Do you have a 17-month baby who’s not walking yet? Does your toddler has a problem walking and want to know the reasons for late walking in babies? Or do you want to encourage and help your baby learn to walk early?
You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll tackle everything you need to know about your baby’s walking timeline. We’ll even tell you what are the signs that your baby is ready to walk, when do babies start to walk, and the best tips to teach them how to walk!
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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. Some parents even go so far as to create their very own baby gym – a place where the baby can crawl and stumble in a totally safe enviroment.
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 do babies do before they walk?
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.
Once your babies are comfortable sitting on their own, there’s a great chance that your baby is walking soon.
Signs Baby Will Walk Soon
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.
Standing Up Alone
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 after this milestone is where the walking phase starts.
So, when do babies start walking?
According to Bayley Scales of Infant Development, babies start to walk at the age of 12 months. Another 2013 analysis, conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) supports this findings. After examing 222 healthy babies, researchers found out that babies begin to walk at the age of 8.5 months and 20 months or at an average – 12 months.
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 than seven months.
So, what if your baby is not walking at 20 months? Should you be worried? Although there are medical conditions associated with late walking in babies, there are reasons that you can address without going to the doctor. Below we list 8 reasons for late walking in babies!
8 Reasons for Late Walking in Babies
1 Developmental Speed Differences
Not all babies are built the same. Babies mature and grow at their own rate and nobody else’s. Babies that walk earlier or later are not more or less intelligent than other kids. They each mature at their own rate. Differences in achieving developmental milestones are to be expected. It’s not unusual for 15, 16, or even 17 month old babies to not be able to walk yet. In most cases this isn’t a cause for concern. Maybe your baby just needs a little bit more time.
2 Personality and Experience
Baby personality plays a big part in when they decide to start walking. Some babies simply don’t feel the need to get up and walk. Most babies with a relaxed or calm attitude tend to stand and walk later than their peers. On the other hand, babies with an overly cautious personality may be afraid to take the first step. These babies may also have tried – and failed – to walk before.
3 Lack of Muscle Development and Support
Babies need regular leg exercise that will give them the strength to walk on their own two feet. Sickly babies will have a harder time learning to walk due to less time spent on their legs. Babies that haven’t been given enough space to crawl and stand are more likely to be late walkers. Babies that have spent too much time in carriers will also have weaker leg muscles. Playtime and space is very important for babies to exercise their legs.
4 Too Much Support
Babies that are constantly moved about by their parents can become late walkers. These babies may not be motivated to learn to stand and walk because they know their mums and dads will do it for them.
Babies that have been supported too much by walkers can become late walkers. These babies have not developed a sense of balance yet because of constant support. With time and effort, they can catch up to their peers.
5 Muscular and Skeletal Disorders
Babies can also be affected by muscle and bone problems. Hip flexibility and stability are a common problem in late walkers. Other babies suffer from weak ankle muscles that tire quickly.
Most parents are wary of their babies having bowed legs. The truth is that nearly every baby has bowed legs. A baby’s leg bones normally straighten out by the time they reach two years old. But sometimes, these bowed legs are signs of skeletal problems such as rickets. Rickets is caused by a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D in baby’s diet.
Some babies are afflicted with hypotonia. This causes brain signals to become interrupted. These jammed signals cause problems with baby’s muscular system and movement. Hypotonia is also usually a symptom of an underlying neurological condition.
6 Neurological Disorders
Babies that haven’t learned to walk by 18 months are rare, but they do occur. But babies that haven’t yet learned to walk or talk by 20 months should be checked by a doctor. If in doubt, check your list for signs of developmental growth. Such signs encompass language, hand motor skills, rolling over, and crawling. These are a good way to see if your baby has a neurological disease or is just a late bloomer.
Neurological problems such as Down’s Syndrome or cerebral palsy cause walking problems. These are diseases that affect the brain. Sick individuals have a difficult time controlling their bodies. In babies, these most often manifest as an inability to walk. Neurological diseases are serious problems that require a doctor’s attention immediately.
7 Genetic Causes
Studies have found that there is a link between parents who were late walkers and their children. Parents who were late walkers themselves are more likely to have late walkers. This is due to babies inheriting the genes that cause late walking. These genes can lay dormant
Muscular dystrophy is a possible genetic reason for your baby’s late walking. Congenital muscular dystrophy is an inheritable condition. Muscular dystrophy weakens the body’s muscles. In babies, this manifests as general weakness and an inability to stand up and walk. Muscular dystrophy also causes babies to have a hard time breathing.
8 Babies Like Crawling
Some babies become too accustomed to crawling. For these tots, there’s not much point in learning to walk if crawling does the job. This is a normal developmental delay in babies and is not a cause for concern. All these babies need is a little motivation.
If the reason for late walking in your baby is not genetics, 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. Here are 16 best tips to help your baby learn to walk.
16 Tips to Help a Baby Learn 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.
#1 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. In this phase it’s natural to spoil the baby with loads of toys. just remember the young ones are very sensitive at this stage so try and stay away from plastic, and go with eco-friendly wooden toys instead.
#2 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. If you are in a house with stair, do remember to put on a stair gate for babies. This babyproofing can add confidence in both of you to achieve the milestone without facing any injury.
#3 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.
#4 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.
#5 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. Using a dolls pram for the girls is often a suitable solution in thi phase.
#6 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.
#7 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.
#8 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.
#9 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.
#10 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.
#11 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.
#12 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.
#13 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.
You may like to read: 10 Best Indoor Climbing Toys for Toddlers
#14 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.
#15 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.
#16 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.