Before you read this article, we have a PSA. Every baby is totally unique. Your little one is completely different from the other babies at playgroup, in your family, and from your antenatal class, so really try not to compare. Your baby might not be walking yet, while another baby born just hours earlier might be charging around the nursery. That’s normal.
OK, now we’ve got that out of the way, we can take a look at the rough expectations for babies in the early stages. This is your baby’s walking timeline and what you can expect when.
The learning stages
Just like with any life skill, lots of learning comes before mastering it. So before your little one will be up and walking, they will probably have moved through these stages first.
Around 4-6 months: Rolling
Learning to walk begins with rolling over. It shows that your baby is building muscle strength and also shows that they’re thinking about moving themselves intentionally.
Between 6-10 months: Crawling
You’ll probably be waiting for this moment and then once it happens you’ll wish you never encouraged it. Crawling is chaos. When we think of crawling we usually think of hands and knees crawling, but bum shuffling is also common. If you do want to encourage crawling (do so at your own peril), give your baby lots of tummy time to build their strength.
Between 10-18 months: Walking
It’s worth noting that some babies will never crawl, and just start walking straight away. So if this happens, don’t worry. But the most common timeline will be crawling for about 6 months and then between one year and 18 months, your little one will start tottering about.
What should I expect when my baby starts showing signs of walking?
Imagine learning a brand new skill. Now imagine not being able to ask for help. This is what babies are going through while they’re learning to walk, so it can be a bit of a slow process. Usually, they’ll slowly build up strength by doing the following…
Move that cup of coffee off the coffee table because your baby will start pulling themselves up onto anything they can get their hands on. Chairs, shelves, the sides of a cot, radiators. You name it, they’ll pull on it. They’re building leg muscles and getting stronger.
Gradually they’ll start letting go of the furniture and practice balancing. You can expect a lot of falling on bums in this phase of development.
Give them a hand
Give your little one a hand by holding them gently while they stand. It might just be a hand on the back so they can practice balancing.
Going it alone
It could take a few days or a few months, but eventually, your little one will get more confident and start walking on their own.
How can I help my baby learn to walk?
No need for baby boot camp, they’ll learn to walk when they’re ready, and as we said at the beginning, this is different for every child. But if you want to give them a bit of a head start, there are a few things you can try. Try and let them walk barefoot for as long as possible because baby shoes can slow down their progress. Also, hold on to their hands when they start looking like they want to walk as a form of encouragement. You might be tempted to get them a walker, but this can actually stop them from building their leg muscles, so try and let them get on with it the old-fashioned way. Which basically means falling over. Alot.
Should I be concerned that my baby hasn’t started walking?
According to the NHS, if your baby isn’t walking independently by 18 months you should speak to your Health Visitor or GP for advice. Before that, you can rest assured that babies develop at their own pace and will walk when they’re ready.
Watching your little one learn to walk is so exciting, so treasure it. It really is like watching Bambi. Allow them to get going at their own pace and try not to worry about what the other babies are up to.