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A baby’s first stumbling steps are an eagerly anticipated milestone in their early years and one that will have you beaming with pride. This proud moment marks the beginning of the transition from baby to toddler and is one of the first signs of their independence as they learn to move around on their own.

As one of the major development goals, many parents will worry about when their baby will start walking, but it’s important to remember that every child is different and will learn at their own pace. Some may be scuttling off on their own after just six months, while others will be over a year old before they decide to start walking.

Learning to walk is a steady, slow process for babies, and one that begins during their first few weeks and months. Find out more about when babies walk and the stages of learning leading up to this proud moment.

First steps

Babies grow up so fast. One moment they’re spending most of the day napping, the next they’re tottering about the house independently, exploring the world around them. And while it may seem that their first step comes out of the blue, that magical moment is, in fact, the culmination of a long development process that begins in the first few months of a baby’s life.

As babies grow, their muscles become stronger and more able to support their own weight. In these first few months, their legs and back are often too underdeveloped to support them standing upright, but as they start to learn to roll over, your baby will begin to build strength in their neck, back and arm muscles, all of which are important in helping them walk. Rolling also improves the coordination necessary to control their limbs for the first time.

All babies develop at their own pace, but milestones will include 1

  • 3 – 4 months – Your baby will be getting stronger by the day and will begin to explore their own strength. Pushing up from a prone position is the first sign of them being able to support their own bodyweight, as their neck, back and core strengthens.
  • 3 – 6 months – Babies begin to roll at this age as they learn more about coordination, mobility and start to want to explore the environment around them.
  • 4 – 9 months – After rolling, your little one might be able to sit up on their own as their core and back are now strong enough to support their tiny weight.
  • 6 - 13 months – At this age, your baby might be off around the house, scooting and crawling through their environment.
  • 6 – 13 months – Try helping your baby along with walking, holding their hands and supporting them as they learn to stand.
  • 8 – 18 months – A baby will make those first tentative, independent steps any time before their second birthday, as they now possess the muscle strength, balance and coordination to totter about alone.

When do babies learn to crawl?

Babies will usually start crawling around the six-month mark, though each child is unique and will develop at their own rate.

Once babies start crawling, they can get around at quite a pace. Babies can crawl in a variety of ways too, so not every child will be whizzing around on their hands and knees as you might expect. Some will pull themselves about on their front, while others will scoot about in a seated position.

When do babies start walking?

As with most major milestones, babies will start to walk at their own pace and every baby will be different, but a good marker is any time between six and 18 months.

Learning to walk is a slow process. It requires your baby to have strong enough muscles, good balance and coordination and the confidence to move around on two feet. Once they’ve mastered the art of crawling, steady walking development can include a number of stages, such as:

  • Standing up – As your baby builds their core and leg muscles, they’ll be able to tentatively start standing on their own. They may lack the balance and won’t be able to hold themselves up for long, but these brief attempts at balancing are the start of walking upright.
  • Balancing act – At this stage, your baby is quite confident using anything at hand to pull themselves around the room – table legs, sofa edges– if they can use it for balance, they will.
  • Holding hands – Keeping your baby upright and holding their hands as they walk can be a great way to improve coordination and balance at this stage, usually around the six-month to a year point.
  • Walking alone – Sometime between six-months old and a year-and-a-half, your child will be confident enough to potter about on their own. Be sure to not miss this magical first step moment.

How to encourage your baby to walk

Generally speaking, babies will learn to walk when they’re ready, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some steps parents can take to help them along the way. Not only will these methods aid in their development on the way to independent strolling, but they’ll also help strengthen the bonds between you and your child. Some useful tips and tricks to consider include:

  • Holding Hands – Holding your baby upright, or holding their hand to support them as they totter around can be a great way to get them to feel comfortable with standing upright without the fear of falling over.
  • Standing further back – If you’re trying to encourage your baby to walk towards you, or between parents, extend the distance between you both to try and encourage your little one to walk the distance.
  • Standing them back up – Should your little one fall over, helping them stand back up can encourage them to become more comfortable standing upright and trying again, rather than resorting to crawling.
  • Skip the shoes to begin with – Shoes are all well and good, but, if it’s safe to do so, it’s better to have your child learn to walk with bare feet. This will help them build balance and keep a natural stride.
  • Don’t rely on walkers or strollers – Though walkers and strollers can encourage your baby to stand up and assist with their balance, you don’t want them to become overly reliant on them. Encouraging your baby to stand unassisted is a good way to get them comfortable with moving independently.

Though it can take some time for your baby to get up and moving on their own, watching your little one’s first tottering steps is a magical moment treasured by parents the world over.

Discover more top tips and hints to help you through your baby’s first few months with JOHNSON’S® Baby.

1 https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/when-do-babies-start-walking#pushing-up

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