You’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for your baby to walk. At first you just figured they’d hit this important milestone when most babies usually reach it—at about 12 months old. But as the months tick by, you’re probably wondering why your 15, 16, or even 18-month-old baby isn’t walking. This can feel even more nerve wracking if you have an older child or neighbor baby who walked at 9- or 10-months old. How can you know if your baby has a developmental delay? There are some pretty clear signs. Let’s talk about those signs.
Understanding developmental delays
When your baby is over a year old, and not walking, you’re probably worried about a developmental delay. Your doctor can evaluate your baby if you’re worried, but here are some indicators that your baby might have something else going on.
- Is your baby meeting other milestones? Do they crawl? Talk? Eat solid foods? When your baby is meeting all the normal milestones, there usually isn’t much concern about slow walking.
- Is your baby stiff or floppy? If your baby is stiff, lopsided, or even floppy during movements, talk to your child’s doctor.
- Was your baby premature? Prematurity can throw off the timeline for most major milestones. You can use your baby’s original due date to help you guide timelines for developmental milestones.
Foundations for walking
Your baby might not be walking yet, but between 9-18 months they should start building good foundations for walking. If your baby is doing the following, they’re getting ready to walk:
- Using both sides of their body equally
- Crawling on hands and knees, or scooting on their bum
- Supporting their own weight while standing
- Getting in and out of a sitting position on their own
- Walking along furniture
Encouraging your baby to walk
Although you can’t control when your baby starts walking, there may be a few things you can do to push them in that direction.
- Carry them less often.
- Give them plenty of time to play independently on the floor. This helps to strengthen their muscles and build confidence.
- Avoid using walkers that can hinder walking development.
- Play games together that will encourage walking. Place a toy or treat at the end of a couch or coffee table. This will encourage your baby to walk along the side to reach it. If they move down to crawl, put them back in walking position. Cheer any progress.
- Skip slippery socks and shoes.
Although the average age for babies to begin walking is around 12-months, your baby can begin walking anytime from 9- to 18-months. Unless you see signs of developmental delays, your baby is probably just taking their time to start walking. You can encourage your baby to begin walking by giving them plenty of time to play on the floor. If you’re worried about your baby’s lack of toddling, you can always talk to your child’s pediatrician at their next appointment.