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What makes your little one walk?

baby girl standing up while holding her father's hands

Key points:
1. Learning to walk typically takes around 12 months, as many skills and muscles need to develop first.
2. Strong neck, arm, core, and leg muscles are essential for walking.
3. Your child needs to learn how to reach for objects to pull themselves up and maintain balance.
4. Encourage practice through play to build muscle strength and coordination for walking.

Witnessing your little one’s first steps is an exhilarating experience, and it’s about to become even more interesting! Once you know everything behind this incredible milestone, you’ll be amazed by your child’s accomplishment.

On average, it takes babies around 12 months to learn how to walk, because they have so many other behaviors to learn beforehand, and so many muscles to strengthen. Beginning with head and posture control, all the way to standing up all on their own. You’ll notice how their whole body will need to be pretty strong.

Once your little one is able to hold their head up, their next step is to sit up without support; which occurs between 6 and 8 months. Your child is not only using their lower body to walk, they need to have strong arms, core and neck muscles as well.

Besides this, they also need to learn how to reach for things. This is necessary, in order to grab on to an object and pull themselves to a standing position. It is also necessary when they are trying to maintain their balance. They need strong arms and core muscles to accomplish it, and plenty of practice. Little by little, they will start to do it without help and even hold the position for a few seconds.

Once they have mastered standing up with support and has improved their coordination, they will start sliding when holding on to furniture to try to get an object. This all builds a strong foundation for them to give their first steps.


They have been trying out different things with you by their side, so their confidence is growing stronger and this feeling will help them try new and different things. One day, they will give walking a go. They might even start walking without realizing what they are doing. Using objects for support or maybe the fact that you are next to them holding their hand makes them feel safe enough to try.

How can they build the muscle strength needed for walking? Practice and practice. It’s like an athlete that doesn’t train before a race, they will not have what it takes! The same thing happens with your little one, so how can you help them out?

You’ve probably watched them play tirelessly for months now. Fun and games are great ways for toddlers to master skills while having fun. One of the best things you can do to help them out is to give them opportunities to practice their set of skills in a safe environment.

Here are some cool activities you can try at home to support their walking skills:

  • Encourage ballistic reaching skills: As we mentioned, they need to develop reaching before walking. One fun way to encourage it is to place dangling toys in front of them. It can be while they are on a bouncing seat. They will try to reach and grab them, and after a few times you’ll see them accomplish this on their own.
  • Runway for crawlers: Gather a towel and a small baby blanket. Lay them out in a line. Sit at one end and encourage your baby to crawl towards you, by cheering them on. This will help strengthen their muscles and improve their coordination. These gross motor skills can be precursors of walking.
  • Grab and go for a walk: Put one of your baby’s favorite objects just out of reach. Encourage them to grab it and then bring it to you. This will contribute to foster muscle coordination, motor planning, and even problem-solving skills.
  • Roll on the floor together: While both of you are laying on the floor, create a cool game in which you need to roll on the floor. Waist and legs will be moving together, which helps coordination. You can also modify the game and try different moves. For example, tell them to roll while putting their legs up in the air. This won’t be possible and you’ll both have a laugh, while they also put into use their cause and effect thinking, trying to figure out what’s keeping them from rolling. Encourage them to explore more moves to help them develop more muscle control.
  • Floor play: Give them time to play on the floor, to move around freely from one place to another, and to explore new movements and skills. Keep them on the move.
  • Make an obstacle course! You can use pillows, boxes, or toys, and encourage them to move. They can crawl, grab, or even climb them fostering their strength and coordination.
  • Take them for a walk! If they are not walking yet, they might see other children walking and want to try it too. This can be a great motivation for your little one to start walking on their own. During these walks, you can hold their hands and give them support to try and take a few steps. Take advantage of safe surfaces, such as grass, so they can get a taste of what it feels like to walk on different surfaces.

Remember, every kid moves at their own pace and your little one is working on what they need before they are ready to give their first steps. As they keep practicing the same movements again and again, their balance will become better and their confidence will grow.

Much of their development abilities will be determined by the interactions they have with you. Make them count!

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