For babies, learning to walk is a big step (literally) towards independence. In the early stages of life, your baby has become accustomed to relying on you to move around and achieve physical tasks. The ability to take a few steps on his own is a big achievement, that’s why this moment is very precious for any parent.
When it comes to developing the strength, balance and skill, each baby has his or her own pace. There’s no fixed age when a baby will surely start walking, but there are stages when he begins to develop physical aspects that will eventually lead to those historic first steps.
When can you expect the first steps?
During your baby's first 12 months, he will progressively develop coordination and muscle strength, and normally he will learn to sit, roll over, and crawl. Your baby will eventually learn to pull himself up and stand while holding on to something. This normally happens when he's between 6 months and 10 months old.
From that point on, progress will depend on your baby’s confidence and balance. Most babies take their first steps by their first birthday, and by the time they reach 15 months, most toddlers are able to walk without assistance despite unevenly. If your baby takes a little longer, don’t worry too much about it. Some children don't walk until they are 17 months or 18 months old.
How will your baby learn to walk?
From birth, your baby has the reflex to brace his legs against a surface he feels under his feet. If you hold your newborn upright on your lap while supporting his head, you'll feel him trying to exert effort in his legs. This is not an official attempt at walking; it's just his instincts kicking in. At this point, his legs aren't nearly solid enough for him to stand. This reflex will diminish after a couple of months.
When your baby is about 5 months old, if you let him balance his feet on your thighs, he'll most likely bounce up and down. Over the next couple of months, bouncing will be a favourite activity of his.
As soon as your baby learns to roll over, sit and crawl, his muscles will strengthen with consistency. Between 8 months and 10 months he will most likely start trying to pull himself up to stand while holding on to furniture. If you prop him up next to the sofa, he'll hang on for balance and support. Once your baby is ready to let go of the furniture, he may be able to take steps when you hold his hand, and he may even stoop to pick up a toy.
At 9 months or 10 months your baby will begin to discover how to bend his knees and learn to sit after standing. By 11 months your baby will be able to stand completely without support, and will also be able to stoop and squat. By 12 months he may walk while gripping your hand, though he may not take his first steps alone for a little while longer. At 13 months, your baby may be walking on his own, but perhaps a bit wobblingly. If your baby still hasn't stopped cruising, it just means walking on his own is going to take a little longer, which is not totally a problem you should worry about.
How can you help?
As your baby acquires the ability to stand, he may need some assistance working out how to get back down again. If he gets stuck and cries for you, don't just pick him up and plop him down. Instead, show him how to bend his knees so he can sit down without toppling over, and give him the opportunity to try it on his own.
You can motivate your baby to walk by standing or kneeling in front of him, holding both his hands as you help him walk towards you. You could also buy him a toddle truck or a comparable toy that he can hold on to and push.
Make certain that your baby will have a safe environment in which to practise walking. Keeping the floor space clear will help him to walk around without any dangers. Child-proof your home as much as possible, and never leave your baby alone in a room while he’s trying to take steps on his own.
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