Your baby learning to walk can be some of the most exciting and memorable moments of parenthood. From a very young age, your baby strengthens their muscles, slowly preparing to take their first steps. Usually between 6 and 13 months, your baby will crawl. Between 9 and 12 months, they’ll pull themselves up. And between 8 and 18 months, they’ll walk for the first time.
How Babies Develop Walking Skills
Your baby will develop many skills, including balance, coordination, standing up and supporting their body weight from one leg to the other. Each new skill will build upon the previous skills, making them more prepared to start walking.
Watching your baby take their first steps on their own is an experience you'll never forget. When your baby does start walking, it happens in stages, which include these big milestones:
6 months. Babies start to sit up on their own.
6-9 months. Babies start crawling.
9 months. Babies begin to pull themselves up on furniture like the couch or coffee table, so they can stand.
9-12 months. Babies may start to stand up, hold onto furniture and explore the room.
11-13 months. During this exciting time, you can expect to see your baby start to walk on their own.
Keep in mind that each baby is different and may start walking earlier or later than when the experts deem is "normal". There can be a lot of variation among children's development, and that's totally normal.
If your baby is 18 months or older and hasn’t started walking yet, or if you’re concerned about your child’s development, contact your pediatrician. Watch out for these warning signs of late walkers:
- Your baby doesn't roll over in either direction or sit with help
- Your baby doesn't support some weight on legs
- Your baby doesn't try to attract your attention through their actions
- Your baby doesn’t try to talk or babble
- Your baby shows no interest in games of peekaboo
Ways to Help Your Baby Start Walking
To help your baby start walking, you can try the following tips:
Play together. When you’re around your baby, you can help them feel safer during playtime. That way, they're more comfortable exploring and have higher confidence.
Encourage moving. Moving around helps your baby build their muscles, which will help them when they start walking and eventually running. You can do this by kneeling in front of your baby, holding out your hands and encouraging them to come to you.
While toddlers are beginning to walk, it's normal for them to take a few spills, that's just a part of learning. While you can't save your baby from every fall, you can reduce the chance of injury.
You can help them by "baby-proofing" your home by making their space as safe as possible:
- Put locks on doors and cabinets to help keep your baby away from unsafe items like chemicals
- Pad sharp corners of furniture
- Install a child-proof gate to prevent your baby from going down the stairs
- Keep items like pots and pans on the back of your stovetop
Baby Products for Walking
Baby walkers. Medical professionals do not recommend using baby walkers. Because a walker makes it easy for your baby to get around, your baby’s leg muscles may not develop properly. Also, when a baby is propped up on a baby walker, it can be easier for them to get into things they normally wouldn’t be able to reach, like hot items or poisons that could be dangerous. This makes baby walkers even less safe.
Baby shoes. Hold off on buying baby shoes right away. Walking barefoot helps your child to develop improved balance and coordination. Wait until they start walking outside regularly until you introduce them to baby shoes.
What’s Next After Your Baby Starts Walking?
Your baby's first steps are only the beginning of an exciting new phase in their life. Here's what else you can expect as they become a toddler:
- 14 months: At this age, your toddler will likely be able to stand on their own, squat, stand back up, and maybe even walk backwards.
- 15 months: Your child will be pretty good at walking and will likely enjoy push-and-pull toys and exploring new things.
- 16 months: Your baby will start to show an interest in going up and down the stairs, although they will likely still look to you for help with this one.
- 18 months: By 18 months, your child will probably have the walking thing down and enjoy moving around on their own. They’ll probably enjoy climbing on furniture and dancing to music, too.
As your child gains more confidence and independence, it opens up all kinds of new opportunities. It’s an exciting time, so don't forget to enjoy it.