It is an interesting and fulfilling experience to see your baby finally taking those independent steps to explore the world around him after overcoming a series of motor milestones. He gets on to his tummy first, then rolls over, after which he goes on all fours, sits on his own, then stands and eventually begins walking. Some of them may skip rolling over and crawling, directly moving on to cruising around once they can stand unassisted between the eighth and tenth month .
At what age do babies learn to walk
Most babies begin taking their first steps between nine and twelve months of age. By the time they are fourteen or fifteen months old, they start moving about with ease. However, some may take sixteen or even eighteen months to walk without support, which is fine as long as they are physically active [1, 6].
Earliest age a baby can walk
Babies with advanced motor skills may walk as early as eight months.  A baby boy in the United Kingdom began walking on his own when he was just six months old .
How do babies learn to walk: Step by step timeline
|Age in Months||Milestones met|
|0-2||Because of the presence of the stepping or walking reflex from birth till about two months, babies push their feet forward just like walking when held in an upright posture [1,2,3].|
|3-4||Does mini pushups during tummy time by lifting his head and shoulders with support from his arms [1, 4].|
|6-7||Bounces up and down when held in a standing posture [5,6]|
|8 -10||Sit unsupported, tries getting to a standing position while holding onto furniture, figures out ways to bend his knees, bends to pick his toy when standing [6,8].|
|11-12||Most will stand without help for a couple of seconds, might walk a few steps with support [8, 9].|
|13-15||Begins walking unsteadily, stands on his own, might attempt walking backward [8,10]|
|16||Walking gets better, adapts the skill of walking backward, shows interest in going up the stairs.|
|17-18||Starts climbing furniture, can go up the stairs with support though cannot come down, attempts kicking a ball, enjoys dancing to music [6, 8], learns to run .|
|19-24||Runs with ease, loves to walk while carrying an object in hand, learns jumping from a low height to the floor [8, 11, 12], learns kicking a ball with ease when in standing posture .|
|25- 30||Walking gets better, jumping improves, can climb the stairs on his own [1, 8, 12].|
|31 -36||Starts riding a tricycle, can stand on one foot for a short span , jumps with ease .|
|36 to 48||Can go up and down the stairs, mastered movements of kicking, throwing and catching a ball, climbs with ease, runs well, walks in a front and back motion comfortably .|
What is the best baby shoes for walking
If your baby is walking indoors, let him go around barefooted to attain balanced and coordinated movements. Moreover, wearing shoes for a prolonged period might squash his feet, restricting it from growing in a proper way. He will need shoes only when taken outdoors. Choose leather, canvas or cotton shoes rather than the ones made of plastic as they may make his feet sweat causing fungal infections like athlete’s foot [1, 14]. Shoes with rubber and lightweight soles are preferred to reduce chances of sliding and slipping , while hard soled shoes hamper the proper movement of his feet . While purchasing your baby’s shoes, make sure that it fits him well, also having ample growing space .
Measure your baby’s feet in every 6 to 8 weeks, as he keeps needing new shoes quite often till four years of age, after which measurements may be taken at a three-month interval .
How to teach and encourage your baby to walk
- As your little one is a good imitator by the time he reaches the walking age, bend your knees to show him how he can get to a sitting posture from standing without falling or toppling .
- Encourage your kid to walk by placing his favorite playthings at a distance, the sight of which may increase his willingness to advance towards it .
- Toys to help babies walk with support, like a toddle truck or pull toys, can be introduced to make his newfound skill fun-filled and productive . You may even opt for a baby walking harness while taking him out for a walk.
- Keeping in mind your baby’s urge to repeat what you do, try amusing activities with him like sitting down with your legs stretched, attempting to touch your toes while sitting, or imitating animal moves. This helps in increasing his flexibility.
- Play the chasing game or roll a ball in different directions for your baby to catch.
- Hold your baby’s hand and help him walk for greater distances as it will improve his balance also providing him the confidence to walk with ease .
- When you are busy in other household chores, you can make your baby stand in an activity station having lovely toys attached to it.
Are baby walkers safe
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of baby walkers because of the dangers and hazards associated with it. In fact, a baby put on a walker would find it much easy to move around, missing out on the challenges and difficulties associated with the process of learning to walk. Therefore, he may be lagging behind in flexibility, with his leg muscles not developing properly [1, 16].
Moreover, walkers are extremely unsafe for babies, giving them easy access to certain common items like perfumes and medicines. The ones with wheels are even more dangerous, increasing the risk of injuries as they have a high speed, that may cause the baby to topple or collide against any furniture, gas stove, or even fall from the stairs [21, 22].
Safety tips for your baby’s first steps
- Precautionary measures around the house: It is required to block all electrical outlets. Install baby gates at the top and bottom of the staircases. Guards are to be fixed on windows so that they open up to a gap of not more than four inches [9, 23]. It is safe to place his crib at a distance from the windows. Curtains without pull cords and cordless window blinds should be used to prevent the risk of strangulation .
- Keep harmful objects away: Certain things of daily use like coins, batteries, knives, scissors, cleaning products, alcohol, soaps, fridge magnets, flat irons, hair dryers, lipstick, and shampoos are to be placed inside well-locked cabinets and drawers [23, 24, 25].
- Safeguard your furniture: Add a pad or cushion to furniture having sharp edges such as a coffee table, so that your little one does not cut or bruise his head. Paintings, bookcases, and television sets should be arranged securely on the wall. In order to prevent your furniture from tipping and falling as your baby enthusiastically attempts to pull or grab at it, place heavier items on the bottom shelves and drawers to make the top of it light [17, 24, 25]. If you have an office or gym at home, lock and latch them well when your are not using it .
- Be cautious about your kitchen: While arranging pots and pans, keep their handles towards the back wall so that your kid cannot pull at it easily [23, 24]. Safety latches are to be installed on freezers, refrigerators and oven doors. Secure the fireplace in your kitchen by putting a grill around it. Kitchen appliances and spices should be kept in locked cabinets, whereas edibles like jam, sauce and cheese should be stored in the refrigerator.
- Supervise your baby: When your child is learning to walk, be by his side rather than leaving him alone, to avoid any accident.
When to call a doctor
Though delayed walking is not always due to a physical or intellectual disability, consult a doctor to ensure that your baby is fine if he does not walk with ease after eighteen months of age [6, 26]. Toe walking is common when your baby is cruising about, but bring it up to your health care provider if it persists after two years of age or is done too often by your kid, as it might indicate a problem in his muscles or certain neurological disorders [18, 27].
It is common for babies to hurt themselves while they are learning to walk. However, medical attention is required if your baby has injured his head, also having the symptoms of drowsiness and vomiting .[ref]