When it comes to progress with walking, a lot of parents wonder “what’s normal?” Because that first small move forward is actually a giant leap in child development. But how do you encourage your baby to learn to walk?
“A baby will begin to pull themselves up to a standing position while holding onto something around nine months of age,” says Dr. Jay Lovenheim, D.O., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician at Lovenheim Pediatrics in West Orange New Jersey. “After that time, an infant will typically take their first steps, but commonly around a year of age.”
If you’re worried that your little one seems like they might be falling a bit behind, there are all kinds of tricks you can use to encourage your child to learn to walk. “I recommend placing an object of desire for your child just out of reach where they would have to stand to get it,” says Dr. Lovenheim. “Then begin to move the object further away and continue to entice them to get the object; helping your child by propping them up standing while holding onto something will allow them to begin to realize they can support themselves enough to take those first steps.”
There are also plenty of great objects to help teach your child to stand and walk, such as the PortaPlay Convertible Activity Center (pictured below) and the Delta Children First Steps Learn2Walk Balancer (pictured above), however Dr. Lovenheim notes that you can also use common household objects such as the sides of the crib, couch seats, tabletop counters, etc., but always check to make sure the object is sturdy enough to support your child using it for support.
Most children will have taken their first steps by 18 months of age. Beginning at the 9-month visit, your pediatrician will evaluate and track your child’s gross motor skills progression and let you know if they have any concerns. That said, you know your child best, so Dr. Lovenheim underlines that if you have any concerns with your child’s progress, a visit with your pediatrician is a great place to have those concerns addressed.