Baby Development: Walking

Baby's first steps are one of the biggest milestones in your child's life. Learning to walk is a giant step towards independence. As he moves from standing on the sofa to taking his first wobbly steps into your open arms, running, jumping and bouncing with confidence, he's no longer a baby.

At what age does a baby start walking?

During the first year, your baby gradually acquires the coordination and muscles needed to sit up, turn and walk. crawlingbefore being able to pull himself up and stand on his own after about 8 months. From then on, it's all a question of self-confidence and balance. Most babies take their first steps between 9 and 12 months, and walk well between 14 and 15 months. Don't worry if your baby takes longer to walk. Many perfectly normal babies can't walk before 16 or 17 months.

How does a baby start walking?

In the first few weeks of life, when you hold your baby in your arms, his legs hang down and he pushes himself off the ground with his feet as if he were walking. But this is just a reflex that stops after two months, as his legs are not yet strong enough to hold him.

If you let your 5-month-old put his feet on your thighs, he'll jump. Jumping will be his favorite activity for the next two months, as his muscles continue to develop after rolling, sitting and crawling.

Around 8 months, your baby will try to pull himself up onto the furniture to hold onto it. If you support him against the sofa, he'll cling to it as if his life depended on it. As the weeks go by, he'll start to cling to the furniture. You can even let go and stand without support. Once he's done that, he may be able to take a few steps if you hold him, and even bend over to pick up a toy.

At 9 or 10 months, your baby will start to bend his knees and move from standing to sitting (which is harder than you might think!).

By 11 months, your child is probably able to stand, bend and squat on his own. He can even walk on your hands, but it will be a few weeks before he takes his first steps independently. Most children take their first steps on tiptoe, with their feet turned outwards.

By the age of 13 months, three quarters of children can walk on their own, although this is still uncertain. If your baby is still clinging to furniture, it will take a little longer before he can walk on his own. Some children can't walk until they're 16-17 months old, sometimes even later.

Next steps with baby

baby development walk

After these first magical steps towards autonomy, children begin to control their mobility more finely:

  • At 14 months, your toddler should be able to stand up on his own. He can bend over and stand up, and even try to walk backwards.
  • At 15 months, Your baby usually walks quite well and likes to push and pull toys while walking.
  • Around 16 months, your baby is starting to take an interest in stairs. He or she will want to go up and down them, but won't be able to do so alone for several months.
  • Most 18-month-olds already know how to walk well. Many of them climb stairs with help (and will still need help going down them for a few months). They like to climb on furniture. Your toddler will want to kick a ball, but maybe not always, or dance to music.
  • Around 25 or 26 months, Your child's steps are becoming more regular, and he's mastered the same movement as adults: first placing the heel and then the toes on the ground. His jumps have also improved.
  • When your baby reaches his third birthday, basic movements have become second nature to him. He will no longer have to exert himself to walk, stand, run or jump. However, other activities, such as standing on one foot or tiptoe, will continue to require concentration.

Your role as a parent in learning

When your child can stand up, he needs your help to return to a sitting position. If he gets stuck and calls out to you, don't just pick him up and put him back down. Simply show him how to bend his legs to sit without toppling over, and let him try for himself.

walking baby

You can encouraging your child to walk by holding his hand, standing or kneeling in front of him. You can also buy a cart or other walking toy large and stable enough for them to push. Trotters or youpalas are not recommended by experts. They believe they make movement too easy and prevent the child from developing his leg muscles properly. You can also wait to buy shoes until your child is walking outdoors or on cold or rough surfaces. Walking barefoot improves coordination and balance.

As always, make sure your child is in a safe and healthy environment. Never leave your child alone, as he may fall or need your help.

When should you worry about your child?

Some babies don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months old. The important thing is that his technique develops. If your little one is a little behind in rolling over and crawling, he probably needs a few more weeks or months to learn to walk. As long as he continues to learn new things, there's nothing to worry about.

Not all children develop in the same way. Some are faster than others. If yours seems to be lagging behind, talk to your doctor. Remember that premature babies take longer than others to reach important developmental milestones.

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