When will my baby start to walk?

Most babies start taking their first steps between 11 and 15 months, but this milestone is hugely variable, and anywhere from 9 to 18 months is really considered normal.

Babies are actually born with an innate knowledge of the movements needed to walk; they just lack the physical strength to do it. If you stand a newborn up on her feet, you’ll see that she instinctually moves one foot in front of the other in a walking-like motion. This so-called stepping reflex seems to disappear at around 4 months, but in actuality babies’ legs simply become too heavy for their muscles to lift. By 6 months, when you support your baby standing up, she won’t slump over because she is learning how to use her leg muscles for strength and her feet for balance. Once the muscles are built up, walking can begin in earnest. This just happens to coincide with the time when the brain is developed enough to handle balance and spatial understanding.



Once your baby can stand upright, encourage her to walk by holding her up by her hands and helping her get across the room. Creating a safe cruising environment and giving your baby plenty of practice balancing also helps give her the confidence to go it alone one day. You can also help encourage your baby to stand and walk by placing her toys on higher surfaces, like a babyproofed coffee table or couch.

These are the steps your child may take on the path to becoming a confident walker. Learning to walk independently involves much more than simply putting one little foot in front of the other.




These typical ages are just a guideline. Some children walk at eight months, while others may not walk until they’re 18 months. See ways to encourage your baby to walk in our milestones article. If you’re concerned about your child’s walking progress, speak to your health visitor.

Your child’s walking timeline



Baby
Birth to two months Your newborn has a walking reflex. If she’s held in a standing position on a hard surface, her legs will move, as if she’s walking. This primitive reflex disappears at around six weeks of age.
Three to four months Your baby can do mini-pushups, which consist of lying on her tummy and raising her head and chest off the ground, using her arms for support. This builds her upper-body muscles, which are crucial for walking.
Five months Your baby has started to bounce up and down when she’s held in a standing position. This movement helps to build her leg strength in the coming weeks and months.

Quick tip. Now’s a good time to childproof your home, before your baby becomes mobile.

Six to nine months Your baby will be sitting on her own, which develops neck strength, head control, balance and coordination. These are important skills for walking.

Most babies will then learn to crawl between the ages of six months and 10 months. Some skip it and move straight to walking.

Eight to 10 months Your baby may be able to support herself in a standing position while holding on to something. If she can do this, she will still sit down with a bump.
Nine to 10 months Your baby may be able to pull herself up to a standing position with the aid of a sturdy object, such as a sofa or table leg. She can do deep knee bends, which allow her to sit after standing. Once she has conquered these moves, she will learn to cruise, taking sliding steps while holding on to something for support.
11 months Your baby can probably stand unsupported for a few seconds, stoop and squat.
Toddler
12 months Your toddler may be able to take her first supported steps while holding on to your hands.
11 to 14 months The first exciting solo steps may be taken, though it’s normal for toddlers to walk any time between nine months and 17 and a half months. Your child’s outstretched arms while she walks help her to keep her balance.
14 to 15 months Most toddlers can walk at this age. Your child may enjoy push-and-pull toys, such as toy trucks or animals on wheels, and she may even be able to walk backwards.

Ask for help if … your toddler isn’t walking by 14 months or 15 months, you could mention it to your health visitor or doctor if you have concerns. But be reassured that it’s still well within the normal range of development.

Babies who bottom shuffle tend to walk later than babies who crawl. The most important thing is that your child can bear weight.

16 months With your help, your toddler can now walk up and down the stairs.
18 months Your toddler will probably be walking well by now, without needing to hold her arms out to balance. She may like dancing to music by now, even if it is a little out of step with the beat!
19 to 24 months Your toddler may increase her speed to a run and enjoy clutching something in her hands while she walks. Soon after her second birthday, she may learn to jump from a low step on to the floor. She may start to kick a ball.
25 to 30 months Your child can walk up, but perhaps not down, stairs while holding on to a rail or wall. Comfortable with running, she’s ready to play a game of tag or ring a-ring o’roses with you.

She probably loves playing on climbing equipment at the playground, but make sure you stay close by.

Did you know? The foot your child prefers using is called her lead foot. You will probably notice that eventually she will learn to write with the hand on the same side as this lead foot.

31 to 36 months Your child can jump up and down with her feet together, and move left and right. By the time she’s three, she should be able to walk up and down the stairs, even if she’s carrying her favourite teddy in one arm. Being able to dribble a ball will come later.
Preschooler
Four years Your child is learning to balance and hop on one foot, and prefers using one foot over the other. She can ride a tricycle with ease and can run on her tiptoes.

Did you know? The speed at which a baby learns a new skill is often inherited from her parents. If you or your partner walked early or late, then there is a chance your baby will be the same.

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