When Do Babies Walk, How Can I Help, And When Should I Worry?

When Do Babies Start Walking? Get Ready, Mama, Because It’s Coming

July 27, 2020 Updated November 19, 2020

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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.

Signs my baby will walk soon

Walking is a complete game changer and apart from baby proofing your home, there’s really nothing you can do to prepare for a tiny mobile human. But what you can do is watch out for the signs, so you at least know when to have your camera ready and remove items that are at their standing level. 

When your baby is constantly pulling themselves up to stand this is a sign they want and have the strength to walk. These attempts may not all look like complete successes but eventually, they’ll stick it and take those few steps forward. 

Your baby may also become more confident (and completely reckless). This looks alot like standing straight up on furniture without really caring they’re about to flip off the couch. You may have to keep a closer eye on your baby during this time because although their confidence is key to their walking, their boosted self-esteem can lead to a lot of falls and daring behavior.  

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 and helps work out those crucial foot muscles. We probably don’t have to tell you to encourage your little one as they learn, right? Praise is a great motivator!

There are many products on the market that claim to help babies and newly-minted toddlers learn how to walk, but most are completely unnecessary and some even come with a danger warning. There are harnesses with long handles that allow the adult to keep the baby upright without holding their hands or bending over. While this may sound enticing for parents or grandparents with bad backs, it’s not actually the best tool to help your child learn how to walk as it is your strength and not their core and legs doing all the big lifting.

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 can I do if my baby keeps falling?

In the words of Aaliyah, teach your baby to “dust yourself off and try again.” We’re pretty sure no baby has ever learned how to walk without a tumble or two on their cute little diaper tush or knees. They may shed a few tears or get a boo boo or two, but most might just laugh it off, stand up, and hit the ground running again. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be near by just in case they need to be steered in a different (read: more safe) direction.

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.

How can I baby proof my house for a newly walking baby?

Just as you did when your baby first sat up and then started crawling, try to get down to baby’s range of vision and take a closer look at what might pose as a hazard as your newfound walker explores a much higher space than before. Like sleep training, baby proofing, and then toddler proofing, your home doesn’t happen just once and you’ll find yourself continually making adjustments as necessary. Can your baby now reach a metal picture frame they never could before? Move it higher. Are they obsessed with pulling themselves up by the tablecloth that has that heavy crystal vase on it? Uhhh, yeah, move it them both, like, yesterday. And if baby is also starting to climb on the book case or media console, make sure books and the TV is secure so there’s no hazard of them accidentally knocking anything on top of themselves.