Watching your baby walking for the first time is one of the greatest milestones of parenthood. One day they're crawling and possibly toddling around with the help of furniture and the next they're on their own. Soon afterwards your baby will be off running and exerting her independence. While you can take steps to encourage your baby to walk, keep in mind that every baby is different. Some start walking earlier or later than their peers. This is completely normal.
Learning to Walk
Your baby is developing the muscles and coordination to walk early on. They spend their first year sitting, crawling and rolling over, teaching themselves about the way muscles work and the control that they have over their movements. A newborn will push his feet off of a surface he is held above, much like he is walking. A few months later, usually around five months, your baby will bounce up and down on a surface he is held over.
Between 6 and 10 months your baby will probably be able to pull herself to a standing position. After some practice standing while holding onto furniture, your baby will start to cruise, moving from one piece of furniture to another. You may find that your child cannot figure out how to sit down from a standing position. She may even get upset about it! This can be funny for parents to watch, and your child will eventually learn how to bend her legs to lower herself to the ground.
After that, it should take between one to three months for him to have the confidence to take steps on his own. He'll be breezing through your house by 14 to 15 months. Have your camera ready!
Is Your Baby Ready to Walk?
Babies show signs of readiness to walk at different ages. Don't be discouraged if your baby doesn't seem to be following the same course as other babies his age. Feel free to mention any concerns to his pediatrician, who may be able to address a problem or, at the very least, put your worries to rest.
The age range for babies to learn how to walk is anywhere from 9 to 18 months. Most babies are taking their first steps at around 12 months. Your baby also many not follow the traditional steps toward walking; for example, she may never crawl and go straight to walking.
Signs that your child is preparing himself to walk include rolling around, scooting, crab walking and trying to climb stairs.
What Can You Do to Help?
Unfortunately you can't really force your child to be ready to walk; she'll have to do that on her own. There are things you can do to encourage your baby, though, and things not to do.
You can start early by promoting tummy time. Although some babies hate it at first, it really is the best way for them to begin developing muscles that they'll use later down the road. Placing desirable toys just out of reach should get your baby moving, or at least trying.
If your baby is standing and upset because he hasn't yet figured out how to sit down, resist the temptation to put him in a sitting position. Instead, show him how to bend his knees so that he can learn from you.
Standing in front of your child with your arms out can encourage your child to walk toward you and make her feel confident in her abilities. You can also let your child walk in front of you while you hold her hands. Every once in awhile, let go of one of her hands so that she gets a feel for balance.
Once your baby is cruising, you can provide sturdy furniture for him to use to get around. Making sure your home is baby-proofed (and that stairs are gated) is also a good idea at this point, if you haven't done it already.
Walkers may seem like a good idea because your child is practicing walking, but experts say this is not the case. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that using a walker can prevent your child's upper leg muscles from properly developing, in part because it makes walking too easy.
Another thing you won't need yet are shoes. Walking barefoot improves balance and coordination. If your baby will be walking outside or on an unsafe surface, she should definitely be wearing shoes. Just make sure there's time for indoor walks as well.
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