Many queries involve the “right time” for babies to start doing anything, but there’s no fixed answer to any of these well-intentioned enquiries. That’s why we’ll explore the issue of babies finding their feet today in general terms. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to any milestone in the first year of life.
We’ll also touch upon how babies learn to walk, and how you can help them take those first (hopefully well-documented) photo-worthy steps. No doubt the grandparents would love a gift such as a photo of their grandchild mid-stride.
When Is It Normal For a Baby To Start Walking?
As a rule of thumb, babies start taking their first tentative steps between nine and twelve months, but there’s definitely no certain time or reason to panic if your bundle of joy isn’t quite mobile by this stage. Don’t resort to comparing them to their over-achieving peers, either.
After those initial stumbling steps, it doesn’t take most babies long to fully find their feet. By fourteen or fifteen months, you can expect to see your little one walking around with more confidence.
That said, many completely normal, healthy babies don’t start walking until they’re at least eighteen months old—so don’t panic. Every baby is different, and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about if they don’t fit into these general guidelines.
Standing normally takes place around nine months. From this point, your baby will continue to master the art of sitting, crawling and rolling, before taking confidently to their feet.
Once they are tottering around, it’s simply a case of practice. Slowly, but surely, they hone balancing and coordination skills as they go.
How do babies learn to walk in the first place, then?
How Babies Learn To Walk
Once your baby reaches the age of six months, his or her legs would have begun strengthening. If you balance their feet on top of your thighs, they’ll start to bounce around gleefully, stimulated by this new sensation.
Over the next few months, the leg muscles will continue to develop until, as we mentioned, they start to gradually, and naturally, stand around the nine-month point. At this stage, your baby’s legs will still be weak, and their sense of balance pretty poor. Support from pieces of furniture, or the hand of a watchful parent, is essential.
Subsequent benchmarks happen over the next couple of months, as your baby learns to bend the knees. They’ll also learn how to sit after standing, a valuable skill in those early days when their leg muscles tire quickly.
As they reach their first birthdays, you’ll probably see your baby start to move from one piece of furniture to the next, occasionally breaking off and trying to walk unsupported. This early walking stage is known as cruising.
From there, the rate at which your baby masters the art of walking follows no fixed rules. If your toddler is still cruising after twelve months, or fourteen months, there’s absolutely no need to worry about it.
How can you give your baby a helping hand and encourage them to walk more effectively?
How You Can Help Your Baby To Walk
In many ways, simply sitting back and watching your baby walk is the best way for them to, quite literally, find their feet in their own time. They may be a bit frustrated and cry about that or they may find it entertaining.
If you’re feeling impatient, try placing a favourite toy, just out of reach, to encourage them to become a little more adventurous.
Once your toddler is deep into the cruising stage, quite happily tottering from chair to couch to table, you can directly call to them as they are moving around. They might instinctively let go of the furniture and try moving towards you.
If you try walking or standing in front of your baby with outstretched hands, this will give her the impetus to move onward, in search of a hug.
Encouraging your toddler to use larger push-along toys or a baby walker, for support, is another option to inject an element of fun into an activity that’s already engaging them on so many levels.
Remember, babyproofing is wise, but it is essential once your little one starts to take those first few steps. Make sure everything is soft and safe and never leave your toddler unattended. Embrace those precious moments and keep your camera handy to capture them!