Learning to walk is a step towards independence for babies. But from when babies run? The first signs that your baby is about to walk, we tell you here.
Content reviewed by Kathrin Mattes, physiotherapist
In this article:
Learning to walk: a developmental milestone
It is always amazing how much and especially how quickly children learn in the first years of life. As a newborn, they did almost nothing but sleep, but then development happens so fast: one growth spurt follows the next and suddenly your baby is crawling. Learning to walk is the next big challenge and a real milestone in development.
When do babies?
Some children take their first steps at the age of nine months – for others it takes longer. As a rule, free walking (longer distances) begins when the about child is 13 months of age.
But also consider, That every child is unique and children develop at different rates. While one takes his first steps before the actual stage, it can sometimes take a little longer for babies to learn to walk. Some children are not able to walk until they are 16 or 17 months old – this is also completely normal. Mache are also simply late bloomers. So there is quite a big time span for the, "from when".
Physiotherapist Kathrin Mattes explains to us that there are no guidelines here:
Some children walk longer distances within a very short time after their first free steps, others slowly feel their way forward and increase the number of steps over several months. So there are children who take their first steps early and run longer distances late, children who take their first steps late and run longer distances immediately, and everything in between. This cannot be predicted.
However, if babies are still not walking when they are older than 18 months, you should discuss this with your pediatrician.
Physiotherapy can then be helpful, for example. In general, it can be said that children who have been slower in other developmental steps also take longer to learn to walk. Premature babies are also an exception: Here it is true that they are often a little slower in development.
In the video, you’ll see four clear signs that your child is ready to take his first steps.
First signs that baby will soon be walking
So before your baby takes off, you’ll be able to spot the first signs that your baby is about to walk. This includes:
- Independent pulling up
- Standing freely without holding on
- First attempts at walking
- Sideways steps with holding
If you notice these signs, it often won’t be long before your baby learns to walk. Most of the time it goes much faster than you can see. On average, babies can walk around 10. Walking by hand in the first month of life. However, Mattes sees learning to walk by hand as problematic. She explains:
A child who walks by hand is definitely learning not faster to walk freely than others. And it doesn’t make it any better or easier. On the contrary, the movement sequence is completely different and therefore not helpful, but even hindering.
However, there are also children who show signs but then still need weeks or even months until they are ready to walk on their own. So do not stress, your darling learns at his own pace. The musculature must also be trained first, in order to hold the body weight on two legs.
Even if you can’t wait, don’t push your baby to learn to walk. Instead, enjoy the crawling phase, because as soon as your child takes off on his own, it will be more stressful for you to keep up with the little whirlwind.
Support for the baby: teaching them to walk
How does baby learn to walk? Many parents want to support and encourage their baby to learn to walk. According to Mattes, healthy children learn to walk on their own, even without support. " It is better to savor the crawling phase, because crawling is a very important developmental step and you should not be in a hurry to get away from it. Movement on the ground is important and healthy," she explains.
When your baby takes his first steps, you should also not expect your child to start walking right away. Instead, the still unsteady steps will increase bit by bit. In the beginning, babies are quite wobbly on their feet. The more they walk, the more confident they become. Your child first has to develop a feeling for the new way of moving around. Every step makes your baby a little more independent: Your little baby becomes more and more a toddler.
It is better not to use any walking aids to learn to walk
By the way, baby walkers are usually not recommended, otherwise the musculature cannot develop properly. Above all, walking hoops for sitting down "do not help children learn to walk, because the movement sequence is completely different from that of free walking, and twin studies show that they even delay learning to walk," Mattes explains to us.
Even baby walkers to push a child does not need to learn to walk. However, these aids are less harmful to the child’s development. In addition, if they are tilt-proof and braked, they are a bit safer.
Baby walkers also harbor a Risk of injury, which is not to be underestimated. The pediatrician Dr. Michaela Krieger from Germering says about this in an interview with Bayrischer Rundfunk:
"The focus is not on the bottom of the legs, but on the upper half of the body. If the children have an accident with it, they can not free themselves and thus threaten serious injuries. Unfortunately, we see such cases again and again in our practices, even though warnings have been issued for years against such models."
Shoes can also be safely dispensed with at this stage. It is best for balance, coordination and foot muscles if Teaching babies to walk barefoot. For slippery or cold floors, you can also put on socks with anti-slip rubber, but they should not be too tight.
Even if the baby can walk and is outside on foot, walking barefoot is still healthy (as long as the ground is not too hot or there is no risk of injury.) "If shoes are necessary, I recommend barefoot shoes, which are much less restrictive to the foot and its muscles than conventional shoes," Mattes says.
Make the area around your baby as safe as possible. Anything that can tip over when pulled up should be removed. This includes, for example, shelves that are not screwed to the wall. But also everything that your baby could hurt himself on when falling should be removed or secured. It is now also very important, Securing stairs with a stair gate.
Baby straining shortly before walking?
When babies start to run, parents can often tell by their moods. Just like before crawling or sealing, babies can also get frustrated when learning to walk.
After all, learning to walk is really exhausting and needs a lot of energy, skill and concentration. Keeping your balance is not that easy. Often your baby will land on its bottom for the first time. By the way, a baby that learns to walk and falls down usually has no problem just crawling on or trying again.
As with other developmental milestones, your child may well seek your closeness much more and wake up more often at night. But don’t worry, this phase will also pass. And even if sometimes you don’t believe in it, always remember: So far, every normally developed baby has learned to walk!
For more detailed information about your baby’s development in the first year of life, check out our development calendar: a week-by-week summary of everything you need to know.