From creeping and crawling to strolling and shuffling (sometimes even backward), these essential motor milestones are what parents look forward to. So when do babies start walking?

Once your baby learns how to stand up on their own, it’s only a matter of time before they take a small step forward to see what else is out there in the big wide world. Walking is a surefire indication that your child is moving into the toddler stage. Here are some common times for toddlers to begin walking, clues that your baby is almost ready to walk and suggestions for supporting them along the way.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Diana Rangaves writes for 21Ninety’s as a health and wellness expert. She is a pharmacist, philanthropist, and ethics professor turned writer, holding a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of California. She also serves as the Executive Editor and Chief Content Officer for Healthcare Worldwide Central and has published several works in medical and pharmaceutical publications, academic books, as well as, scholarly articles.

When Do Babies Start Walking?

While some babies begin to walk before they are one, most of them start after their first birthday, typically around 14 months. Around month nine or 10 months, babies usually take their first few tentative steps after they progress from pulling up to cruising (or walking while holding onto the couch or coffee table). Although most toddlers are walking successfully by the time they are 12 to 15 months old, most don’t start taking unassisted steps until much later in life. If your child isn’t walking by the time they are 18 months old, you should see your doctor.

Some of it could be in their wiring: your child may follow in their parents’ early or late steps. Build and temperament also play an essential role. A high-energy baby will likely walk sooner than a mellow, content-to-sit kid. Some children are more careful, only taking a step when they are confident they will not fall; others will jump right in.

Your baby will ultimately learn to walk, but on their timetable, not yours. Sure, there are ways you can aid them, but rather than focusing on the end goal, enjoy the small steps along the way. This will make their victory lap that much sweeter.

How Do Babies Learn to Walk?

To walk, your infant must have mastered a number of skills, including balance, coordination, standing up and the ability to shift their body weight from one leg to another. Each new ability your baby acquires builds on the prior ones they have learned. As your baby grows older, the skills they learn become more complex.

While your kid was crawling, pulling up to stand, and cruising between pieces of furniture, they were developing muscle strength. They were also honing abilities such as balance and coordination, which are required for walking and, subsequently, running. Once your infant begins to walk, they will continue this process. They may try moving from the floor to standing and back down again. To play, they may alternate between sitting and standing, strolling and crouching.

All of these exercises help them strengthen their muscles and maintain their balance. They will keep trying and exploring to improve their walking abilities. They can walk in various directions, on different surfaces, and while carrying large toys.

Stages Of Learning To Walk

Of course, learning to walk is a process, and each infant has a different technique. Here are some of the stages your kid may go through on their road to walking (keep in mind that it is pretty standard to skip some of these stages):

Crawling: This occurs between seven and 10 months. Some babies learn to crawl by rocking on their hands and knees.

Creeping: Similar to crawling, a baby who creeps may pull itself forward with their arms, which are stronger than their leg muscles at this point, and drag the rest of their body behind.

Scooting: Instead of crawling or creeping, some babies scoot along on their bums, pushing off with their arms.

Cruising: This is frequently the final stage of learning before walking, in which your baby takes steps while standing upright and holding on to a piece of furniture.

How To Encourage Walking In Your Child

There are many strategies to encourage walking, but the best way is to give your baby as much time as possible to explore their body and try it out for themselves. Allow your child to spend lots of time outside of the stroller or carrier, away from the play yard or swing, so they can see where their busy mind leads them. Beyond that, here are some particular approaches to encourage those initial steps:

Leave an enticing trail: The same tactics that enable a baby to crawl or pull up also aid a beginner cruiser. Place tempting toys just out of reach when your baby pulls up to stand, and they may experiment with novel ways to get at their prize.

Turn on their cruise control: If your toddler is able to stand but appears afraid or unsure of what to do next, assist them by arranging stable furniture to keep them steady as they move.

Offer praise: Keep an eye out for signs that your baby is ready to move on and celebrate each accomplishment. Help when necessary, and grin when you detect a glint of self-determination in their eyes.

Provide comfort after a fall: Falls are unavoidable in the early stages of walking, so be there to help your child up and console them if they cry. Baby proofing is essential at this period to provide the safest environment for your baby to explore.

Create challenges: If your baby has mastered walking on flat terrain, test their skills by walking up and down a ramp or on a safe, uneven surface. This promotes excellent balance, coordination, and muscle power.

Extend your hand: Encourage your infant to walk to you by extending your hands toward them. You can also instruct them to follow you as you enter another room.

Concern About Your Baby Walking

Should you be concerned if your baby has not met certain physical milestones by their first birthday? Not exactly. The CDC suggests consulting with your child’s pediatrician if they are not walking at all by 18 months or not walking steadily by age two, so you still have plenty of time even if your child has not started showing symptoms by age one.

Walking may appear to be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, but for a baby, it is a momentous accomplishment that requires physical strength, confidence, and a safe location to practice. Although your infant is intelligent enough to reach this milestone on their own, having a helpful coach for a parent can’t hurt. Some of these indications may indicate that your baby is ready to walk, but each child has their unique “go time.”