When Do Babies Start Walking?

As your child is growing up, there will be many moments you’ll remember forever, but one of the biggest milestones is his or her first steps. Walking is a sure sign your infant is developing well, so many parents wait for this moment anxiously. However, all babies are different and the time they start walking varies greatly. The ability to walk is affected by many factors, including balance, co-ordination, character, muscle strength and tone.

When Do Babies Start Walking?

Most babies begin to walk at 11 to 15 months, but it can start any time between 9 to 18 months. Infants are actually born with the muscle needed for walking, but do not yet have the strength. The "stepping reflex", placing one foot in front of the other, can be seen if you place a newborn baby on her feet.

At six months, the children can use their leg muscles for strength and their feet for balance, so they won’t topple over as long as there is some support. They are beginning to understand their spatial environment and have a sense of balance. Together with increased muscle strength, these abilities allow the babies to learn walking. But when do babies start walkingand how do you know they are ready?

Signs of Being Ready to Walk

  • Your children use stationary objects to reach a standing position.
  • When they are standing, they can shift their weight from side-to-side.
  • They can let go of objects and stand alone.
  • They can use their hands to help them climb stairs.

However, up to 1,000 hours practice is needed between being able to stand and walking for longer distances unassisted.

How Does Your Baby Learn to Walk?

1. Newborn to Two Months

Babies are born with a reflex to brace their legs whenever they feel anything beneath their feet. The newborn babies will try to use their legs when you hold them above your thighs. This reflex disappears after about two months.

2. Five to Ten Months

Now if you hold your little one above your knees, you’ll see her bounce up and down. Babies love bouncing and so many parents invest in a door bouncer, but try to limit bouncing time to three 15-minute sessions a day.

Babies’ muscles develop through activities such as rolling, sitting and crawling. After around eight months, they may try to stand up, using furniture as support. The next step is “cruising” – moving around holding onto furniture.

3. Nine Months to One Year

Babies are now learning to sit down by bending their knees. By 11 months, they can stoop, squat and stand without support. But exactly when do babies start walking? Well, one-year-olds are often able to walk with an adult holding their hands, but it may take longer for them to walk unassisted. Don’t get panic if your child can’t walk alone – some babies take up to 18 months.

Tips to Help Babies Start Walking

Ensure that the environment for walking practice is completely safe. Keep the floor clear and always be on-hand to help and to watch out for falls. You can encourage your child by:

  • Sitting a foot away holding her favorite toy, beckoning her
  • Holding a large exercise ball steady front of him and rolling it along slowly
  • Placing some weight onto a push toy, so your baby can hold onto it while she walks
  • Dressing your child in overalls and steadying him by gently pulling on the back
  • Allowing your infant to feel the floor with her feet and not dressing her in shoes
  • Getting your baby to grip a broomstick or pole you’re holding whilst you knee-walk backwards
  • Placing low furniture items a few feet apart, so he has to travel between the furniture instead of merely cruising
  • Not allowing more than 15 minutes at a time in exersaucers, walkers or jumpers, as they encourage toe-walking

When Should You Be Concerned and When Should Not?

  1. If you are wondering “when do babies start walking” and your child hasn’t started walking by the time she is 18 months, speak to your doctor.
  2. Remember that if she was bottom shuffling before she started crawling, she may take longer to walk.
  3. Walking ability is somewhat genetically inherited, so if you or your partner took a while, chances are your baby will too.
  4. Babies born before 37 weeks’ gestation often take longer than other infants to take their first steps.
  5. You may be worried if your child’s feet turn inwards or outwards when she walks. However, this is normally corrected by the time she’s three. If it’s still a problem and is causing falls, speak to a doctor.
  6. Walking on tip-toes is fairly common and is not normally a concern. However, it may be an issue if your baby cannot flatten his feet on the floor or it is painful to do so, as he may have tightened heel cords.
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