As parents, we love watching our babies develop and learn about the world around them. New parents can be especially anxious to see their little one’s firsts. We like knowing our baby is growing and healthy, according to common standards.
Fortunately, your baby can give you a heads up through the other milestones they hit. Look at the common signs your baby is ready to walk and how to encourage that first wobbly step.
When Will My Baby Start Walking?
One of the biggest and most exciting parts of your little one’s life is when they take their first steps. There’s nothing like watching your baby excitedly toddling towards you.
As with any developmental milestone, there isn’t a hard and fast age where you can expect to see your baby walking. Rather, there are loose guidelines for when a baby typically begins to walk.
Walking is one of those milestones where babies will either go for it or wait until they feel confident they can do it. Usually, babies will begin to walk around 12 months. Daring babies can start walking around nine months, while more cautious babies might wait until 18 months.
It really depends on when your little one is ready. Babies need time to develop and strengthen their muscles. There are other milestones in there that they may be working on too.
Should I Be Concerned if My Baby Isn’t Walking by 12 Months?
If your little one hasn’t started walking by their first birthday, it isn’t a cause for concern. Some babies may be more focused on developing verbal skills. Others may take a more laidback approach to walking.
If your baby is content sitting and watching the world around them, they may not have the motivation to try something new just yet. A lack of tummy time can also make it harder for your baby to develop the muscle strength necessary for hitting that walking milestone.
If you or your partner were late walkers, your baby might be more likely to take their time, too. The reverse might also be true. If you or your partner were quick to start walking, your baby could follow in your (or your partner’s) footsteps.
Remember, your baby is still learning and growing. Baby development doesn’t end once your pregnancy is over. Although it seems like your baby grew fast, it still takes time, patience, and a big dose of loving encouragement.
When Should I Talk to a Doctor?
If something feels off about your baby’s motor development, the best way to help your baby is to talk to your child’s doctor. It isn’t usually necessary to speak with the doctor if your baby isn’t walking during their first year.
But, if you already have other concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to a pediatrician to get some answers.
If your baby isn’t walking after 18 months, speak with your baby’s doctor. They may have some advice on how to encourage them to walk, or they can help you figure out what might be preventing your baby from learning to walk.
Another reason to talk to the pediatrician is if your baby is having many difficulties walking. Although there will be many tumbles, and your baby’s walk might be a little wonky, a developmental delay should be reported to your pediatrician.
If your baby has stiff legs, can’t flatten their feet, stumble to one side, or favors one side, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Catching these potential problems sooner rather than later can help get your baby back on the right path.
We know that you want to keep your little one happy and safe. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it doesn’t hurt to call your healthcare provider and ask for advice.
What Are the Signs That My Baby Is Ready To Walk?
Babies tend to focus more on either verbal or physical development. When your baby is getting ready to walk, you’ll know. They will show signs that they’re preparing to take their next big step.
Before your baby takes independent steps, they’ll need to meet other milestones. Babies crawl, then walk. But long before those things occur, a baby learns how to roll and sit up. These new skills help strengthen some of the muscles required to walk.
Many people will tell you that crawling comes first. Although this is an important milestone, some babies skip crawling altogether. They may prefer to scoot around while sitting or pull themselves across the floor. Babies move at their own pace and may surprise you with their walking skills.
The biggest sign that your baby is preparing to walk is when they pull themselves up to a standing position. They might also be able to stand up on their own without needing support. This helps a baby’s leg muscle gain the strength necessary to walk.
Another major sign that you’ll notice is your baby cruising. They’ll walk by holding onto a coffee table, couch, or another piece of furniture that’s the right height for them to totter around with a little help.
How Can I Encourage My Little One To Walk?
When you notice that your baby is starting to pull themselves up to a standing position, you might be looking for ways to encourage them to start walking. Praising their efforts is a great start, but there are other ways you can help.
The most important way to encourage your baby is by making sure they feel comfortable and at home. Babies who feel comfortable and safe are more likely to try new things and act with confidence. You can help by spending quality one-on-one time with your baby.
Sometimes having a goal or thing they want to get to can give babies that extra push they need to try walking. You can kneel in front of your little one and encourage them to walk around. This will also help them move around more and build up muscle.
Another way to help out is to hold your baby’s hands. That way, they can walk with some support but are learning to walk around without a couch or instead of cruising.
You can also help them cruise for longer periods by organizing stable furniture for them to walk along. Another great method for getting your baby to move is to place toys just out of reach to encourage your baby to try to grab them.
Baby-Proofing the Home
When your little one is getting ready to walk, you should baby-proof your home. If there’s one thing babies love to do, it’s explore. Walking gives babies the ability to access a lot more areas.
If you have stairs or other dangerous areas in your home, get a baby gate. It will prevent your little one from trying to go up or down the stairs on their own. You should also make sure they can’t reach any door handles.
Another key part of baby proofing is to lock up cabinets or other areas that contain cleaning products and other chemicals. Pots and pans should also be locked up or kept out of reach.
Finally, you might want to try to pad any sharp corners, in case your baby takes a tumble nearby.
Find toys that encourage your little one to walk and build those muscles. Consider a push toy with wheels large enough to keep it from tipping over. Toy lawn mowers or shopping carts are a great push toy for a baby on the move.
Don’t feel like you need to buy something, though — an item as simple as a laundry basket can work. All you need is something easy enough for your baby to push around.
Walkers, on the other hand, aren’t helpful. Although a walker can help your baby practice the movement of walking, the wheels and the support from the chair make it too easy for babies and won’t give them the type of developmental “workout” they need.
With a push toy, a baby has the support they’re looking for while learning to walk, but they still have to carry their own weight. It’s a great developmental aid.
Should I Get My Baby Shoes?
Although baby shoes are absolutely adorable, they aren’t very helpful for a baby who is learning to walk. When you’re inside, it’s better for your little one to walk around with bare feet or non-slip socks if you have slippery floors.
Walking without shoes allows babies to have a greater range of movement in their feet and ankles, which helps them to build muscle. Going barefoot also aids in the development of their arches, balance, and coordination.
When your baby is walking around outside, simple is better. The sneakers or boots might look cool, but they restrict movement and slow your little one down. Your baby's shoes should be flexible, light, and made for movement.
Looking to the Future
Waiting and watching for your baby’s first steps can be an exciting time. You and your little one are getting ready to move into a wonderful new phase.
Every stage of your baby’s life has its challenges. There are lots of things for every parent, whether experienced or not, to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and research what you need to know.
Although most babies start to walk around their first birthday, if your baby is a few months behind and working on verbal skills over their motor skills, it may not be anything to stress about. Speak with your pediatrician about your concerns.
You might also notice that your little one walked for a while but then went back to crawling. Usually, that means they’re focusing on something else they’re learning to do, like feeding themselves. It could also be because a fall scared them or they’ve been sick, which are also generally only temporary setbacks before they’re up and trying again.
Whatever the reason, continue to encourage your baby without pressuring them. With a little love and encouragement, you’ll be chasing down a quick runner in no time.
At The Mommy Care Kit, we’ll be with you every step of the way.
CDC’s Developmental Milestones | CDC
When Do Babies Start Walking? | Cleveland Clinic
When Do Babies Start Walking? Your Child's First Steps | whattoexpect.com