Walking is a major developmental leap for babies, and parents are often anxious about when it’ll happen. Every baby learns to walk at his own pace, however, so just because your friend’s kids are already toddling doesn’t mean yours should be, too! Read on to find out what signals indicate your kid is ready to walk, how you can help, and more.
How to encourage walking
It takes most babies about 1,000 hours of practice from the time they pull themselves upright to the time they can walk alone. To help prepare your child for taking those first few steps:
The single most important requirement for walking: strong back muscles, which babies develop by lifting their heads while lying on their tummies.
Once it can sit:
Help your kid practice its balance and mobility by rolling a ball back and forth with her. Or hold a toy in front of her and move it from side to side, which will encourage her to lean this way and that.
Once it can stand:
Let your kid walk in front of you while you hold his hands—and periodically let go of one hand so she can experiment with balance. Or stand a few feet away from him and cheer him on when he’s standing on his own.
Once it can cruise:
After your kid has mastered standing, it may start to leave its hand prints all over the house as he cruises from the wall to a chair to the coffee table. Help him by arranging sturdy furniture so he can make his way across the room.
When will my baby walk?
Most babies take their first steps around their first birthday, but the age range varies from 9 to 18 months. Don’t worry if your baby takes a few detours along the way. Some kids never craw, they go straight from standing to walking and that’s perfectly normal.
If your kids are doing any of the followings, walking is not far behind:
- Rolling around
- Crab walking
- Climbing stairs using his hands.
Should I buy a walker?
The short answer: No! Canada has banned the sale of walkers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics supports a similar ban in the United States. Each year, thousands of children end up in the hospital due to injuries from using walkers, such as toppling down the stairs or reaching a hot stove.
Baby’s first shoes
When indoors, it’s best to let your child walk around barefoot. Her feet can grab slippery surfaces, like wood and tile floors, better. Outdoors, she’ll need a pair of shoes. For a perfect fit:
- Don’t shop for shoes first thing in the morning, since feet grow about 5 percent by the end of the day.
- Your kids should be standing when you check for fit. You should be able to press the full width of your thumb between the tip of the shoe and the end of her toe, and there should be just enough room at the heel to squeeze your pinkie in.
- Let her toddle around the store in the shoes for five minutes, then take them off and look at her feet. If there are any irritated spots, nix those shoes—she won’t be able to break them in.
- Check the fit monthly, since feet grow rapidly at this stage. And be ready to make a trip to the shoe store every two to three months.
Your newly mobile baby can get around faster than you think! Step up your childproofing:
– Scour your home for trailing cords or other items your child might trip on. Put away throw rugs, retack loose carpet and have siblings pick up their toys.
- Remove low tables with sharp corners that are hard to cover well enough to prevent injury. (Lacerations above or at the eyebrows are so common among kids learning to walk that in hospital emergency rooms they’re called coffee-table lacerations!)
- Lock up all potentially harmful household substances.
- Put away furniture that topples easily.
- Installsafety gates at the top and the bottom of the stairs, and supervise your baby whenever he’s on the stairs.