When Will My Baby Walk?
The moment your baby begins to walk is the beginning of some independence for you both. This milestone is a key part of a baby's development and it is both mental and physical ability that will determine when your baby is ready to take their first steps.
The physical developments that will enable your baby to walk take place virtually from the day they are born. As soon as your baby is able to support their own head, you will find that they will stand on your lap with you holding their hands. This is the beginning of the development of their leg muscles.
As their muscles develop your baby will gradually learn how to roll over, followed by sitting up, at first with help or support, but then unaided. Once your baby has mastered these skills, they will usually be keen to start getting around and a lot of babies start to do this by rolling over and over to where they want to go. When they are able to do this they will usually start to crawl by moving around on their hands and knees. This then leads to using furniture or people to pull themselves up, to standing on their own feet.
None of these developments happen in isolation or in quick succession and it is not uncommon for children who are pulling themselves up to still be crawling or even for children who are walking to still crawl every now and again, particularly in the early stages.
Amazingly, all of this development generally takes place by the time your child is nine months old. However, making the transition from pulling themselves up to then walking unaided happens at different rates depending on the child. Once they are able to pull themselves up, they will then begin 'cruising', using furniture or other objects to hang onto as they begin to take some tentative steps. At the same time you may find your child develops the ability to stand unaided.
When Will Walking Happen?
Once your child has mastered 'cruising', you would imagine that walking would come quite quickly. However, a lot of children can remain at this stage for a while until they develop the confidence they need to let go and walk without holding onto anything.For most children, the ability to walk comes between nine and 18 months and most are walking by their first birthday. There are some things you can look for to make sure your child is on track to meet this developmental milestone. As long as your child is getting themselves around somehow, using arms and legs together, walking will almost certainly follow. However, around their first birthday, if your child is not managing to get themselves around at all, it is best to get some advice from your GP or health visitor.
The thing to be aware of is that all children are different and will do different things at different rates. Some babies skip the crawling stage and go straight to walking. You may be concerned at around nine to 12 months that your child is not crawling but might find they walk straight away at 13 months. The best thing to do is to keep track of their progress and as difficult as it might be, to try to avoid making comparisons with the progress of other children.
How You Can Help And Encourage Your Child To Walk
From an early age you can help your child's movement and muscle development to prepare them for taking those all important first steps. Whilst your baby is very young, try to encourage them to have some time on their tummy whilst they are awake. Most babies will not like it at first, but this position can help to develop back muscles required for walking. Encouraging your child to reach for objects from a sitting position will also help to develop important walking muscles.
Once your child is standing up, help them by holding their hands as they take some steps, even letting go of one hand, which will help to encourage their balance. Ensuring they have plenty of objects to hold onto whilst they are cruising is also important and your child will need to get used to landing on their bottom, which will happen the first few times they try to move without holding on. This can put some children off trying to walk, so it is important to encourage them to try again and offer lots of praise.
You will probably find that just as you think your child has mastered the art of walking, they decide to revert back to crawling. Children find learning to walk quite hard work, so if they want something quickly, they think that the best thing to do is to crawl for it. This is nothing to be concerned about and you may find they do a combination of crawling and walking for a while.
Whilst most children are able to walk by the age of 12 to 14 months, for some it takes a little longer (some children do not walk until they are 17 to 18 months), so there is no need to be concerned if your baby is not walking by this time. However, if you do have any concerns about your baby's walking development, it is a good idea to speak to your GP or health visitor for some advice.