Babies are a wonderful gift for every parent, and they capture all the attention of their parents from the day first when they are born. In fact, parents start living with the newborn while taking care of all her needs, from feeding to making her smile with the preference of the baby’s wish and will.
The first year of baby’s life is full of excitement and developments, from playing with her hands to grabbing her feet into her mouth, from flipping to crawling all over the house. You are amused and excited with every moment you see in your baby. When your baby is close to her first birthday, you expect her to start walking and explore the adventure around her feet.
Your baby’s first walk is the most exciting and memorable moment in your baby’s life. Your baby takes almost a year to get prepared for this memorable event. From early days rolling, sitting with support, shuffling on the bottom, slithering, crawling, sitting on their own, cruising along with furniture, pulling herself up, and standing with falling, all these activities develop the gross motor skills in your baby. And they use the abdominal, thighs, and shoulder muscles to perform these activities.
The gross motor skills that include arm, shoulders, thigh, and leg muscles keep developing in the first year, bigger and stronger muscles as a result. Every moment in your bay develops and strengthens the relevant muscles and prepares the baby for the next phase. The rolling and tummy time develops the neck and trunk muscles. Sitting develops the abdominal and hip muscles, and standing upright develops the leg muscles that prepare your baby to walk.
What can you expect before your baby’s first flight?
Babies first walk is not an overnight phenomenon, but it’s a gradual process that starts from the day when your baby learns how to pull herself up to stand up. The curiosity of exploring the world starts from the day when your baby holds her head and starts watching the world around.
There are many phases that your baby pas through before walking on their feet. Babies start their motion from the age of 8 to 12. When your baby is on her stomach, she tries to arch her neck to look around. And on back, your baby tries to grab her feet into her mouth or anything that she found around. Her curiosity does not let her stay on her back for long, and she flips herself to look the attraction around. This flipping is more common during the diaper change.
Babies mostly master a new technique to explore the world in their seventh or eighth month, and that is the crawling technique. For this crawling, your baby uses her hands and knees since her upper body muscles are stronger than her lower body muscles. Earlier, she pushes herself backward, but over time she learns to propel her body in the forward direction to get the target of her choice.
Scooting or Slithering
There is no hard and fast rule for a baby’s growth, as few babies never crawl; instead, they master in scooting on their bottoms or slithering on their stomachs. At this age, the most important thing for your baby is to discover the world around her, and she uses her arms and legs, and other body parts to reach the target of their choice.
By this age, your baby learns to sit with support on a chair with a backrest and armrest. Earlier, she topples when you let her sit without any support, but she knows to protect herself with her arms when she overturns over time. The more the trunk muscles strengthen, the more she loves to sit and play.
When can your baby start walking?
Babies do not stay long crawling as they see everyone else walking around them, and they want to do the same. Babies pull themselves for the standing position whenever they get the chance; it’s preparing for the next phase. However, she does not know how to bend her knees when she first time stands. Crying is the most common tool babies use to ask your help as they do not know how to sit.
Once your baby learns to pull herself to stand, it’s the height of happiness both for baby and parents. Standing makes your baby more excited to reach their target, and here starts the walking phase. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this walking phase comes in your baby’s life when she is around 12 months, and her independent walk may start after her first. Although your baby starts first walk on her own timeline. In some cases, it is not unusual to start not later than 18 months and earlier as seven months.
Some parents are very anxious about their baby to start walking, but one thing makes sure that your baby will start walking at their own timetable, not yours. There are many ways you can help your baby to start walking; parent cheerful faces and clapping hands are the most motivational stuff for your baby to start the walk. The baby’s walk is an endless journey, and you can not focus on the finish line; just enjoy each step and celebrate her victory by helping in these ways.
What will help babies learn how to walk?
Practice and a lot of on-move time is the best help for your babies to learn how to walk. It encourages your baby to cruise and take the first step. Let your baby move freely and experience how her body adjusts with new moves. Here are few steps that can help your babies learn how to walk.
Do not rush your baby to walk
It’s the parents’ ultimate wish that their baby should learn to walk, but do not push until your baby is ready for that. It is not alarming if your one-year-old bay is not walking as most of the babies start walking by 15 months and some even later. On the other side, many babies start walking as early as 8 to 9 months. It all depends on the physical structure and bone development of your baby. The later your baby starts walking, the longer they get the time to develop their bones properly. That is why 9 to 18 months is absolutely normal for babies to learn to walk, so do not rush your baby into walking until they are ready for this phase.
While teaching your baby how to walk, do not push your baby to walk. Various signs show that your baby is ready for this phase, but it takes a long time to simultaneously perform an activity coordinated by the brain and body. So, try to meet your baby at their ability level while taking it to the next level of learning.
