Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year: Part 7 – Walking

Today is our final installment of our series on major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year and we’re examining walking.  This is your baby’s first “step” into the big leagues, usually a demarcation between infancy and toddlerhood.  They say babies “grow so fast” and you probably really believe that around the time your baby begins walking.

Walking independently typically occurs sometime between 13 to 15 months.  Of course some babies are toddling about at 9 months and others take until 16 or 17 months to take their first steps.  Walking is perhaps the biggest of the major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year and the one parents worry about most.  If you are concerned, speak to your pediatrician.  Chances are if your baby is progressing consistently towards walking, your doctor will not see an issue.  If there is a developmental delay, occupational or physical therapy may be in order.  At such a young age, babies usually take to therapies and progress quickly.

Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year:  Part 7 – Walking When you believe your baby is ready to walk, it’s time to take everything off the floor and put it in a nice spot where your baby has to walk to reach it.  (Finally your play spaces won’t constantly look like a disaster zone!)  You can still keep toys at various levels to encourage squatting for low items and getting on tip toes for higher items.

Play with your baby using items that float above her head such as balloons or bubbles.  Your baby may enjoy chasing them.  You can also toss a ball or other light items such as stuffed animals or rolled socks to get your baby interested in going after these items.

Allow your baby to experience different floor surfaces by keeping her barefoot.  Walking on carpet feels different than hardwoods, tile or grass.  The sensations, textures and malleability of different surfaces will help develop balance, weight shifting and good arches.  Your baby’s hands are also important when it comes to walking:  keep both of your baby’s hands occupied so she does not try to reach out to hold on to anything.

Crawling up stairs (with your keen supervision) and encouraging transitions from the floor to standing to walking are also important skills that will help your baby walk independently.  And don’t forget to invest in a good pair of shoes for your baby even before those first steps emerge.

Many parents are interested in support systems to help “teach” their children to walk.  These can be counterproductive for babies as it gives them a false sense of balance, promotes bad posture and foot positioning, and doesn’t allow for freedom of exploration.  Most occupational therapists recommend limiting time in exersaucers and jumpers to 15 minutes daily and not using walkers at all.

There you have it, the major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year.  We’ve gone from tummy to back to rolling over, then from sitting to crawling to standing to walking.  That’s a lot to learn in just one short precious year, for both your baby and you.  Embrace your baby’s accomplishments as well as how you fostered an environment for success.  We join you in celebrating these major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year.

Sources:  MamaOT, Dinosaur Physical Therapy and Pink Oatmeal