No joy in the world compares to when your baby starts walking for the first time. Those little steps are nothing short of a milestone that parents remember for their entire lives.
If your baby is an adorable crawler and you're expecting them to start walking any day now, it's time to pay attention to their progress and help nurture your baby’s natural development. But how do you do that without making any mistakes? We're here to help!
Read on for some essential and effective tips on how to help your baby in learning to walk, what to expect as they start walking, and much more!
When Do Babies Start Walking On Their Own?
Most babies start walking on their own when they're around 11-14 months old, right after or near their first birthdays. However, you should remember that every baby is different. And if yours doesn't achieve this milestone by this time, you shouldn't be too worried.
But when do babies walk for the very first time? Your baby’s first steps may come when they're around 9-10 months old. But they'll likely to use some sort of support to stand up or walk during this time.
The timing of your baby's first steps depends on a lot of factors. One of the main ones is genetics. If you or your spouse were early or late walkers, your baby might be too.
Also, this timing depends heavily on your baby's temperament. Some babies are very active and start crawling and walking very early. At the same time, others are quieter and like to sit and play more, so they might not begin to walk for quite a while.
Moreover, some babies like to be extra careful before taking their first steps and won't do so unless they're absolutely confident of not falling. On the other hand, others don't mind the risk one bit.
Another vital piece of information you should keep in mind is that premature babies start walking later than their normal counterparts. Preemies might not take independent steps until they're 18 months old or more. So if your preemie baby doesn't start walking by the time they're 14 months old, do not panic.
For other babies, you should wait to see if they're walking independently by the time they're 18 months old. If not, it might be a good idea to contact a pediatrician.
What are the Stages of Learning How to Walk?
Before you learn how to encourage a baby to walk, you should know about the different stages of walking. Typically, babies go through the following stages of walking:
Sitting Up Independently
This is the first stage that shows growing muscle strength in babies. At around six months, most babies will be able to sit up without any back support.
Between 7-10 months, most babies start to crawl around on their hands and knees. If your baby has not started crawling yet, you might want to look up some tips to help your baby crawl.
Next comes the stage of creeping. When they're around nine months old, babies typically start to pull themselves to stand with the help of furniture or sturdy support. During this time, the upper body strength of your baby is more than their leg strength.
Scooting can occurs around the same time as creeping or just a little later. This is when your baby starts to drag themselves around on their butt by using their hands or arms.
This is the final stage that comes before independent walking. At this stage, babies use furniture to stand and take a few steps. They might also hold onto you or use their moving toys for cruising around and exploring their space.
While these are the typically expected stages of walking, each child is different and learns differently. Your baby might skip out on one or more of these. Moreover, they might even begin these stages earlier or later than indicated above. In either case, you shouldn't fret.
Signs That Your Child is Almost Ready to Walk
If your baby has completed one or more of the above-mentioned stages of walking, they might be ready to walk soon. Here are some additional signs you should be on the lookout for
1. Starting to Take Risks
If you see your baby standing without support, even at heights, it's a sign that their confidence is growing. This development in confidence is crucial to walking independently because the more willing they are to take risks, the quicker they'll start walking independently.
2. Changing Sleep Schedule or Being Fussy
Walking is a significant physical and developmental change in your baby. It is often accompanied by many other mental and emotional changes. These changes, together, may take a toll on your baby's brain and make them fussy.
Moreover, their sleep schedule might also be impacted before they start walking. Don't be alarmed if you see your baby staying awake at their usual sleeping time when they're going through one or more stages of walking.
As a parent, you might find a fussy baby worrisome. But remember that it's only a normal developmental process, and everything will be fine soon.
3. Pushing Things Forward And Walking Along
If your baby has started playing with items that move forward on wheels or otherwise and is walking with them, it might be a sign that they're going to walk independently soon.
This is a great time to stand behind them, holding their hands for support while they trot ahead.
Tips To Encourage Your Child To Walk
Now that you know the primary signs that a baby might display before they walk and all the stages of walking, it's time to learn how to encourage the baby to walk unaided. Take a moment to read the following tips and make sure your child follows them.
1. Encourage Them To Play While Standing
In their initial years, babies play with toys while lying down or sitting. But now that it's time to teach them to walk and balance themselves independently, you need to promote more time standing up.
