One of the most exciting developmental milestones your baby will go through is taking their 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 they are ready to take their first steps. Let’s not forget that in the first year of your little one’s lifetime, they will develop the movement and muscle coordination that will allow them to sit up, crawl, and finally begin walking.
Although your baby will take their first steps on their own time, there are some activities you can do to help them develop and strengthen the muscles they’ll need to begin walking. Here are some simple exercises:
Assisted walking: While your child is seated, stand beside them and grab their hands pulling them up to a standing position. Gently pull one of their arms forward and then the other. They will follow with their feet as their hips rotate. Practice this as much as you can!
Cruising: Let them cruise alongside a sofa. You can help them at first by letting them grab one of your hands and hold themselves up with their other hand placed on the sofa. It can be useful to incentivize them by putting one of their favorite toys on the other side of the sofa. This will motivate them to practice walking and eventually do it on their 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 their toys on the floor next to them and ask them to bend down and grab one. Since they should be able to reach the floor with their toes, the stool should not be very tall. Later on, to make this harder, place the toys a little further. This will help strengthen their 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 their leg muscles and may even motivate them to begin taking their 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, they will get there! If you have specific concerns and you notice your little one has not taken their first steps after they’re 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