How To Encourage and Help Your Baby Learn To Walk
Help your baby learn to walk! Encourage and teach your baby these age appropriate activities and exercises with toys during play. These tips will help improve your baby’s physical development and reach the next big milestone: walking!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Does it seem like your baby should have learned to walk by now? All the other babies her age are walking like a pro but yours is still trying to master crawling. If this is your first baby, you might be unsure about when babies learn to walk. In this article you learn about the important baby milestone of walking, when babies actually reach this milestone and how you, as the parent, can help teach and encourage your baby to learn to walk.
Important Baby Milestone: Baby Learns To Walk
Walking is one of the most memorable baby milestones for parents. This is when typically mom yells to dad “Honey, get the camera, quick hurry!” and then before you know it your baby took his first steps. All in a matter of 4 seconds and it’s done!
Those 4 seconds are priceless and absolutely worth capturing on camera. When my first 3 babies learned to walk, I made sure they didn’t take their actual first steps independently until my husband was home from work. I didn’t want him missing the big moment.
So when did my babies learn to walk? My first born learned to walk at 11 months old. My second learned at 11.5 months and my third born learned a week after her first birthday. Now I’m teaching my fourth born to walk. She is 14 months old and still is not walking by herself.
Does that concern me? Not one bit. Why? Because I know she is developing at her own pace and every month that goes by she’s making improvements towards walking. If she was not showing signs of progression towards walking, then I may want to call the doctor and get his advice. But as long as I see changes in her gross motor skills, then I’m not concerned.
When Do Babies Learn To Walk?
The most important thing to remember is that every baby develops at his own rate. No baby is the same, and it’s important to not compare your baby to other babies.
With that said, on average, typically babies take their first steps (holding something or not) around 9-12 months of age.
By the time they are 14 or 15 months of age, typically babies are walking well enough to do it on their own.
But if your child is older than 14 or 15 months, there’s no need to worry. Even normal babies might not learn until 16 or 17 months of age.
If you are concerned about your baby’s development in relation to his age, always consult your pediatrician for an assessment.
How To Teach Your Baby To Walk
If you want to help encourage your baby to learn to walk, there are some activities and exercises you can do with your baby to help improve his gross motor skills.
Before walking, your baby will learn to roll, sit up, crawl and pull to stand. The muscles required for these milestones must be fully developed before walking is initiated by your baby. This is the natural progression for all babies to go through.
Jena’s Tip: The more time you spend on the floor with your baby, playing and helping him, the faster he will learn to walk.
6 Month Activity: Standing On Your Thighs Bouncing
This is a great age to have your baby stand on your lap while you are sitting down. Have your baby face you while you encourage your baby to stand and bounce on your lap. Play a fun sound with a good beat or sing a fun nursery rhyme. Hold your baby under his armpits and around his chest (rather than pulling on his arms).
9 Month Activity: Pull To Stand At A Table
One of my favorite baby toys is the standing activity table. I love how it’s so versatile and allows for baby to play with toys in an upright standing position. I like to sit behind my baby with my legs crossed while she is standing so that if she falls down into a sitting position, I can quickly assist her to stand back up again as she pulls on the table. My legs act as a slight cushion for her fall. The repetitive sitting and standing is a great was to help train her muscles and develop muscle memory.
My legs act as a slight cushion for her fall. The repetitive sitting and standing is a great was to help train her muscles and develop muscle memory.
12 Month Activities To Help Baby Learn To Walk:
At the age of 12 months, you as the parent want to really start encouraging and helping your baby learn to walk. There are many various activities and exercises you can do to help your baby develop muscle strength and balance that is required for walking.
1. Assisted Walking
This is the classic way to teach your baby to walk. It requires more time and energy from the parents but is really the best way to teach our baby to walk.
Stand behind your baby by holding both of her hands. If your baby is not yet standing with support through her legs, then don’t force it. Your baby should feel like she is fully standing but just needs a little support for balance and stabilizing.
While holding her hands close to her ear height, stabilize her while moving forward. She will naturally take steps on her own. Do not pull up or lift her too much as this will not help her to learn to put weight through her legs. You want to encourage your baby to do as much on her own as possible without her falling.
Eventually you may only need to hold on to one hand instead of two hands.
Jena’s Tip: Your baby may enjoy holding a ball or her favorite small toy in her hands while walking. It gives her a sense of security.
2. Cruise Around Activity Table
At this age, continue to encourage your baby to have fun at the activity table, but now she will be more curious to move around the table by taking side steps. This is one step closer to walking (no pun intended!)
As the parent, play with various sections of the activity table to help entice your baby to move around the table more.
3. Cruising Along Couch, Bed, Table, Other Furniture At Lower Heights.
When there is a piece of furniture that is the perfect height, low enough for your baby’s arms to rest on top or grab onto without slipping, then your baby will enjoy cruising around and exploring at great lengths.
Your baby will walk sideways rather than forward walking. Typically babies like to hold onto furniture with two hands.
To encourage your baby to move around the furniture, get her favorite toys and place them in various spots. If your baby is standing on the right side of the couch, place two of her favorite toys on the left side of the couch. And then keep switch sides.
4. Standing With A Step Stool Or At The Bottom Of Steps
This is a great way to encourage your baby to climb up steps to a standing position and then climb back down to a comfortable sitting position. It helps the baby to sit without falling down hard on their bottoms. The more activities they perform in an upright position, the better muscle development they will have.
5. Standing And Kicking A Ball
This is a great family activity for you and your husband. One parent holds your babies hands while standing behind her while the other parent rolls balls at your babies feet like bowling. Encourage your baby to kick the balls that come towards her. This helps encourage your baby to lift one foot at a time (like stepping motion). You can also place a bunch of balls in front of your baby and have her kick them all around.
Are Baby Walkers A Good Way To Help My Baby Learn To Walk?
Baby walkers actually hinder the baby’s ability to learn to walk because your baby ends up relying on the support of the walker and does not develop core strength. It’s used as a crutch. Yes the walker helps the baby to get that walking rhythmic motion in her legs, but ultimately your baby needs to learn to support her weight through her legs and balance more than the automatic stepping motion that babies are naturally born with at an early age.
Baby Center stated this about baby walkers:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages the use of baby walkers. Because they make it so easy for your child to get around, walkers can prevent a baby’s upper leg muscles from developing correctly. And because they make it possible for a baby to reach hot items or poisons that a child wouldn’t normally be able to get to, they’re less safe.
Should I Have My Baby Wear Shoes When Learning To Walk?
No, it’s best to have your baby learn to walk in bare feet. This helps your baby’s muscles in her feet to develop strength, balance and coordination more than with shoes on.
Of course when you are out of the home, we recommend wearing shoes, but while at home, shoeless is best!
When it comes time for your baby to take her first steps, cherish that moment and make a memory out of it. It’s a special time in your baby’s life but also just as special for mommy and daddy to experience.
If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s development, you can always comment below. I would love to help. How old is your baby? What does your baby like to do for fun? What milestones has he or she met already?
Up next, check out the best tips for taking your little one shopping. Now that your kiddo is getting closer to running around, how do you even manage taking him or her to the store? How do you contain this ball of energy? Read 17 Expert Tips For Cry Free Shopping With Kids to find out how.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.