Provide a safe place for the babies walk
Before physically helping the baby learn how to walk, you need to set up space for your baby to easy and safe walking. First of all, clear the floor and remove things that can cause a tripping hazard for your baby. For the safety of the baby, move the fragile decoration items to somewhere else.
If you find it difficult to remove the things from the entire house, close the tricky rooms to create a safe space free from any danger or tripping hazard. This babyproofing can add confidence in both of you to achieve the milestone without facing any injury.
Build babies strong core muscles for walk
Your baby needs strong core muscles to support standing and walking, so you must help your baby to develop the lower body muscles to support her weight on her tiny feet. The same tricks that can attract your baby to crawl can also entice her to cruise. You can use some stool or chair for your baby to sit and place the tantalizing toys nearby but out of her immediate reach. Ask your baby to reach the toys.
It will help your baby move up and down by strengthening her lower body muscles and pulling to enhance her upper body muscles. While sitting on a chair, focus on leg muscles. It will help your baby control her body while sitting and standing, which will play a crucial role in walking later.
Avoid the shoes for the walk.
You do not need to invest in shoes for your baby to learn to walk. Let your baby experience the barefoot sensation while walking. Studies show that most babies are flat-footed when they start walking because of the underdevelopment of bones, muscles, and ligaments.
The sole of your baby foot has an arch called a medial arch made by bones, ligaments, and muscles. Baby feet are naturally flexible and fragile, so do not make them stiff while bounding in shoes. As your baby walks, these muscles and ligaments are strengthened and help to balance the body properly.
While walking, your baby gets a lot of information through her feet, the feel of the structure of the different surfaces, plywood, carpet, grass, and much more. The brain adjusts the body to balance and muscles to develop accordingly. On the other hand, the shoes may dull the brain’s messages while walking on different surfaces that may lead to some deficiency in muscle development.
But make sure while your baby is walking barefoot, there should not any object that can injure your baby’s little feet. However, if your floor is rough or uneven, then you should arrange shows for your baby with enough hard soles that can protect their fragile feet from any injury. Also, you can use these shoes when your plan a long walk outside your house for the safety and comfort of her tiny feet.
Support baby’s trunk and not hands
Leading with hands means your baby will tilt forward and cannot put her weight evenly on legs and feet that may lead to developing her muscles and ligaments in an unnatural posture. Babies should bear the weight on both heels and toes; it improves the natural posture and balance in their body.
So, leading your baby with hands is not suitable for their natural posture and muscle development. Instead, you should support their trunk to develop a strong pattern of motion throughout the lower body. It also helps them to learn the self-balance of their body on different surfaces. Supporting the baby’s trunk also improves their natural body posture for walking.
Provide motivation for your babies to walk
If your baby can stand but is still afraid of putting steps, she needs extra motivation to put steps. She needs a lot of practice to balance her body and manage her movement with her body weight. You can help your baby with favorite toys or stuffed animals in your hands while sitting a couple of steps in front of her.
This activity perfectly works with both crawling and walking, and it helps to improve the gross motor skills needed for a smooth walk. You can add multiple toys in the room as your baby’s mobility increases. Also, you can change the position or rotate each toy every day to keep a fresh look for your baby.
The baby’s favorite toys are a great reason for your baby to move around the babyproof space, and it converts this hard exercise into a fun game for her.
Let your baby move high and low
Moving high and low is also very beneficial for the baby’s lower body muscles and helps balance multiple surfaces. While moving high and low, the legs learn how to transfer the weight and balance to support the body.
You can set the high and low targets by placing your babies’ favorite toys on different surfaces; an open shelve is a good choice for this task. The open shelve provides an open view and easy access that motivate the baby to move up and down. This practice improves the lower body muscles and gross motor skills and helps your baby balance her body according to situations.
This squatting motion is essential for the initial walk as it teaches your body how to transfer the weight on each leg while standing and moving, along with building the lower body muscles.
Cruising along with the babyproof furniture
Cruising along the furniture like sofa, bed, or writing table is the next step when your baby pulls to stand quite easily. It helps your baby learn how to shift the weight from one item to another while balancing her body. Over time, these cruising sessions get longer and strengthen the foot muscles to hold the bodyweight for a long time and increase the stamina as well.
Cruising is a supportive walk that activates and strengthens the hip and thigh muscles. After long cruising sessions, your baby does not rely on hands and gets the confidence to walk independently without any support at all. Before cruising, makes sure all the items are sturdy and weight enough as a baby pushing most of its weight on these.
Start with an even and firm surface.
