One of the most important and exciting milestones for parents is when their baby starts walking. Usually, before babies take the first step, they sit, crawl, rollover, and start pulling up to stand with support. Parents often look for such signs to know when their baby will take their first step. However, there is no single timeline or fixed signs that fit all babies.
So, when do babies start walking? Read this post to know about this significant moment.
When Do Babies Start Walking?
Most babies begin to walk with support at the age of 12 months, that is, around their first birthday (1). Walking while holding furniture, wall, or any other support object is known as cruising. Some babies may take a few steps alone without any support while cruising.
There is constant progress in the baby’s walking skills from the age of 12 months. By the age of 18 months, most babies can walk alone without any support. Some babies may run for a short distance or climb stairs with support. The timeline may vary among babies.
Signs That The Baby Will Walk Soon
Babies do not start walking overnight. They begin with gradual steps and smaller physical development milestones that ultimately lead to walking. The following are various developmental achievements that pave the path to walking in babies (2).
- Pulling up to stand: This is one of the first signs that indicate your baby’s readiness to walk. It will look like they are doing multiple squats, but they are actually building their muscles and coordination.
- Cruising along objects or furniture: If you see your baby trying to walk while holding onto objects or furniture, it means they are cruising around. Cruising is a significant indicator of improved muscle strength and body balance. Your baby will learn to balance their weight on each foot while cruising.
- Walking with a little help: The baby may try to walk or take steps while holding your hands. If your baby has push toys, pushing carts, or musical walking toys and is trying to make them move, then it may also be a sign of their intent to walk.
- Making way through objects (obstacles): When your baby tries to overcome objects by going over them or trying to find a way around them, then it shows their eagerness to take their first steps.
- Trying to climb stairs: If your baby repeatedly tries to hold the spindles of a staircase to haul himself/herself and walk a step, then it could indicate they will soon take their first steps.
The signs of readiness to walk may vary in babies. Parents can be observant of the movements their baby does most often. Some babies may begin to cruise and gradually walk without displaying any discernible signs of readiness.
How Do Babies Learn To Walk?
Babies learn to walk over a period during which they achieve various little milestones. Let us discuss these in detail (1).
- Three to four months: The baby will develop head control and learn to push up while lying on the stomach.
- Three to six months: Your baby will try to roll from front to back and subsequently learn to do the other way round, i.e., from back to front within a month or few more weeks.
- Four to nine months: As the baby develops a stronger core, sitting without support while balancing their weight and head will be the next significant development.
- Six to eleven months: By this time, you may notice some awkward movements of your baby on the floor, such as pushing their feet or pulling their body with the support of their hands. They are starting to scoot or creep.
- Eight to eleven months: Once your baby is able to sit without support, getting on the feet will be their next milestone. Your baby tries to get on the feet while pulling themselves up.
- Six to thirteen months: Your baby may crawl around this age. However, some babies never crawl or crawl differently and may just roll, scoot, or creep before taking their first step. In addition, by this time, some babies may also start walking with assistance while holding hands, or cruising along objects or furniture.
- Six to fourteen months: As babies develop more motor skills and balance, they start to stand on their own for a longer time. Some babies may stand by their first birthday or later, which is normal.
- Nine to eighteen months: Your baby may take their first steps as early as nine months or after their first birthday. However, before they start walking, you will get plenty of hints to watch out for.
How Can You Help Your Baby Walk?
Here are a few things that you can do to encourage and motivate your baby to walk.
- Hold hands: Try to make your baby stand upright by holding their hands as they try to get up. Be near them or around them; this will give them the confidence to explore and feel safe.
- Provide baby-safe support: Place heavy furniture, which will not topple when your baby uses them for support. It will also encourage the baby to pull up to stand often.
- Motivate with toys and words: Let your baby stand while holding your hand and let your partner call out to them. Encourage your baby to walk and seek out the source of the voice. Use a toy to motivate your baby to cruise and reach out for it. By the age of 18 months, babies can pull toys while walking. Therefore, provide them with age-appropriate string toys.
- Skip the shoes initially: Initially, let your child walk bare feet. Let them build balance and natural gait. You may use shoes once it is safe to do so. However, when you are outside, use shoes with flexible rubber soles to protect your baby’s feet and give appropriate support.
- Avoid using walkers: Do not make your baby reliant on walkers. Encourage them to stand on their own and take their steps. Also, baby walkers are not safe and may increase the risk of injuries through falls.
- Make your house safe: Once your baby starts to move around, make sure you keep the floor and the house free of potential hazards. Place all sharp objects, medicines, and other related compounds away from the baby’s reach.
What To Do If Your Baby Doesn’t Walk?
Some babies may take more time than their peers to begin walking. If your baby is healthy, growing properly, and has achieved all their previous developmental milestones, then there is nothing to worry. If your baby learned to crawl and stand later than usual, then give some time for them to develop their walking skill. Speak to your baby’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Since walking is a gradual process, it is essential to spot developmental delays at various ages. See a pediatrician if your baby displays the following signs.
- Does not bear weight on their legs when held, by the age of nine months.
- Unable to crawl and stand with support by 12 months.
- Does not walk or shows no effort to walk by 18 months.
- Walks in a wobbly way without steadiness even by the age of 24 months.
What Comes After Babies Start Walking?
By the age of 24 months, most toddlers can walk without support, walk up and down the stairs with support, climb over furniture, and run. Once your toddler is three years old, their walking skills are well developed. A three-year-old can run, walk up the stairs with one foot per step, and can climb and hold railings or climbing bars (3).
Learning to walk is one of the major achievements for both the parents and the baby. As the baby’s mobility increases, so does their ability to explore and learn new things. Some babies may learn to walk early, while others may take time. A delay in attaining developmental milestones does not always indicate a problem. Speak to a pediatrician if you have any concerns regarding your child’s development.
2. Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months; Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh
3. Your child’s development; Canadian Pediatric Society