You can find articles online providing instructions on how to help your baby learn to walk. Is this smart, though?
To help you better understand when your child should start walking, let’s run through a fairly normal development timeline:
Newborn to two months - From birth, babies have natural reflexes to brace their legs against a surface they feel under their feet. If you hold your newborn upright on your lap, supporting his or her head, you'll feel them trying to use their legs. They’re not actively trying to walk; it's just instincts kicking in. For the time being, your baby’s legs aren't nearly strong enough for him or her to stand. (This reflex starts to disappear after a couple of months.)
Five months to 10 months - By the time your baby is around five months old, if you let them balance their feet on your thighs, they'll start to bounce up and down. Bouncing will become a favorite activity over the next couple of months. Many babies love jumping up and down in those door bouncers, but parents don’t often consider how much stressful force is being placed on their feet. It’s important to remember that the bones in babies’ feet aren’t developed enough to handle those forces.
As your baby learns to roll over, sit, and crawl, his or her muscles will continue to strengthen. Between eight months and ten months, they will probably start trying to pull themselves up to stand while holding onto furniture. If you prop your child up next to the sofa, he or she will hang on for support.
As your baby gets better at standing, he or she will start to cruise (moving around upright while holding on to furniture). They may then feel confident enough to let go of any support and stand unaided. Once your baby is ready to let go of the furniture, he or she may be able to take steps when you hold their hands. Your baby may even stoop to pick up a toy when standing.
Nine months to one year - At nine months or 10 months your baby will begin to work out how to bend their knees and learn to sit after standing. This is actually harder than you may think!
By 11 months your baby will probably be able to stand without support, along with stooping and squatting. By 12 months, they may be able to walk while gripping your hand, though they may not take their first steps alone for a little while longer, which is completely fine.
At 13 months, your child may start walking on his or her own, but probably a bit unsteadily. If your child still hasn't stopped cruising, it just means walking on their own is going to take a little longer. Some children don't walk until they are 17 months or 18 months old, and that is perfectly okay.
As long as your child is bearing weight on his or her legs and shows an interest in learning new things, you don't have to be concerned. Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others. If your child took a little longer learning to crawl than others of the same age, chances are they'll need a few more months for walking as well.
If your baby seems to be lagging behind and isn't walking by 18 months, talk to your doctor or health provider. The speed at which a baby learns a new skill is often inherited from the parents. If you or your partner walked early or late, then there is a chance your baby will be the same. Keep in mind that if your baby was born early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), they may reach this and other milestones later than other babies.
In the event you have any concerns about your child's foot or ankle health, we can provide the diagnosis and treatment to correct the condition. Simply contact our Indianapolis, IN office by calling (317) 545-0505 and our staff will be glad to answer any questions or set you up with an appointment.