As your baby grows, you will experience different developmental milestones. For instance, in the first month, you may notice the baby cooing, in two months, the baby starts paying closer attention to objects and at 4 months the baby may start to roll over. While each of these milestones can fill you with joy and wonder, there’s nothing more exciting and memorable than watching your baby take his first steps. Walking is a major milestone in a baby’s life and it can be a bit worrying for you as parents.
You may have a number of questions to think about such as at what age do babies walk, how to encourage babies to walk, what precautions you must take and why your baby still hasn’t made an effort to walk while your friend’s baby has already started walking.
There are several signals and signs that indicate your baby is ready to walk. Knowing what they are and watching out for them will help you understand when your baby is ready to walk and how you can help.
What Age Do Babies Walk?
Most babies start walking anywhere from eight and a half months to twelve months. Some babies have been known to walk with some assistance at the age of 6 months. In fact, according to The Telegraph UK, the youngest baby to walk without assistance in 2010 was Xavier King, who began walking at just 6 months of age.
Kathleen Stassen Berger, author and professor at the Bronx Community College (city University, New York) has noted in her book, the Developing Person through Childhood and Adolescence, that Uganda has the earliest baby walkers while France has the latest, with babies walking without assistance at about 15 months of age.
When Do Babies Start Walking – The Signs
There are several signals that indicate your baby is ready to walk. If your child starts rolling around, crawling, scooting, or attempting to climb somewhere using his hands, walking is not far behind. Some babies, don’t necessarily crawl before they start walking. They try to stand up and then one day let go of their hands and start to walk, and that’s perfectly normal.
Closely observe how your child’s skills are progressing month on month. If he is doing a little more this month than he did last month, and if he is attempting to try and get his body off the ground, you don’t have to worry. If, by the end of the first year, he is not showing any signs of walking, you may have to check with your doctor. Here are some indicators:
- Your baby will lean on some furniture to attempt to stand and may let go of the hands for a few seconds.
- Your baby will attempt to walk using the furniture for support.
- Your baby will try to walk toward you or a family member.
- Your baby will try to stand without any support when he falls in the middle of the room.
How to Encourage Baby to Walk
Babies usually require plenty of time and practice before they pull themselves to an upright position and start walking without assistance. You can make that process easier by following some good practices.
1. When the baby is on his tummy, keep some toys and objects just out of reach. Babies will be forced to lift their heads to see the toys and this will help strengthen their back muscles, which is needed for walking.
2. Once the baby is able to sit, hold a toy in front of the baby and move it back and forth. This will encourage your baby to move this way and that to reach for it. As the baby attempts to reach for the toy, the muscles in the back, neck, legs and arms will gain more strength. This will be helpful when the baby makes an attempt to stand up.
3. Once the baby can stand, encourage him to walk in front of you. You can hold hold the hands initially, then slowly let go of one hand as the baby tries to find a balance.
4. Once the baby is able to stand confidently, he will start using his hands to clutch objects and move across the room. Rearrange the furniture carefully so that the baby can quickly reach, say from the wall to the coffee table. Be close to the baby when he starts to hold objects and move as he may lose his balance and fall down, hurting himself in the process.
Precautions to Take When Babies Start Walking
Babies can become very active when they start walking, so its important to take some precautions when they do so:
- Remove low tables and furniture with sharp corners.
- Remove furniture that is light and ones that can topple off easily.
- Remove any wires and chords lying around the house. Babies may trip on them or coil it around their necks.
- Add gates to the stairs to prevent falls.
- Keep all potentially dangerous liquids and objects out of the baby’s reach.