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The First Steps – When Do Babies Start Walking?

The first smile, the first word, the first bite of solid food, and the first crawl - the first year of your newborn baby are full of many 'firsts.' However, one of the most awaited first for many parents is the time their baby starts to walk and the baby first steps. All children are different and achieve their milestones at different ages—some start walking before their first birthday, while some take a little longer. If you wonder when babies start walking and how to help baby walk independently, this article is meant to help you understand this milestone better. 

Walking Before Walking

There is a long and sometimes frustrating phase when babies are still not properly walking but take a step or two and cannot balance their bodies anymore. Therefore, it is important to make your baby feel confident during this phase instead of focusing on at what age baby start walking. This will help them achieve a sense of independence early in life. 

When your little one is in this phase, help them take their first supported steps by walking with them, applauding, hugging them, and making them feel confident about those first few steps of walking before walking.  

When Do Babies Start Walking?

And, then comes the stage, when your baby starts walking! Babies usually start walking between 9 – 18 months of age. But do not forget that all babies are different and achieve milestones at their own pace, so, avoid stressing about when do babies walk or how to teach baby to walk. Therefore, it is important not to rush your baby or pressurize them into walking till that age. But, if your baby does not start walking by the age of 18 months, you may want to discuss the same with their pediatrician.

When your baby starts walking by holding furniture and other things, the cruising stage will usually start around 8 – 9 months of age. This is an indicator that the fun stage of walking is about to begin. Let us understand the stages of learning to walk in detail here. 

Stages Of Learning to Walk

Here is the step by step progression of baby walking stages to make it easy to understand how your baby learns to walk. 

    • Rolling – The base of walking starts from the time your baby will start to roll over. Babies learn to roll over between 4 months to 7 months. At this stage, you need to be very careful and keep an eye on your little one as they might not know how to perfectly roll back from the stomach to back initially and might need a little help.  
    • Sitting – Unsupported sitting is followed by sitting with support. Please ensure you do not make your baby sit unsupported until they do not hold their head on their own and do not roll from back to stomach and vice versa. 
  • Crawling – Around the age of 7 – 10 months, your baby will start to crawl. This is when they start to gain independence and explore their surroundings by moving towards things they want to touch, feel, eat, or explore. 
    • Standing – Once your baby starts to crawl, it's time they will start holding furniture or anything around they have access to and stand with support.  
    • Holding hands – This is when you want to help them learn to take some steps with confidence and without the fear of falling. Hold their hands and help them take a few steps at a time with support.  
    • Cruising – Baby walking age is finally here! After gaining confidence by walking with the support of your hands, your baby will start cruising around the house, holding furniture and everything within reach. Babies enjoy this stage and eventually start taking a step or two without holding anything.
    • Walking – Tada! It's time to walk, run, at times fall, and again to get back and walk.  

    Signs Your Baby May Start to Walk Soon 

    If you are confused about the signs baby will walk soon, here is a checklist that will help you be prepared. 

    • Your baby will be more aware of everyone and everything around them. 
    • They are crawling like an expert, possibly even a ninja. 
    • They have already started standing up, holding furniture, cruising around, and bouncing while standing. 
    • They try to take a step without holding anything towards you when you call them or stretch your arms towards them, signalling them to come for a hug. 

    How To Encourage Your Baby to Walk 

    • Something tempting - Leave a tempting trail of your baby's favourite toys or items to follow. Sometimes you can become the trail and play chase with them and let them follow you and come to you. 
    • A push toy – Experts and medical practitioners advise against the traditional infant walkers and baby walking toys. But a push toy like a wagon or a push car helps babies develop their leg muscles and help them practice and master the art of walking.  
    • From a distance – It is a parent's instinct to protect their child from falling and be around them whenever they try anything new. But it will help your baby learn to walk earlier if you stand at a distance and encourage them to take their first steps and applaud them on the achievement. 
    • Applaud and comfort failures, too – Your baby will fall a hundred times before they learn to walk properly. Getting disheartened or anxious will make your baby anxious too. Applaud their effort and let them see your happiness even in their efforts. Comfort each fall with lots of hugs and cuddles to make them confident for trying again. 
    • Create challenges – We all love a little challenge, don't we? Every time your baby takes one step, encourage them to take two by moving yourself or the thing they are holding for support two steps away and so on. These  can be in the form of exercises to help baby walk. The sense of achievement can motivate a baby as much as it can an adult! 
    • Extend a hand – The best thing a baby would want to reach by walking is YOU! Yes, your embrace, your hug, your arms are something that can motivate them the most. So, extend a hand towards them when they are learning to walk to encourage them. 

    Creating a Safe Environment

    The culture of baby proofing our houses is not very popular in India yet, but it is smart to do so. Especially for nuclear families, it isn't easy to keep an eye on babies all the time. Thus, it is vital to create a safe environment for your baby to learn to walk while keeping you assured of their safety.  The following points need to be kept in mind to create a safe environment – 

    • Make sure there are no sharp edges on any of the furniture around.
    • Install a baby gate on the kitchen and staircases that are accessible to your baby. 
    • Secure the furniture, drawers, or storage shelves that can topple if your baby pulls them to stand up. 

    When to Visit Your Healthcare Provider

    It is advised to consult their pediatrician in the following scenarios - 

    • Your child does not start to walk by the age of 18 months.
    • They keep falling even after a few months of starting to walk unsupported. 
    • They continue to walk on tiptoes for long.
    • They do not start climbing stairs after a few months of starting to walk.

    Walking is a significant milestone and a fun phase for you and your babies. But, keeping a few things in mind, you can make it a learning experience for your baby.

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