How To Encourage and Help Your Baby Learn To Walk

by May 22, 2019

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.

Related: 17 Expert Tips For Cry Free Shopping With Kids

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.

 

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    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).

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    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.

    Related: 15 Best Mommy And Me Postpartum Exercises With Baby | VIDEO

     

    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?

    Absolutely NOT!

    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.

     

    Keep Smiling,

    Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT

    This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

     

    About Dr. Jena Bradley

    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. 

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    6 Comments

    1. Mylissa

      Hi! At what age did she actually end up walking? My son is 17 months and still not walking on his own. He will cruise around if he can hold on to something but if it’s a far distance he will walk on his knees. Any suggestions?

      Thank you!

      Reply
      • Jena Bradley

        Hi Mylissa,
        My daughter in this post ended up walking at 16 months. At her 15 month check-up the pediatrician was not concerned about her not being able to walk independent. As long as she showed progress towards walking (such as cruising on furniture was great progress) then she was fine. Typically the age the pediatricians wants a baby to learn to walk is by 18 months. If your child is not walking by then, they may suggest early intervention which is a great service that offers physical therapy geared towards walking skills. Let me know if you have any other questions.

        Reply
    2. Katelyn

      Hi Jena,

      I wanted to first thank you so much for sharing all your parenting and fitness expertise on your blog! I am so grateful to have found this resource and really enjoy your posts. Thank you so much for all you do to empower mommas!

      I wanted to ask you about my 9 month old if you don’t mind. He has loved to stand up supported by us since a young age so we did a lot of standing and bouncing on our laps. Eventually around 6 months he started taking a few steps when supported by our hands. At 9 months he is now a very proficient walker using our fingers (we hold them at his ear height as you suggest). He guides us around, picks up and decreases speed, and even lets go of a hand and bends down/reaches to
      grab or touch things. He will also let go completely at times to grab on to furniture and balance himself. He can cruise a little bit but prefers turning back to me for support.

      I am wondering if this is all premature, as he is not crawling or pulling to a stand on his own yet. We do tummy time 4 ish times a day for as long as he will tolerate (which can be a good chunk, often 25-30 mins). He pivots on his tummy and goes backwards but hasn’t quite gotten the concept of forward yet. He can roll in both directions but doesn’t use it for getting to locations, just for changing positions. He has not pulled to a stand yet on furniture, but can somewhat pull up on me when I hold out my hands, as his favourite mode of transportation is walking while supported by me.

      I’m wondering if I could get your advice on this? I have been trying to take his lead movement wise, but in your view, is supporting his walking a bit premature given the delay in his other milestones? Or is it ok to follow his lead so long as I provide time for independent movement on the floor? And how would you better encourage independent movement?

      Thank you so much in advance for help!

      Katelyn

      Reply
      • Jena Bradley

        Katelyn, these are all great questions and I am so happy to help. You as your baby’s mom are not doing anything wrong in assisting him in his walking desire. Keep up with good work. It is completely ok if he skips crawling all together and goes straight to walking as his first big milestone. I think the fact that you are so involved in helping him has given him a great opportunity to be on his feet and he knows that it’s easier to walk compared to crawling all on his own, so he chooses to save his energy for the stuff he likes best…WALKING!! I would encourage him to keep walking and let him have fun on the floor doing whatever he loves to do. I like the amount of time you are doing tummy time a day, so you are not hindering him from having the opportunity to learn to crawl. That’s the most important thing, giving him opportunities, which you are. The fact that he is 9 months old don’t concern me. I know babies that started walking at 10 months old so he could definitely be an earlier walker. So continue to follow his lead, give him plenty of tummy time but focus on playing with him in the way he likes to be positioned. Variety is always best! Let me know how it goes!

        Reply
        • Katelyn

          Wow thank you so much for the very kind and very detailed reply! I so appreciate your time and knowledge! I will absolutely let you know how it goes. Hope you are having a lovely summer!

          Reply
          • Jena Bradley

            Katelyn, You’re welcome. The summer has been great so far. Stay safe and cool!

            Reply

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    Hi there, friend! I’m Jena, a mom of 4 and a Physical Therapist with a passion to motivate moms! I want to inspire you to be your best self by sharing my experiences and trusted advice on motherhood, health and fitness.

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