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  • 3 Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Walk Plus How To Encourage Him

    Parents can't help but be excited to see their little one take his first steps.
    by Kitty Elicay .
3 Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Walk Plus How To Encourage Him
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  • There are many developmental milestones that parents look forward to once their baby is born, but perhaps the most exciting is when their little one starts walking for the first time. While babies hit their milestones at their own pace, parents can’t help but wonder when these firsts will happen — once baby starts learning how to crawl, should they expect that baby will soon take his first steps, too?

    When do babies start to walk?

    Keep in mind that babies don’t start walking overnight — during their first year, they need to progress through a series of other milestones like crawling (around 7 months), pulling themselves to stand up (around 9 to 12 months), and cruising. They are also busy developing coordination and muscle strength in every part of their body during their first year.

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    Cruising happens at around 9 to 12 months old. This is your baby’s way of testing the “walking waters” and one of the signs that he will start walking soon, according to The Bump. Your baby will start to stand up, sit down, and take their first steps while supported — either by mom or dad or anything else nearby. Then, they will start walking independently and will be walking well by the time they are 14 to 15 months old.

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    Don’t worry if your little one still can’t walk well by this time — according to BabyCenter, “some perfectly normal children don’t walk until they’re 16 or 17 months old.”

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    Is crawling a prerequisite to walking?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that “crawling is not a prerequisite to walking; pulling is the skill infants must develop before they take their first steps.”

    “Some children crawl for a few days and then get up and cruise, some crawl for months before they stand up, and some children never crawl,” says Carrie M. Brown, MD, a pediatrician at Arkansans Children’s Hospital in the United States, to The Bump.

    However, letting your child crawl also has its advantages. It helps strengthen babies’ hands, wrists, and elbows as these body parts support their weight as they crawl, according to Felice Sklamberg, a pediatric occupational therapist from New York University’s School of Medicine. Not using these muscles as effectively may affect the child’s motor skills later on in life.

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    How to encourage baby to walk

    Walking is dependent on your baby’s personality — even if they’ve developed the skills to walk, they might not have the courage to actually do it yet. As babies gain more confidence and are able to balance on their own, they’ll be more eager to take those first steps, so watch out for the signs. There are also ways to encourage your child to take his first steps.

    1. Make sure he gets enough tummy time.

    Practicing tummy time, which begins on the first day you bring your little one from the hospital, is essential for your child to begin to learn how to walk. “The experience of being on their tummy helps babies learn to push up, roll over, sit up, crawl, and pull to a stand,” Dr. Danette Glassy, a pediatrician and chairperson of the AAP’s committee on early education and childcare, told BabyCenter.

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    To do this, you place baby on their belly and let them move around a bit. You can schedule it right after a nap, a diaper change, or a bath — but make sure your baby is alert or awake and not tired or hungry. Your baby should always be supervised during tummy time.

    2. Help him figure out how to work his body.

    While your baby can easily figure out how to stand, he might need some help figuring out how to get back down again. BabyCenter suggests showing him how to bend his knees so he can sit down without toppling over, then letting him try it by himself.

    You can also encourage baby to walk by standing or kneeling in front of him and holding out your hands. Or assist him first by holding both of his hands while letting him walk toward you.

    3. Make his environment safe for walking.

    As your baby starts cruising, he’ll make use of anything he can get his hands on for support, like the couch, the edge of the bed, or even tables. Keep a watchful eye or ensure that you are close by when he does this.

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    Make sure the items he’ll be using for support are secured, stable, and will not topple over. There should be no sharp corners or loose cords (like electrical wiring or cords from window blinds) within reach. Using floor mats can also help ensure safer landings.

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    Do I need a walker?

    The AAP is strongly against walkers for babies. “Because they make it so easy for your child to get around, walkers can prevent a baby’s upper leg muscles from developing correctly,” explains BabyCenter.

    Try a push toy instead. “Once the child is upright and cruising along furniture, a push toy can help her learn to walk forward with support,” says Dr. Brown.

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