When Will My Baby Learn to Walk?

Mother helping baby boy walk

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Babies develop at different rates, and learning to walk is no different. However, some parents worry when their child has not hit this milestone by 12 months old. Not to worry, it's perfectly normal for a child to not be walking at their first birthday.

In fact, most babies don't start toddling until around 13 months. Some may not even walk until 15 to 16 months of age and that's still just fine. Remember that every child is different and has their own developmental timetable.

How to Encourage Walking

Now, even though your child is operating at their own pace, know that you can always give a little encouragement. Maybe your child is an expert crawler, for example, who finds little interest in walking. They're completely mobile and crawling serves them well.

If you start to move the action off the floor, however, they might be suddenly interested in giving it a go.

If your child is like this or spends a lot of time playing on the floor, start putting toys on the edge of the couch or up on a coffee table. Then, when that has their interest piqued and they are regularly pulling up and cruising the furniture, move the coffee table a little further from the couch so they have to take an unassisted step to get from one place to another.

If you're sitting on the floor, let your child pull up using a sturdy chair, then sit a couple of feet away with a favorite toy and see if they try to take that single step to get to you or the toy. Also, make sure that you're not always providing a little circle of toys right around your child on the floor.

Try spreading toys out around your child so they have some motivation to get moving. Not so much that it's frustrating, but just enough out of reach that they are willing to work for it a bit.

Provide Free Time on the Floor

Other children may not be interested in walking because they don't get a lot of opportunities to practice. Some children are perfectly content to hang out playing in an exersaucer, high chair, playpen, crib or even your arms. And that's fine, but if this is your child, make sure you also give her plenty of time to roam freely on the floor so she can put those emerging large motor skills to use.

You might think that an exersaucer, jumper or sit-in walker is teaching her to stand or assisting with walking, but actually, just the opposite has been found. Babies use different muscle groups with these devices than they would be learning to walk and they rely on the device to catch them instead of learning to balance themselves.

Luckily, a child who loves the exersaucer is also likely to love toys that have a wide, supportive base and wheels with a slow, restricted roll. These toys and others on this list of toddler walkers entertain, assist children with walking and balance skills and offer increased mobility. Bonus: They take up a lot less floor space than an exersaucer, too.

Give Your Child Space

Again, most kids walk between the time they turn a year old and around 16 months no matter what mom or dad do or don't do. But there are some exceptions. If you're worried about your child getting hurt, remember this: It's going to happen. Your child will lose their balance, bump their head, bust their lip and fall down. Many times.

This is part of the learning process and there's little you can do to prevent it unless you want to resign yourself to long months of hauling a toddler around or relying on constraining devices to keep them safe. And that's just no way to live.

A Word From Verywell

Focus on what you can do. Don't remove the coffee table. Use a bumper around the edges or on sharp corners. If your entire house is covered with hard, slippery tile, purchase socks with grippy soles and invest in some area rugs for those areas where your child plays most often. And always be ready with a kiss and a bag of frozen veggies or a popsicle to soothe those bumps and bruises.

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Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Milestones: Your Child By Eighteen Months. Updated February 8, 2019.