Long story short: there is no right time!
When you google: when do babies start walking, just like we did :), you’ll find that there might be a range, between the age of 12 and 15 months, but some babies may start as early as 7 or 9 months or later, around 20 months!
So, the answer to “when do babies walk” is: there is no right time.
If you are googling “when do babies walk” you are probably expecting that to happen at any point now and, very likely, comparing your baby to other babies. I know, right. Guilty here! Sorry, but we can’t help it!
No matter if you are a modern mom who believes that being cool is the way to go, a sustainable dad who only purchases non-toxic and organic baby stuff, or the adventurous auntie who knows the benefits of playing in the wild, we all, at some level, wonder if we are doing the right thing!
We want to know if our baby is developing well, if we are missing out on something, how we can help, what is the limit between positive encouragement and negative pressuring (!)
We all do it, after all, we want to make sure we are taking good care of our loved little ones!
We also know that our trusted family doctor or pediatrician are the best people to ask questions to, but who resists Dr. Google, right? I know we don’t!
That being said, let’s address 2 important things about first walkers:
- There is no proved correlation between how early a baby starts walking and how he will develop intellectually or physically later in life.
This 2013 study, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), showed that babies reach developmental milestones (sitting, grabbing, crawling, standing, walking) at very different ages and none of it has any impact on how they will perform in school by the age of 7. In short, by the time they reach school age, children who start walking later than others are just as well-coordinated and intelligent as those who were up on their feet early.”
So let’s set ourselves free from comparisons!
- Do not use baby walkers.
For 2 main reasons:
- They may cause serious injuries. Based on this study, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends against walkers. Not only babies can trip and fall suffering head, neck and skull injuries, they can also reach places they normally wouldn’t otherwise, like TV racks and bookshelves, exposing themselves to harmful situations.
- Baby walkers may actually DELAY the natural walking process. In this AMAZING article, Dr. Claire McCathy, MD explains that learning how to walk is not and overnight event, it’s a step in a chain of events. She says that it is more related to learning how to pull to stand and to body balance than to just learn how to use the legs. Considering that, she recommends we watch our babies closely, giving them just enough space to develop as they feel safe and supported with our presence.
So, what are the signals that our baby is getting ready to walk?
After all is there anything we can do to help our babies walk AND to have the phone ready to register those first steps?
Well, again, there is no rule. Not all babies crawl before walking (shocking, I know!), but at some level, most babies will:
- Pull to stand: they really try to stand up, they will look for support: you, the couch, the dog…
- Cruise: they are likely to move along the furniture, like little drunk humans, with no balance or full control of their movements.
All of this can go on for days, weeks or months before they can actually walk by themselves.
On top of that, confidence is crucial. Cheering them up when they accomplish something new, comforting them when they fall and encouraging them to try again is how we help.
Oh, and if you are wondering what is the best shoe for first walkers, the answer is: no shoes! Because walking is about balance, barefoot is the best way for them to feel the ground.
But going out of the house barefoot may be unsafe, so in this case, pediatricians recommend soft sole shoes for first walkers.
If you feel like there is anything wrong with your baby or something is bothering you, always look for a professional and follow your guts!
Every day we discover new things about babies. It is exciting, challenging, surprising, and a roller-coaster of emotions!
What about you? How do you feel about the new challenges of parenthood?