Parents are compassionate about their babies and feel very scared to allow their unbalanced baby to walk on hardwood floors or tiles, but this is the best place for them to learn how to walk. The hard and sturdy surfaces provide better friction that helps your baby to control herself.
When your baby gets steady with a hard surface, then allow them to check their skills on soft or uneven surfaces. Once they used to with a hard floor, let them walk on various textured surfaces such as carpets, beds, and couches. Yes, the grass is also good for sensory experience and helps to maintain balance.
Place your babies on their feet when you put them down
Many parents are used to putting their babies down in a sitting position, and they feel it easy for them. But in fact, you miss an opportunity to let them feel their weight on their feet. So put them on their feet when you put them down.
Putting your babies on their feet stimulates their minds that they are supposed to stand up. It will spike their minds even they sit down as soon as you place them down.
Get your baby a push toy
A push toy, mini shopping carts, and baby trollies provide a better opportunity for babies to walk while holding the push toy’s handle. The push toys offer independence for your babies with added dynamic support. It boosts the baby’s confidence, refines the balance, and improves motor skills and lower body muscles.
You can choose from the variety of push toys available online that are sturdy enough to provide enough resistance on all surfaces. Some push toys are better on carpets and some on the hard floor; you can choose the one suitable while reading the reviews.
As your baby powers the push toys, so these move faster than others. While buying the one, make sure it has a handle to support the baby’s weight. And heavy enough to provide slow motion for your baby. You can also go for some push toys offering fun activities that encourage your baby to walk.
Occupy your baby’s hand
Occupying your baby’s hand while walking shifts the baby’s focus from cruising. While holding something in hands makes your baby balance her body without any support. It improves the trunk and lower body muscles to attain a perfect balance for a smooth walk.
You can use lightweight items such as candy packs or small toys. At first, use one toy and later add another. Also, you can use a large stuffed animal that requires both hands to hold. Or anything else that occupies your baby’s hands. Over time your baby gets free from cruising supports and starts walking independently while holding any toy.
Climbing the stairs
Some babies feel boring walk on the ground floor, so you can use the staircase to get them involved in the walking show. For this activity, you have to be cruising very closely with your baby and help your baby climb the stairs. Your baby uses both hands, knees, and feet to climb up, performing a complete workout of whole-body muscles.
Climbing stairs is a perfect lower body dissociation; it means it separates the lower body motion from the upper body and helps to improve the whole-body muscles. While straightening your baby’s trunk and leg muscles. If you don’t have stairs in your home, you can use any foam ramp to let your baby perform this great performance. The foam ramp can improve many gross motor skills in your baby.
Parent’s smiling face—the biggest motivation for babies
You can adopt various techniques to motivate your baby to walk but parents smiling face is the biggest motivation for babies. The parent’s open arms, a lot of clapping, and smiling look motivate the baby to do something new and exciting. And first walking is the most exciting experience for both baby and the parents.
Celebrate every little victory
You cannot expect a giant leap from your bay; instead, appreciate their little steps. And celebrate your baby’s small victories, whether it’s a small step or even the attempt to take a small step. Your celebration motivates the baby and encourages her to do something new for their parents.
Practice helps your babies to learn to walk.
Practice is the key to learn any new skill, and the same is for babies how to learn to walk. You cannot expect your baby to walk on their own in one day. So you can set several periods throughout the day to practice your baby how to learn to walk.
You can set the morning time after wake up, after lunch, or before bath time to practice your baby walking. Your consistency stimulates your baby’s mind about the expectations you have from them. Keep appreciating your baby’s every movement; it makes them confident to learn the new skills.
The first walk of your baby is the most exciting and thrilling moment for both baby and parents. Like other early phases of development, this phase also requires developing specific baby muscles. These developed muscles support your baby for this new way of exploring the world.
It is usual for babies to start to walk from 7 to 18 months, depending upon the body’s development. In the early stages, babies learn to use the various muscles of their body with each movement. But walking requires the coordination of all those muscles with the brain, which definitely takes time.
If your baby has crossed 18 months and still does not take steps, then you should contact your pediatrician. Also you can schedule an appointment with Early Invention. But keep in mind the walking is a combination of a complex algorithm that takes time for babies to learn. Some babies learn to walk very early, and some take time. And yes, your help can make this learning faster and let your baby explore the world on their feet.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Movement: 8 to 12 Months, August 2009.
- Mayo Clinic, Infant Development, Milestones from 10 to 12 Months, June 2017.
- Babies to crawl Tips and Activities to Teach Your Baby to Crawl
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Milestone Moments.
- Babies shows and feet betterhealth.vic.gov.au
- Baby on the Move signs-baby-will-walk-soon
- Protecting Your Child from Hazards in Your Home babyproofing