delay walking.
  • Birth Order: A baby with an older sibling may be motivated to walk earlier because they want to keep up, and imitate what the big kid is doing.

How to Help Baby Walk?

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You don’t need any fancy equipment to help babies build those critical skills needed to start walking. It all begins with tummy time, and then the acquisition of one skill builds to the next. For most babies, tummy time leads to rolling, sitting to crawling, and to pulling up. Here are a few tips on how to encourage your baby to walk:

Spend less time carrying them. 

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We know you love cuddling and carrying a baby, but spending too much time holding the baby is one reason for delayed walking in children. Babies will never be motivated to move on their own if they never have the chance. When teaching your baby to walk, give them plenty of time each day to explore and develop their skills independently, so they become more interested in hitting the walking milestone.

Skip the baby walker.

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Baby walkers are very popular with parents, but they slow down the baby’s learning-to-walk process. Walkers keep the child seated with hips flexed and use their lower legs to move the walker forward, which isn’t a natural walking position.  It can be dangerous if they collapse or fall down the stairs.

Minimise the time the baby spends in a playpen or activity saucer.

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The disc-type activity centres babies and toddlers sit and play with toys in are fine, but they’re not helping with movement skills at all.  If the baby is confined to a playpen or stuck in an activity saucer, there’s not enough opportunity or room for them to crawl, stretch out, rollover or stand up, which could lead them to be one of the late walkers. When it comes to developing those critical skills, there’s nothing better than being on a safe floor away from furniture with sharp corners.

Introduce a plush toy.

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Once the child is upright, cruising and furniture are around the house; a plush toy can help them learn to walk forward with support.  Some of these toys can even have the wheels adjusted so they’ll move more slowly while the child is first learning.  But you don’t have to spend money on a new toy when teaching a baby to walk. Letting your baby push a diaper box around the house can be a useful push toy too.

Let the baby go barefoot.

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While you may want to outfit your baby in adorable shoes, the second they start cruising; most experts recommend letting the baby go barefoot at first since it allows them to use their toes to help with balance. When you start shopping for baby shoes, remember to choose ones with flexible, light soles to avoid a tripping hazard and enable the muscles and bones in baby’s feet to develop correctly.

In general, babies will learn to walk when they’re ready, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some steps parents can take to help them along the way. Not only will these methods aid in their development on the way to independent strolling, but they’ll also help strengthen the bonds between you and your child.

Above article is brought to you by 28DayMum!

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