The first year is full of major developmental milestones, topped by the monumental task of walking. But don't worry if her first birthday passes without a single step. Your baby is probably just as anxious about walking as you are. She instinctively knows that walking will open up the world for her to new adventures. Chances are, she'll begin walking within a few months, but talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns.
Few things excite or worry parents more than those first tentative steps. They're a joy when they come, and they cause anxiety when they're late. You can relax, though, if your baby hasn't taken his first steps yet. About 95 percent of babies walk between 9 and 17 months, but over half don't take their first steps until after 12 months, according to pediatrician Alan Greene, author of "From First Kicks to First Steps." As long as baby is interested in moving, you've likely got nothing to worry about. Your baby may be crawling, shuffling on his bottom or pulling up on furniture. All these activities tell you he's on his way to walking.
Like so many aspects of infant development, the age of walking often has a genetic basis. If you walked early, chances are, your baby may walk early, too. A baby surrounded by loving siblings and family members may not feel the need to walk because her every need is met by her adoring fans. A baby that's particularly adept at crawling or bottom shuffling may have less interest in walking, suggests pediatrician Ilona Bendefy, author of "Baby Day By Day." Whatever the reason, your baby will eventually walk.
Set for Success
Although you can't make your baby walk, you can set up an environment that encourages him. Let your baby walk barefoot, if possible, which builds foot strength, balance and dexterity. Opt for soft, leather shoes that mimic bare feet during cold weather, or if she needs some foot protection. Don't use walkers, which are unsafe, and skip the baby activity centers as much as possible. When he has free access to his environment, he's more likely to want to walk. When he takes those first tentative steps, give him a smile, a squeeze and a little cheer, but don't overdo the praise, suggests Greene. Walking is its own reward. Instead, enjoy his pride in himself.
Babies generally go through a predictable series of steps before they become fully independent walkers. Your baby may pull herself up on furniture or on her crib, but may not know how to get back down. Remove furniture, such as a stool, that may topple over when she grabs it. Teach her how to get back down to a sitting position. Later, your baby may begin to cruise—shuffling around while clutching the furniture for dear life. Be sure to pad sharp surfaces so the environment is as safe as possible. At every point, baby is looking to you for assurance. By helping her through each stage safely, you build trust and encourage her to keep moving forward.