After your baby’s first words, walking is arguably the next most important milestone in your baby’s journey to independence. So, I understand if you just can’t wait to see those first steps. There is no particular formula to walking or a defined baby walking age. That your first child started walking at 10 months does not mean that something is wrong with your other child who at 13 months has not taken a single step.
Each child will walk when they are ready and not before. It is, however, important that you know the signs that your baby will walk soon and how to make the process smoother for them. That is the aim of this post.
How Do You Know Your Baby Is Ready To Walk?
If you think there is a particular formula to determine if your baby will start walking soon, please go back and read the introduction. But there is anecdotal information that if you tip your child such that the head is going downward while you hold them, you can glean something about their readiness. It has been reported that for children preparing to walk soon, their hands will go forward to break their fall.
Baby First Steps – How can I help my baby learn to walk?
As parents, we are always out to make life as easy as possible for our children. For each stage of your baby’s development that leads to walking, there are things you can do to encourage and increase their confidence. In case you are asking, what stages I’m referring to, they are:
- Pulling up
- Walking with help
- Standing by themselves
Sitting is the first step towards walking. When your baby can sit on their own, without the need for cushions or a Boppy, the muscles needed to stand are developed. Independent sitting can occur anywhere from 4-7 months. Help your child by playing stacking games to build those little muscles.
Crawling takes place from the age of seven months to ten months. Encourage your baby to move his arms and legs at the same time during this stage. To assist, clear enough space in your living room and have Baby crawl from one side of the room to another giving out praise for each successful trip.
The next thing you see Baby start to do is pull himself up with the aid of any solid furniture or older people’s legs. Do assist your child in getting up and show how to bend the knees for the baby to get back down to the floor. Doing this will help to ease the inevitable fall when the baby starts his first tentative steps. On the average babies by the age of 8 months will start pulling up.
Walking with help should be initiated by you as your child learns to pull herself up. Help him take steps as he holds on to your hands. As much as you can, practice. As your baby gets used to being on his feet, the more his confidence grows.
Cruising means your baby is getting around on her own by using walls and furniture as props. You should encourage your child to let go of the support but make sure there is a soft landing spot available. Cruising takes place on the average at age 8 to 9 months.
By the time your baby can stand without help, even if it is for 5 seconds, he will soon want to take a step. You can help your Baby stand up and count how long he can before tumbling. It takes courage to stand after a fall so lace each attempt with genuine praise.
What About Walkers?
That is a big NO! Walkers used to be thought of as important in getting babies to take that first step. Not anymore. The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out to say that it is dangerous. Babies can get injured when a walker tips over stairs or even the toilet bowl.
But most important is the view that it may slow developmental process in babies. In a study done by researchers at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, babies that used walkers scored lower on the standard scales of both mental and motor development than non-walker babies.
While a walker will strengthen your baby’s lower legs, the upper legs and hips are left weak. And when it comes to walking, it is the upper legs and hips that count the most.
You can, however, get a push toy for your baby. A small-sized lawn mower or a tiny shopping cart will give your child both freedom and control. As she pushes it, the legs get a good workout while the toy supports her balance. Make sure the toy is sturdy and the bar edges are not sharp.
That First Step!
All that we have discussed is to lead us to this moment – that first step you baby takes independently. You may want to get out the video camera and record this milestone. Cheer your baby on as she takes her first steps and begins to walk on her own.
Let your child walk barefoot within the house. The best shoes at this stage are no shoes. This will help in building the muscle tone in her feet and ankles. It will also help the natural arches in the feet develop and improve balance and coordination. If your baby is to step outside, use lightweight shoes.
Capping It All: Remember This Is A Journey With No Definitive Map
Do not get anxious if your child starts walking and then stops for a while. Babies sometimes take breaks from walking to concentrate on something else. A big fall or illness may also erode your child confidence so do not be surprised if such a child goes back to crawling.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no formula to walking. A child may be fast, or slow. Some children go from sitting to pulling themselves up without crawling. Whatever your child does, accept that as your own normal. All you can do is to provide a safe and loving environment for your child to thrive. And of course, encourage and praise each step of progress.