Like all other skills, walking doesn’t just happen spontaneously. Babies follow a pathway of stages in physical development before their body is ready for walking. Here are the developmental milestones your baby will master before she is able to take her first independent steps:
- Skill #1: Sitting up independently. Between 4 and 7 months of age, babies learn to sit up independently. Sitting up on his own requires neck, upper body, and back muscle strength.
- Skill #2: Pulling to stand. Between 7 and 10 months, most babies are able to pull themselves into a standing position. This is a tough skill to master, because babies carry most of their weight in the top half of the body!
- Skill #3: Cruising. Cruising involves a baby’s ability to walk with assistance. Your baby will need to be able to pull to stand, and then she will learn to maneuver around a room by holding onto furniture. This usually occurs between 8 and 11 months.
- Final skill: Walking. Once your baby has mastered the first 3 skills, he’ll be ready to take his first independent steps!
When do babies take their first steps? The answer can vary widely among babies. While most babies will take their first steps between 9 and 15 months, some babies walk much sooner, and others a little later. The first unstable steps might look more like wobbly lurches as your baby inches cautiously along, arms outstretched for balance. But soon enough, your baby will get the muscle strength and coordination to be a stable, graceful toddler!
Walking gracefully isn’t as simple as it appears. It involves an array of skills that can take some time to master. First, your baby must learn to stand in a stable stance - and this requires a lot of muscle contraction. Second, your baby must learn to relax her hips and knees enough to shift body weight from side to side. Once she’s able to lift her legs one by one and take steps, she has to learn how to stop. Beginner walkers will most likely fall down as the only way to stop. They don’t know how to adjust to the momentum and rhythm of walking, so new walkers will take quite a few tumbles!
Don’t be alarmed if your baby alternates between walking and crawling at first. If your baby sees something he wants immediately, he might revert to the easier skill, crawling, instead of attempting to walk toward that object.
The ability to walk can be influenced by a number of factors, including personality, size, overall health, and siblings. While some babies are cautious and careful, other babies are “go-getters” and are eager to explore the world around them. These babies have no fear of falling and won’t hesitate to get up each time they stumble. A baby’s physical size matters, too. Heavier babies are sometimes later walkers because it takes more strength to maneuver their body in an upright position. Health factors, such as recurring ear infections, can influence a baby’s ability to walk because it often throws off their equilibrium. Lastly, birth order matters: Babies that have older siblings will tend to walk earlier because they want to imitate (and keep up with!) the older children in the home.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
|I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.|