Babies Start Walking at Different Paces
The average age for babies to start walking is 12 months, says Dr. Irwin Kash, a pediatrician at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla. But it's not uncommon for babies to start walking as early as 9 months or as late as 15 months, he adds.
Whether a baby walks early or late typically doesn't signal anything about his or her development, says Amanda Wodzisz, a nurse and supervisor at the Primary Care Clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
"All kids are different," she says. "A lot of times parents are in a hurry. It's not a big concern."
And Kash tells parents not to worry if their babies initially walk with their feet pointed in or out.
"It's usually harmless," he says. "It usually fixes itself."
Doctors are more likely to worry if a baby does not start sitting up between 6 and 9 months, Wodzisz says.
If walking is an "isolated delay," rather than one of several delays, it's less of a concern, Kash says.
It's a good sign if a child is continuing to learn new skills such as rolling, crawling and pulling herself up, the experts say. Usually, children just need additional time to start taking steps.
There aren't any exercises or games that will help a child start walking sooner, Kash says.
However, when children start pulling themselves up, parents can hold them up or hold their hands and help them walk, Wodzisz says.
"Support them when they're standing on their feet," she says. "It helps leg muscles develop."
If a child is not walking at 17 months, Kash says, he would start looking for reasons why. Reasons vary from poor muscle tone to spinal cord issues, which, he says, are very rare.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.