When should my child take those much-anticipated first steps?


Your child's first steps are a time of great anticipation and excitement, but you might also wonder if he or she is taking too long to reach this important milestone.

»RELATED: Look who's talking: When should your baby start talking? 

Here's what you need to know about when your child should be taking his or her first steps:

When do most children start walking?

Most babies start to take their first steps when they're between 9-12 months old, and most are walking well at around the 14- to 15-month mark, according to BabyCenter. The important part to remember is "most," since like many other things, each child can reach this milestone at his or her own pace. Some babies develop perfectly normally and yet don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months old.

When should you be concerned?

Some kids simply walk earlier than others, but as relatives keep asking, "Is she walking yet?" you might be getting anxious. You should pay attention to your child's "quality" of movement instead of only considering how old they are when they start walking, a professor of pediatrics told Today's Parent. So a 15-month-old who actively crawls but hasn't started to walk yet is probably fine, but another child who moves in a stiff or floppy way warrants a visit to the pediatrician.

You should also adjust your expectations if your child was born prematurely and adjust their age to take this into account. That means if your 13-month-old was born eight weeks prematurely, he may be hitting expected milestones about two months later than his age would indicate.

You should also observe your child for signs of the following, Lisa Rivard, a pediatric physiotherapist, told Today's Parent: having equal use of both sides of the body, getting in and out of a sitting position unassisted, crawling on the hands and knees (as opposed to scooting around on his bottom), starting to pull himself up to stand or walk while holding onto furniture (cruising) and taking weight on both legs with flat feet while you're supporting her torso.

These actions are all signs that your child has a good foundation for walking and that there's probably not an issue. But if you have any concerns, talk to your child's pediatrician.

How can you encourage your child to walk?

As long as your child seems ready to walk and you've ruled out any issues, the following tips from Parents.com and NewKidsCenter.com can help you encourage your child to take those first steps. Keep in mind, though, that each child is different, and your child may just decide to walk when he or she is ready.

Carry your child less often – Some parents get into the habit of carrying their child a good bit, which cuts down on their opportunities to walk.

Encourage play at different positions and levels – Set up cushions for your child to scramble over or kneel down on the ground to play and encourage him to do the same. This helps them learn how to shift their weight and also develop strength, balance and coordination.

Put your child down in a standing-up position – As long as your child has a safe place to "land," try to put him down into a standing position rather than sitting him down after you've been holding him.

Ditch the socks and shoes – As long as you're on a safe surface at home, try letting your child walk barefooted. Bare feet can grip surfaces more easily than socks or shoes and won't slip like some socks can.

Try push or pull toys – These can make it easier for your child to pull himself up while providing some help with balance. Don't use a walker, though – the American Academy of Pediatrics says they're unhelpful and also dangerous.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Health

Overweight? You might be getting paid less, study says
Overweight? You might be getting paid less, study says

A new study from researchers at LinkedIn suggests workers who are overweight get paid less than their slimmer counterparts. The findings are part of a survey involving 4,000 workers in the United Kingdom.  Survey respondents who classified as obese reported earning an average £1,940 ($2,512) less per year than those with healthy...
Spanking children is harmful and ineffective, pediatricians group warns
Spanking children is harmful and ineffective, pediatricians group warns

To spank or not to spank? A group of pediatricians is against it, according to a new report. Researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement, published in the Pediatrics journal, to recommend “healthy forms of discipline” to parents.  The new statement comes 20 years...
Cancer expected to surpass heart disease as leading cause of death in US, study says
Cancer expected to surpass heart disease as leading cause of death in US, study says

Cancer will soon be the leading cause of death in the United States, according to a new report.  Researchers recently conducted a study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, to explore data that suggests cancer will surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death in America. To do so, they examined the...
Get a taste of Thanksgiving early with this Turducken sandwich and pumpkin pie milkshake
Get a taste of Thanksgiving early with this Turducken sandwich and pumpkin pie milkshake

Already craving Thanksgiving food? Beginning Nov. 13, you can satisfy your Thanksgiving cravings at Potbelly Sandwich Shop with the limited-time Turducken sandwich. The sandwich features a delicious combination of turkey, duck and chicken toasted with cornbread stuffing and topped with a cranberry-honey sauce, mayo, lettuce, cheddar cheese...
High blood pressure by this age raises heart attack risk, study says
High blood pressure by this age raises heart attack risk, study says

High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease. But if you have the condition at a young age, your chances may be even higher. Researchers from Duke University recently conducted a study, published in JAMA, to explore hypertension in younger adults based on new blood pressure levels set by the American College of Cardiology...
More Stories