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At What Age Should My Child Be Walking?

Photograph by Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

Every new milestone your baby reaches on time is reassurance that she's developing normally, but there's no exact "on time" point for a baby's first steps. Some infants start walking as early as 9 months, some as late as 16 months or later. Don't panic if she's content to crawl while her friends toddle. As long as she's making progress in her physical development, it's a safe bet that she'll catch up when she's ready.

The Road to Walking

Learning to walk doesn't happen overnight. Infants first need to develop muscles to support their weight and figure out how to coordinate their arms and legs, says the website ZerotoThree. Most of that happens when he's between 6 and 10 months old. He might scoot backward, hold himself up on all fours, roll around on the floor or master the traditional forward crawl. Give the baby a large, open and safe space to explore and entice him to move forward by placing favorite toys out of reach.

Awkward First Steps

The rare baby will simply tire of the floor one day, and just stand up and walk. Most infants, however, ease into walking. She might spend weeks repeatedly pulling herself up using the edge of a table, only to stand still. She might also take a few halting steps as she holds onto furniture or a hand. At 11 months, an infant may walk while holding onto furniture, then step out with one hand held a month later says a report on The American Pregnancy Association website. The HealthyChildren site says some babies will already be walking, and talking, by that time.

Delayed Walking

If you've blown out the candles on his first birthday cake and he still seems nowhere close to walking, start keeping a written log of his physical skills. As long as he's steadily gaining new skills—for instance, becoming more coordinated at crawling, pulling himself up to standing—there's probably no cause for concern. In fact, says AskDrSears.com, some babies will be 16 months old before they start walking. A baby who walks late may be less accident prone than his peers, and this delay may just be the result of having an easygoing temperament. But, if the baby's physical development is stalled or regressing, or if he hasn't taken a step by 16 months, contact his pediatrician.

What Comes Next

Once your baby discovers the big world that was previously out of reach, she's going to want to explore it. Make her expanded world a safe one with a baby-proofing refresher. Check that all outlets are covered, all toilet seats locked, all cords are out of reach and all light or unbalanced pieces of furniture are secured to walls. All staircases need baby gates secured at the tops and bottoms with hardware; spring-loaded gates aren't safe enough. As for your baby's steps themselves, don't worry if her gait looks awkward. New walkers may walk on their toes or with their toes pointed inward, says KidsHealth, and these tendencies usually go away on their own.

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