When Will My Baby Walk? 5 Tips to Get Her Moving

walkingWatching a baby take her first steps is one of the proudest moments in a parent's life. There's nothing sweeter than seeing your toddler shakily teeter toward you, arms outstretched a la Frankenstein. And while it may seem like your baby still has a long way to go before they've got the walking thing down pat, you'll soon be collapsing from exhaustion after chasing a running toddler around all day.

"Most children wind up walking around their first birthday," says Robyn Strosaker, MD, Director of Inpatient Services at University Hospital's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Some children will start walking a few months earlier and others won't begin strutting their stuff until around 17 or 18 months old.

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You should notice that your baby starts "training" to walk at around 5 months. For example, when you stand her up on your lap or on the floor, and hold her hands, she'll likely bounce up and down. This isn't just because it's fun, she's actually giving those leg muscles a workout to strengthen them for walking. And the more physical milestones (rolling over, sitting up, crawling) your baby gets under her belt, the more she's developing those walking muscles. Before she actually takes those first steps on her own, your toddler will likely get around via "cruising" -- pulling herself up onto furniture and "walking" around that way. Soon after she masters cruising, she'll start to stand on her own. Once she's standing, look out! It's just a matter of time.

Here are some tips to help get your baby moving:

1. Give her a good reason. Once your baby can stand without help, you can help her learn to walk by kneeling in front of her and holding her hands so she'll walk toward you. Try standing a few feet away from her and encourage her to come to you. Hold something she might be interested in getting.

2. Skip the walkers. Save that hard-earned cash for something else. "Walkers do not help children walk earlier," explains Dr. Strosaker. Also, they can be dangerous, given that they can tip over when your baby is using it.

3. Let her go barefoot. Socks can cause a baby to slip and fall, and if shoes are too tight or don't fit properly, they can actually hinder your baby's foot development.

4. Clear the floor. "Keep the floor space clear to help babies walk around easily," says Dr. Strosaker. "Make sure there aren't any sharp corners in which they can bump their heads, and don't leave your baby alone, in case he falls or needs your help."

5. Relax, don't rush it. Don't be alarmed if your baby first starts walking on her tip toes. Many children learn to walk this way. And don't get too concerned if your baby is taking her own sweet time to walk, she'll get there. If she isn't walking by 15 months and isn't bearing weight on her legs, talk to her pediatrician.

What are you doing to encourage your baby to walk?

 

Image via Dermot O'Halloran/Flickr

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