To do this, you should place their toys at an elevated surface but not too high. A coffee table, an ottoman, a couch, etc., are good options. Encourage them to stand up and grab their toys from these heights.
Once they've stood up with the help of such furniture, hold their toys above their head on one side. Doing this will encourage them to use one hand for support and the other for grabbing their toy. This way, they'll learn to support themselves independently quicker.
2. Say Goodbye To Strollers, Carriers, And Swings
Objects like carriers, strollers, and swings all require your baby to sit down and play. This is fine when they're younger. But once they're closer to independent walking, it's time to bid these objects farewell.
Instead of these, give your child the kind of toys that encourage walking. The ones that promote more time standing up and pushing forward are ideal. A mini lawnmower or shopping cart are some options. However, ensure that any push toys you give them have a firm base and a robust handle to prevent accidents.
Your baby might miss the presence of swings and strollers at first, making them upset. However, they'll soon adapt to their new environment and start standing up and cruising around more often.
3. Babyproof Your Space
This isn't exactly a tip on how to help a baby walk, but it's an important safety measure that'll indirectly encourage walking.
Babyproofing your furniture and almost all rooms of your house is crucial to prevent your baby from injuring themselves as they're starting to stand or cruise. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Ensure that your floor isn't filled with toys or items that could make your toddler trip. If they often trip while trying to cruise, they might be discouraged from trying to walk out of fear of injury.
- If your house has anything that could break from impact, place them high above your baby's reach. Things such as vases, pots, and decorative items are some examples.
- Cover all electric outlets with safety caps. As your baby cruises, they might hold onto exposed sockets or try to play with them. If these are not covered, they could cause severe electric shocks.
- If any electrical cords are exposed or extended freely in your house, cover and hide them. Your baby might pull on them while trying to stand up, damaging them and risking their safety.
- Use some cushioned covers over the sharp corners of your furniture. Your coffee table, couch corners, TV table corners, and bed corners must be covered.
- Placing some soft play mats for babies is another great way to protect your little one from injury. There are several excellent foam and linen playmats in Australia that you can place at the bottom of stairs or in some rooms to protect your child from serious injuries. You can also put them beneath couches such that they stick outside.
If your baby falls off the couch while trying to stand, these will protect them. You can choose Ludere kids playmats. These are made of high-quality TPU foam or Linen and are exceptionally comfortable, making them one of the best foam playmats for babies.
Even after doing all this, ensure that you're fully vigilant as your toddler is taking their little steps for the first time. Taking all these measures will protect them from injury and build their confidence in walking and make them feel more at ease.
My Baby Doesn't Walk - What Should I Do?
It's natural to worry if your baby doesn't start walking by the time they're 14 months old. However, you should keep in mind what's mentioned earlier. Each baby is different, and the times at which they start walking can also vary widely.
Some toddlers start walking very early, while others may take more than 16 months to walk independently. If your child is also not walking when they're 14 months old, you should be on the lookout for some things.
Firstly, monitor your baby's progress in other aspects. Are their motor skills apart from walking progressing the right way? Are they crawling, standing, and pulling themselves up? If yes, you probably don't have a reason to worry. Walking a little late is always fine as long as they're developing their essential motor skills.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier, if your child is a preemie, late walking is expected. So you shouldn't worry if they don't start walking even once they're 18 months old. For these children, the development of other motor skills is also slower. So you shouldn't worry if you don't see them pulling themselves up or trying to stand and cruise at the right time.
You should also pay attention to any deformities their feet or legs might have. Some examples are bowed legs, toes pointing out, curvy feet, etc. If you find any, contact a doctor immediately.
Some babies might go back to crawling after walking independently for some time. This often happens because of sickness or injury while falling. It might be a good idea to consult your doctor even in this case, especially if the baby doesn't start walking again soon.
Aside from everything, if your baby's motor skills aren't developing by the time they're 18 months old, and they're neither premature nor have any deformities, you should get in touch with your paediatrician.
Parenting is challenging in many ways, and learning how to help a baby walk independently is one of the most difficult. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be better prepared to help your little one take their first precious steps.
Moreover, now that you're better informed about the different stages of walking, what you can expect as your baby inches closer to walking, and what to do when your baby doesn't walk by the time they're 14 months old, you will be able to take better care of them.
Don’t forget to check out our collection of Linen play mats and TPU foam mats for your home. We have a wide variety of options to choose from on our website.