You audibly squee’ed the first time your baby rolled over. You cried when they started crawling. And now, you think you’re ready to ask the question you once dreaded: When do babies start walking? Your little one’s first few years will be jam-packed with milestones, but taking their first steps is arguably one of the most memorable.
Before you can delight in the pitter-patter of little feet hitting the floor, your baby will drop hints by moving through a series of mini-milestones. So, to help you feel prepared for that exciting-slash-nerve-wracking eventuality, we’ve pulled together some basic information on what you can expect. Because trust us, you’ll need your wits about you once baby hits the ground running!
How do I know if baby is ready to start walking?
You may not realize it at the time, but your baby’s first “steps” toward becoming a toddler take place when they’re still pretty tiny. In fact, they aren’t literal steps. They’re developmental ones. The progression starts with tummy time, when your baby begins to strengthen the muscles necessary to hold them upright. This continues with rolling over, sitting up, crawling, pulling themselves to standing, and “cruising” — you know, the pulse-quickening moments when your little one precariously holds on to something to move around it.
All of these steps hint that baby is gearing up to move and groove. However, cruising might be the biggest signal baby gives you that they’re ready to start walking. And that makes sense, right? They’re basically going through the motions of walking while using an external object for stabilization and security. This typically takes place around nine to 12 months, although the timeframe can vary greatly from child to child.
When do babies start walking?
Ah, the million-dollar question! Everyone wants to know when babies start walking. But the truth is the more relevant question is when will your baby start walking? Every child develops at their own unique pace, so there is no be-all-end-all response to this query.
What we can tell you is that most babies start walking independently within two to three months of learning to stand up. So, once your baby is cruising confidently, walking likely isn’t far behind. It goes without saying, though, that not all babies start standing or cruising at the same age. Generally, babies will take their first steps between nine and 15 months.
Can most babies walk by one-year-old?
Many neurotypical babies begin walking independently by the time they reach their first birthday. However, most neurotypical babies hit that milestone by 15 months. And pediatricians consider anywhere between nine and 18 months to fall within the “normal” range. When your child will become a full-fledged walker depends on a variety of factors, such as gross motor skills and temperament (some kids are wait-and-see types!).
How can I help baby learn to walk?
Your inclination is to want to help your baby hit all of their milestones, and that’s understandable. Natural, even. In this case, baby obviously has to put in the work. But you can facilitate by providing them with plenty of opportunities. Make sure your house is baby-proofed. Give your little one some leeway to explore. Place sturdy, secured items within their reach to encourage pulling up and cruising. Take off baby’s shoes — foot-to-floor contact gives them a better grip. We probably don’t have to tell you to encourage your little one as they learn, right? Praise is a great motivator!
On the subject of walkers, well, you should know that many experts advise against them. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites walkers as a dangerous cause of infant injury in the U.S., and a preventable one at that. Walkers have even been banned in Canada for this reason! Stationary play centers (in moderation) are a better choice since most walker-related injuries occur when a walker topples over or falls down stairs.
What if my baby doesn’t start walking?
Keep encouraging your little one, offering them plenty of opportunities to start walking, and let them work toward that milestone at their own pace. But if your baby is approaching the 18-month mark and not showing signs of readiness, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reaching out to your baby’s pediatrician. They’ll be able to better assess whether your little one might have issues preventing their ability to walk, such as developmental hip dysplasia.