The first year of an infant’s life is brimming with milestones. From their first smiles and giggles to the moment they begin to sit up unassisted, every achievement is celebrated with joy and pride. However, among all these milestones, there’s one that stands out for many parents: the day their child takes their first step. When we talk about infants walking age, there’s a mixture of excitement and apprehension. “At what age do infants start walking?” is a question on the minds of many first-time parents.
Understanding The Average Age for Infant to Walk
It’s important to understand that there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to the age at which infants begin to walk. On average, the majority of babies take their first steps between 9 and 12 months. However, it’s quite common for some babies to start walking a little earlier, around the 8-month mark, while others might take their sweet time and not start until 16 or 17 months.
While it can be tempting to compare your child’s progress with others, it’s crucial to remember that every baby is unique. Factors like individual temperament, physical development, motivation, and opportunities for practice can all influence when an infant starts to walk.
Is There a Set Time When Infants Should Start Walking?
When discussing when an infant should start walking, there’s no fixed deadline. However, by 18 months, most children are typically walking independently. If your baby hasn’t started walking by this age, it might be a good idea to consult a paediatrician or a child development specialist. They can provide insights into whether there’s a potential issue or if your little one is just taking their time.
It’s also worth noting that the age at which parents or siblings started walking can sometimes (though not always) be an indicator. If you or your partner started walking later than the average, your child might follow suit.
Factors Influencing When Infants Walk
Several factors can influence the age at which infants start walking:
Physical Development: Before walking, most babies will show signs of readiness. These include pulling themselves up to a standing position, cruising along furniture, and perhaps even taking a few steps while holding onto someone’s hand.
Temperament: Some babies are naturally more cautious and may take longer to start walking because they’re content crawling or cruising. Others have an adventurous streak and are keen to explore the world on two feet as soon as they can.
Opportunity: Babies need plenty of opportunities to practise standing and walking. Those who are given ample time to play and explore in a safe environment might start walking earlier than those who aren’t.
Health & Well-being: Infants with recurrent health issues or those born prematurely might take a bit longer to start walking than their peers.
When Should You Be Concerned?
While it’s essential to give babies the time and space they need to develop at their own pace, there are some signs that might warrant a chat with a healthcare professional:
- If by 12 months, your child hasn’t shown any interest in standing, even with support.
- If they haven’t started walking by 18 months.
- If they are only using one side of their body to move.
What to do if infants don’t start walking early
Here’s a guide on what to do if your infant doesn’t walk by the generally expected age:
1. Don’t Panic
First and foremost, avoid jumping to conclusions. Children develop at their own pace, and while there are average timelines for milestones like walking, there’s a wide range of what’s considered normal.
2. Observe Other Developmental Milestones
While walking is a significant milestone, it’s crucial to look at the broader picture. Is your child achieving other developmental milestones? Are they showing signs of understanding, speaking a few words, or demonstrating other motor skills like holding objects or pulling themselves up?
3. Encourage Physical Activity
Ensure that your child has ample opportunities to practice their gross motor skills:
- Provide a safe space for them to crawl, stand, or cruise.
- Offer toys that promote standing or walking, like push or pull toys.
- Play with them, encouraging them to come to you or stand with the support of furniture.
4. Avoid Comparisons
It’s easy to get anxious if you’re comparing your child to others. Remember that every child is unique. Just because a friend’s baby walked earlier doesn’t mean your child is behind.
5. Consult a Paediatrician
If you have concerns, schedule an appointment with a paediatrician:
- Discuss any potential physical or developmental issues.
- They can check for any underlying conditions that might be affecting your child’s ability to walk.
- The doctor can advise you on exercises or therapies, if needed.
6. Consider Early Intervention Services
In some cases, early intervention might be recommended. These are services designed for children under three years old who have developmental delays or specific health conditions. Services might include physical therapy, speech therapy, or other types of developmental support.
7. Stay Patient and Positive
While it’s natural to worry, try to remain patient and positive. Celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small. Your encouragement and praise can make a significant difference in their confidence and motivation to explore the world on their feet.
8. Seek Support
Parenting can be challenging, especially if you’re feeling anxious about your child’s development. Talk to friends, family, or consider joining a parent support group. Sharing your feelings and hearing others’ experiences can provide comfort and perspective.
When discussing when infants should walk, the key takeaway is that there’s a broad spectrum of normal. Most infants start walking between 9 to 12 months, but there’s plenty of room for variation. Instead of fretting over exact timelines, enjoy each developmental phase your baby goes through. Their first steps, whenever they happen, will be worth the wait.
Every baby is unique. EuroSchool believes that as long as babies are showing signs of progression in their motor skills and are happy and healthy, there’s typically no need for concern. Always trust your instincts as a parent and seek professional advice if you’re ever in doubt about your child’s development.