One of the most exciting developmental milestones your baby will go through is taking her first steps. Typically, babies begin walking when they are 10-12 months old. This can vary; some babies walk even earlier on at about 9 months or some may start later at 18 months of age. It is important to realize that all babies are different, and it is entirely okay if your baby needs a little more time before she is ready to take her first steps. Let’s not forget that in the first year of your little one’s lifetime, she will develop the movement and muscle coordination that will allow her to sit up, crawl, and finally begin walking.
Although your baby will take her first steps on her own time, there are some activities you can do to help her develop and strengthen the muscles she’ll need to begin walking. Here are some simple exercises:
Assisted walking: While your child is seated, stand beside her and grab her hands pulling her up to a standing position. Gently pull one of her arms forward and then the other. She will follow with her feet as her hips rotate. Practice this as much as you can!
Cruising: Let her cruise alongside a sofa. You can help her at first by letting her grab one of your hands and hold herself up with her other hand placed on the sofa. It can be useful to incentivize her by putting one of her favorite toys on the other side of the sofa. This will motivate her to practice walking and eventually do it on her own.
Stool stretch: For this activity you’ll need a baby-sized stool without back support. While your baby is seated on the stool, put her toys on the floor next to her and ask her to bend down and grab one of them. Since she should be able to reach the floor with her toes, the stool should not be very tall. Later on, to make this harder, place the toys a little further. This will help strengthen her back, arm, and leg muscles.
Balls & basket: Place balls or other toys all around the floor and a basket on the other side of the room. Then ask your baby to crawl, pick up the toys, and then place them in the basket. This will help develop her leg muscles and may even motivate her to begin taking her first steps!
Practicing these activities constantly will help your baby develop muscle strength and coordination. Don’t worry if your child takes some time to start walking, she will get there! If you have specific concerns and you notice your little one has not taken her first steps after she’s 18 months old, try consulting with your pediatrician.
For more information, visit:
- How Active is Your Baby?
- Healthy Families BC (Program), British Columbia. Ministry of Health, British Columbia Government E-Book Collection
- HealthLink BC. (2015). Toddler’s first steps: A best chance guide to parenting your 6- to 36-month-old child (4th rev., 2nd, 2015. — ed.). Victoria, B.C.: Ministry of Health