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A toddler walking timeline

It might seem as though Baby is having a pretty relaxing time right now. She has free room and board, all the food her heart desires, no chores, no taxes, and at least 99.9% of your attention. Could life get any easier for her? Actually, the ability to walk on her own might help out a little.

Keep in mind that every child is different, and each develops at a rate that is uniquely right for her. Baby will start walking when she is ready – not necessarily when you, your friend’s child, or the neighbor’s child did!

This being said, it’s helpful to know the general timeline of what you can expect as Baby grows and starts to learn to walk.

Between birth and 6 months old

For the first 3 months of life, Baby will probably be limited to contained movements. These include raising her head while lying on her stomach, following things with her eyes, and walking in the air (a reflex!) when she is held upright with her feet dangling.

By 6 months, most babies become significantly more involved with their environments and start trying to grab at and touch things. She will also be doing a lot of kicking, rolling around, and bouncing up and down.

How can you encourage her at this stage? Embrace the bounce! Baby isn’t just doing this for fun – she is strengthening her lower body in preparation for a her first steps.

Between 6 and 12 months

Around this time, Baby will most likely start making some serious attempts to stand. By the time a year rolls around, Baby could have started crawling or even standing upright – although she probably won’t know how to lower down to the ground, so thank goodness for those soft, cushiony diapers.

How can you encourage Baby at this stage? Give her a safe, open room to explore larger spaces, and keep an eye on her to see if she would like assistance standing up or even taking a few shaky steps. Many children will also do some cruising between crawling and walking – pulling themselves into a standing position, and then walking along by holding onto furniture. For this reason, it’s important that any furniture that’s at Baby‘s grabbing-height is relatively stable and steady. Push-walking toys can also be fun transitional objects to help Baby along on her way.

Keep in mind that walking is one of Baby’s many concerns – she is also learning verbal intonation, recognizing objects, grasping objects in a new way, and learning how to answer your questions!

Between 12 and 18 months

By this time, Baby may start taking individual steps – incorrectly at first – and then walking. She will probably still use crawling as a preferred means of transportation. She could be crawling up and down stairs, hopping up and down, and even dancing! (Maybe not a salsa or anything, but hey, hip-shaking to music is progress.)

How can you encourage Baby at this stage? Make sure there are no sharp edges or objects in the areas she explores, and encourage – but don’t force! – Baby to try walking more by asking her to bring you things that are slightly far away.

Between 18 and 24 months

On average, children at this age can walk, bend to pick objects up, and climb stairs on their own two feet. Exciting – now Baby can start learning the invaluable skill of cleaning up her own toys! By this time Baby can probably run, too, so get ready for some spontaneous workouts.

How can you encourage Baby at this stage? If she is walking, take her on new walks that have things to see, smell, hear, and touch. Play ‘exercise’ with her, stretching and going through simple obstacle courses, to challenge Baby and make movement more fun.

Don’t forget that Baby will do things according to her internal timeline, and not necessarily the one we’ve provided. Growing up takes a lot of work! Try to enjoy these months when Baby has no choice but to stay with you at all times – in what will seem like no time, she will be able to run away to her room whenever she wants!

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