Once a baby has learned how to move forward by crawling, then comes the next challenge – standing up and eventually walking.
Your baby’s motor skills have been developing since birth, of course, but learning to crawl or scoot around is the great “liberation” milestone. This liberation doesn’t mean that your baby doesn’t want to be with Mom or Dad – it’s a sign that their motor skills are developing and they’re ready to take the next step.
Two developmental steps that usually occur at the same time
What happens after the crawling stage? Dr. Göran Kendorf explains that crawling and sitting independently are two developmental steps that usually occur around the same time.
“When babies learn to walk, they try to get up from a sitting position by primarily using their upper body — that is, arms and hands – and then develop motor ability in their legs, hips and feet. Just like with crawling, development occurs gradually from head to toe.”
From standing to walking: Baby’s first steps
A lot needs to be in place before babies who have pulled themselves up can take those first steps. Dr. Kendorf explains:
“You see babies as young as eight months old who are able to pull themselves up to standing. But then they stand and sway back and forth to find their balance.
Putting one foot in front of the other requires activating many muscles. Several of these muscles are autonomous and controlled by the brain without our having to think about it.
The ability to stand usually appears at around 8-10 months of age. But this age may vary between 9 and 18 months and still be within a normal range.”
How do you encourage a baby’s first steps?
Parents often want to facilitate or even accelerate baby walking. How can you help babies learn to walk?
“If you want to encourage baby walking, there are baby walkers and similar aids,” explains Dr. Kendorf. “But you should remember that these are not suitable for all babies. Some babies prefer to simply stand and then walk with their parents. As always, you should adapt the process to what your baby seems to like.”
If time passes and your baby doesn’t start walking
If time passes and your baby doesn’t start walking, Dr. Kendorf advises contacting your ob-gyn or pediatrician for support. Hopefully they can ease your mind. They can often provide advice and recommendations for seeking further help in the health care system.
He explains that babies who are learning to walk must have progressed far enough with their motor development in order to maintain balance and put one foot in front of the other.
So when do babies start walking? The baby walking age may vary between 9 and 18 months without it being out of the ordinary. Last but not least, a diaper gives your baby a more wide-legged gait – not always a bad thing!
Family: Married with six children (but only two still live at home)
Works as: Medical doctor, specialist in pediatric orthopedics and general medicine
Background: Göran Kendorf is a proud Stockholmer who grew up in one of the city’s southern suburbs. He previously worked at the children’s orthopedic clinic at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital as a children’s hip and foot specialist. He has worked at a private pediatric orthopedic clinic in central Stockholm since 2014.