When will my baby learn to walk?
Walking for the first time is one of the many exciting and memorable milestones in your child's development. Your baby has been preparing to walk from an early age. Now all the rolling, sitting up, bottom shuffling, crawling, furniture cruising and standing culminates in your baby's newest adventure: first steps.
Babies usually start walking sometime between about 10 and 18 months old. Before walking, babies will usually have been crawling (between 7 and 12 months) and pulling themselves up to stand (usually between ages 9 and 12 months).
How does my baby develop walking skills?
To walk, your baby needs to have developed many skills, including balance, coordination, standing up and being able to shift their body weight from one leg to the other.
Each new skill your baby develops builds on the previous skills your baby has learnt. As your baby gets older, the skills they learn get more and more complex.
While your baby was busy crawling and pulling up to stand, then cruising between pieces of furniture, they were building muscle strength. They were also developing skills like balance and coordination, which are all needed for walking and, later, running.
Once your baby starts to walk, they continue this process. They may experiment with moving from the floor to standing then back down again. They may move from sitting to standing and back again, walking, and then squatting to play. All these activities also help strengthen their muscles and balance. They’ll keep on practicing and experimenting to improve their walking skills. They may walk in different directions, on different surfaces and while carrying large toys.
What can I do to help my baby learn to walk?
You can help most by providing a supporting physical and social setting and opportunities to practice walking.
Here are some general tips for helping your baby at this stage:
- Play together — being with or near your child when they explore helps them feel safe and builds their confidence.
- Encourage independent walking — being active and moving around builds your child's muscle strength and posture, which helps your child get better at walking and prepares them for running.
- You can start by positioning yourself about two metres from your baby and encouraging them to walk to you. Once they’ve achieved this you can increase the distance. You can encourage them to push a toy pram or trolley. Once they’re confident walking around, you can set up an obstacle course with soft cushions or foam shapes to walk over or around.
- Make your home safe — as your baby starts to move around the house more, keeping the area around them clear ensures there are no accidents and creates lots of opportunities to walk and explore.
Do not use a baby walker — these do not help your baby learn to walk and can actually delay development of walking skills. They also cause thousands of injuries every year in Australia.
When should I seek help?
If your baby is 18 months or older and isn't walking on their own yet, or if you're concerned about any areas of your baby's development, contact your child’s doctor or a child health nurse for advice.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: June 2022