As babies get older, they slowly learn more about the world and their place in it. Over time, they master certain activities, such as speaking, recognizing other people, and picking things up with their hands.
Some babies, though, can struggle to walk. They can roll over and crawl fine. But they just don’t seem to be able to take the final step and become fully upright.
Should parents worry about this? Or is it natural?
Well, it depends on the cause of the problem.
How Soon Should A Baby Walk?
Most babies learn to walk in the first 10 to 12 months of life. However, medics don’t usually worry until month 14. If the child is still struggling to walk at this point, it can be a sign of developmental issues.
That’s not to say that there’s a problem at this stage. As with any population, there is a distribution of outcomes. Some babies walk very early – maybe 8 months – while others are as late as 16 months.
When Should You Worry?
However, if your baby gets to 14 months and isn’t showing signs of wanting to walk (or can’t physically do it), then they may require medical attention.
Most babies see all-around improvements in their motor skills over the first few months of life. They go from being unable to do anything to gaining near-full control over their nervous system.
If you see that your baby has good motor skills in other areas (they can play with blocks), but can’t yet walk, then there is usually no immediate reason for concern. Usually, walking will emerge naturally as they become more confident. One day, you’ll find them waddling towards you on both feet with no support from the hands.
However, if their motor skills are not developing, then it could be a sign of neurological problems. If that’s the case, then you may need to take them to see a specialist for a full diagnosis.
If your baby is able to manipulate items with their hands but is struggling to stand up, it may indicate a condition called hypotonia – official source here. Here, the muscles are weaker than usual and can’t support the weight of the baby. They may be able to walk a couple of steps, but then they collapse back down again.
All babies fall when first learning to walk. But they shouldn’t appear weak for weeks. Eventually, the muscles should strengthen.
Can You Help?
As a parent, there are certain things that you can do to help your baby walk. For instance, you can hold their hands when they are in a standing position, allowing them to get used to the sensation of walking on their feet.
Where possible, try to avoid carrying your baby (unless you absolutely have to). This way, you encourage them to move around under their own strength, instead of relying on you to do it for them.
When helping a baby learn to walk, create a safe environment for them. Put down a thick rug to absorb the impact if they momentarily collapse.