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From bottom shuffle to wobbly totter, your little one is likely to take her first steps around now. Child development expert Eileen Hayes explains what to expect as your baby turns into a toddler – literally!

When will my baby start walking?

Some babies take their first few steps as early as nine months, while others are still happily shuffling around at 18 months. On average, most babies start between 13 and 15 months old.

Don’t panic!

It’s tempting for parents to boast about how early their little one walked or talked. But most late walkers catch up quickly, and early walking is no indication of how bright your baby is. Walking involves muscular development, not brainpower, and this happens more slowly in some.

Learning to walk

Walking happens in stages. It’s likely your baby will start by trying to pull herself up to standing while holding on to furniture. Once she’s mastered that she’ll begin to ‘cruise’ – move around upright, still holding on. She may be able to let go and stand without any support at this stage. Finally she’ll let go and take her first unsupported steps.

Barefoot is best

Most experts believe that barefoot is best when your baby’s learning to walk as it helps bones and muscles develop properly and gives her a better grip. This might not be practical outdoors, or if it’s really cold, but you should let your toddler toddle around barefoot as much as possible.

How to encourage walking

There’s no harm in helping your baby to practise the necessary skills for walking. You could:

  • hold her hands while pulling her up gently, encouraging her to ‘walk’ holding on
  • place her hands to grip the edge of a piece of low furniture, with your tot in an upright position
  • hold out a tempting toy: this encourages many babies to take their first few steps
  • choose push-along toys with sturdy, stable handles, as these help many babies get on the move
  • give your baby time out of the playpen, cot or pushchair so she has more chances to have a go at standing, and eventually walking!

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