When do babies start to walk? Stages of learning to walk

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Babies, on average, start walking around their first birthday. However, the age at which they take their first steps can vary. They usually go through the steps of crawl, crawl, walk, pull, and cross before they can walk.

Some babies crawl or crawl before they walk, while others never either. Others walk very early in the second half of their first year, while others take much longer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list walking as a developmental milestone for 18 months. The agency also lists taking a few steps as a milestone for 15 months.

The researchers have no correlation found between early walking and other developmental outcomes or skills. Therefore, reaching these milestones later does not necessarily mean that an infant will have developmental problems. However, there is can be an initial increase in the number of words a baby can use as they begin to walk.

Read on to learn about the typical walking schedule, stages of learning to walk, tips, and more.

On average, children walk between 12 and 18 months. Some may walk a little earlier, while others may walk as early as 7 months.

In a older study from 2013 involving 48,151 children, the researchers used data from a Norwegian cohort study and a smaller data source. They found the following:

  • 25% of children were walking at 12 months
  • 50% were walking at 13 months
  • 75% walked at 14 months

Children who crawled on their hands and knees walked an average of 0.9 months earlier than those who crawled on their buttocks.

Learning to walk is the culmination of months of motor skill development. Babies need to be able to support their own weight, balance on their own, coordinate their movements, control their upper body, etc.

For this reason, many infants develop several skills before learning to walk. These include:

  • Crawling: This is a pre-exploratory strategy. Babies can roll on their tummy, roll or crawl forward without getting on their hands and knees. Some may develop this technique into a military front crawl, moving their arms and legs in coordination with their belly on the floor.
  • Crawling: The exploration can last for months, a few days or not at all. The classic crawling position has the baby’s tummy on the floor while standing on the hands and knees, although some adopt a different crawling style.
  • Step by step : As infants build upper body strength, they can take a few steps while a parent or caregiver supports them. For example, a parent or caregiver can hold the baby’s torso or hands while he walks.
  • Tie rod: As they gain upper body strength, infants may begin to pull at large objects or people. They will use these objects to stand and will sometimes be able to take a few steps while supporting their weight.
  • Cruise : Cruising occurs when infants pull on objects and begin to use them to support their weight as they walk. Some can fast travel using this strategy and move around an entire room while grabbing items. It is important to ensure that heavy furniture is secured so that children do not pull it over themselves.
  • While walking: Usually begins after a child has gone through the previous stages of development. However, some skip different stages on the way to walking.

A child can be ready to walk if they:

  • have excellent head and upper body control
  • can coordinate their movements
  • are able to stand
  • started to navigate or walk by pulling on objects
  • take action when a parent or caregiver helps or supports them
  • seem very interested in practicing walking

A study 2021 found that the best predictor of a child’s skill as a walker is the time elapsed since they started walking. However, other factors also improved walking abilities.

Less crowded homes allowed for more walking practice, supporting developing walkers. This allows infants to practice walking in a comfortable environment.

Infants also had stronger walking skills when they had more spontaneous walking and when a smaller percentage of their walking episodes were short.

Parents can help by:

  • encourage but do not force the march
  • clap when a child falls and gets up
  • provide a safe environment, including a surface that is safe to fall on
  • encourage children to participate in physical play
  • give kids something interesting to walk or crawl on

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, going barefoot helps infants and toddlers develop strong, healthy feet. Walking barefoot can encourage children to walk properly and help their muscles develop properly.

Above all, children who cannot walk do not need shoes. Once infants or toddlers start walking, they don’t need to wear shoes on safe, familiar indoor surfaces. However, they should wear shoes outside or in areas where there may be potential hazards.

Parents or caregivers can introduce shoes by making wearing them a fun game and making sure they fit properly.

A shoe store can help parents find the right shoe size. Shoes should not pinch or leave marks. Also, people should not force children to wear shoes all day or longer than necessary for their safety.

A parent or caregiver should contact a doctor if a child:

  • has feet that look atypical or seem to cause them pain
  • fails to meet development milestones
  • limps, stumbles frequently, or seems to have more difficulty keeping balance and walking than other children their age
  • develops skills but then loses them

Many parents and caregivers are eager to take the step forward, while others worry about the safety risks it presents. Providing a safe and engaging environment can help a child master walking and other early developmental skills.

If a child seems to have difficulty learning basic skills, people can contact a pediatrician for advice. It is important to note that infants learn to walk at different ages.

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