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How to Teach Your Child to Walk

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

There are few milestones that parents anticipate as much as a child taking her first steps. But children develop at different rates. If a child starts to walk anytime from age 8 months to 18 months, it's considered normal development, according to MedlinePlus. Although you can't make a baby walk if she's not ready, you can certainly work with her to prepare her for those first steps.

Help your little guy build strong leg, back and neck muscles through play. To start walking, a child must be able to stand upright and feel comfortable enough to shift all his weight to one foot. In the early months, he'll build his back and neck muscles by playing on his tummy -- and then he'll likely progress to sitting and crawling. You can also work his leg muscles by holding him and letting him "jump" or placing him in a jumper or an activity center that encourages him to move while standing.

Hold your child's hands when she stands. As your baby gets ready for walking, she'll start to pull up and stand. Holding lightly to her hands helps her keep her balance. If she seems confident, you can let go, allowing her to stand on her own.

Encourage cruising by placing toys just out of reach. "Cruising" is when a baby starts to walk by holding onto the furniture. You can help him do this by placing a toy he wants at the other end of the couch and cheering him on as he moves toward it.

Flex his walking skills with your hands or a push toy. Though the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of infant walkers due to potential injuries, a push toy can help your child walk without fear. Choose one that's sturdy and won't move too quickly. Alternatively, you can let your child walk around while holding your hands.

Play "Come to Mama" to get baby to take her first steps. As she stands holding onto a table or close to a friend or relative, place yourself a few steps away and hold out your hands, encouraging her to "Come to Mama."


  • Some babies prefer crawling even after they've taken their first steps. Don't feel discouraged if your baby isn't too keen on walking.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

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