Learning to Walk | Emma's Diary India

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Learning to walk


How your baby will learn to walk

For many parents, seeing their child take their very first independent steps is a magical time.

Here, we look at how your little one will begin walking and give you top tips on choosing their first pair of shoes.

Learning to walk

Walking is a skill your baby will learn in his own time - some children walk at nine months while others don't find their feet until they are well over a year old.

Your baby is born with a primary walking reflex, meaning when he is held with his feet in contact with a hard surface he instinctively takes 'steps', one foot at a time.

But this reflex usually disappears within the first couple of months so the co-ordination he needs to be able to walk has to be learnt all over again when he is older.

When will he start?

Although there are a number of factors such as inheritance, temperament and a baby's weight, which may help to determine the age when a baby begins to walk on his own, there is no 'right' time to start walking.

In general most babies begin to walk at between 12 and 15 months, although a number will start as early as nine months, while others show no interest until they are around 18 months.

How will he begin?

Your baby has to learn to control his body before he can walk. His mobility will take place in a set order, starting with control of his head and working down to his feet.

He has to be able to hold his head up before he can sit upright or crawl, and he won't be able to walk until he can move his body along by crawling or doing a bottom shuffle.

Each new movement then has to be practised until it becomes refined and controlled.

By around seven months your baby will probably be able to sit upright, using his hands for support. Once he has achieved this he will soon learn to sit unaided and then it is only a matter of time before he starts to move himself across the floor either by crawling, wriggling or shuffling.

Within a couple of months he will be ready to start pulling himself up into a standing position and you will find he enjoys standing bouncing with his legs while you take his weight.

Standing and cruising

As he grows in confidence he will start to use you, or the furniture, as support while he pulls himself up onto his feet.

At this stage he won't have mastered sitting down so when he wants to sit he will simply let go and land on the floor with a thump. He probably won't be able to control sitting down until he is 11 or 12 months old.

When your baby's got used to standing he will start 'cruising' around the furniture, holding on with both hands and taking little sideways steps.

Once he can move around like this with some confidence he will gradually let go with one hand. Then it is only a matter of time before he lets go all together and takes his first step.

First steps

When your baby begins to walk he will move with his feet placed wide apart to help him balance and he will seem very wobbly.

He may even appear bow-legged or knocked-kneed or he may walk with his feet turned in or out This ungainliness won't last long and as he becomes more mobile his legs will straighten and he will become steadier on his feet.

Learning to walk is largely a matter of trial and error so there is little you can do to help your child apart from encouraging him and making sure the area where he is learning to walk is safe.

Even when you have removed all the obvious hazards from your child's path you will need to stay close at hand to make sure he doesn't hurt himself because he is bound to experience some falls. Try not to over-react when your child stumbles as this may make him less confident.

By encouraging him to stand up and try again you will be helping him to develop a sense of adventure. Toys that can be pushed along while he is standing will help your child's balance and may give him the confidence he needs to make those first steps alone.

First shoes

Your child does not need proper shoes until he can walk unaided and even then he should only wear them to protect his feet when he is outside. Here are some things to consider when buying your toddler's shoes:

  • Always have your child's feet measured by a qualified fitter.
  • Choose shoes with a lace, buckle or Velcro fastening which hold the heel in place and stop the foot slipping forward and damaging the toes.
  • Buy shoes made from natural materials, such as leather, so that his feet can breathe.
  • Always get your toddler to walk in the shoes in the shoe shop to make sure the fit is correct before you buy.
  • Have his shoes checked every six to eight weeks to make sure that they still fit.
  • Never buy second-hand shoes, they will have been moulded to fit another child
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