What age do babies walk? As a general guideline, babies learn to walk between 8 and 17 months. My oldest was walking like a pro at 8 ½ months while my middle child didn’t quite put things together until 18 months. There is a wide range of “normal” but if you ever have concerns, be sure to consult your child’s pediatrician.
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There is probably no other developmental milestone that will capture more attention from you (cheering, applauding, photographing, videoing, etc) than when your child takes his first steps. He has worked long and hard to develop the strength, coordination, balance and motor planning necessary to stand upright and advance one foot forward at a time to achieve this new form of mobility that he will use for the rest of his life!
For just a minute, let’s revisit the long road that has led to this exciting moment. It all begins with the walking reflex which has your baby mimicking the stepping pattern when held upright. This eventually disappears.
Tummy time starts building the muscles of the upper body that are crucial for developing balance and coordinating movement. Crawling encourages even more core strength and the bilateral movements that mimic a walking pattern (one leg forward, opposite arm forward).
As your child learns to sit independently, he is demonstrating some big time balance and, yet again, continuing to develop the core strength necessary to progress through these stages of development. And then finally, your child learns to stand and does crazy little tricks like bouncing up and down on their legs, cruising along the furniture and moving up and down from the floor – all of which are strengthening those tiny little legs, working on coordination and motor planning, and refining balance.
Pretty amazing, huh??
Learning to walk takes practice! Allow your child the time necessary to test their new found independence and skill. Here’s how you can promote walking:
-Place pieces of furniture with just enough space between them that kids have to take a few steps to get to the next couch or low table.
-Offer push toys that they can use to practice balance and his ability to move one foot in front of the other.
-Weight a laundry basket with a stack of books and let them push it around the house (be sure to give them a little ride inside for a fun sensory break!).
-Most importantly….LET THEM FALL! Toddlers are built to fall, get back up, and fall again. This is how they learn important life skills like perseverance as well as developing their gross motor skills.
-No need for shoes right off the bat! Barefoot is best! Without shoes, the muscles of the foot are allowed the opportunity to develop which increases the strength of the arch. “Toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot,” says Tracy Byrne, a podiatrist specializing in podopaediatrics. “The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down.” If you do need to purchase shoes for the super cute outfit that Nana bought, find something soft and flexible that still afford the same benefits of being barefoot.
This article has fascinating information about how a toddler learns to walk including a visual representation of how much ground they cover! In this study, toddlers averaged 2367.6 steps/hour, traveled 701.2 m/hour, and fell 17.4 times/hour. WOW! That’s over 7 football fields in an hour!!
Our advice for you as your child learns to walk? Lace up your running shoes. Life will never be the same! You have a mover and a shaker that will now want to explore every nook and cranny of every place he encounters. It is an amazing journey. Enjoy it!
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