Help for your First-Time Walker

by Jodi Gilray, PT, DPT, c/NDT, Jodi Gilray Pediatric Therapy

Your baby will start pulling themselves up to stand around 9 to 12 months. She or he likely will stand for only a few seconds at first, but around 13 to 15 months, they’ll be standing without help like a pro.

Your first-time walker will take those first steps at around 12 to 15 months.

Help baby walk

Some first-time walkers are early. Others are a bit slow. As your child starts getting used to being on those feet, you can begin encouraging your little one to walk.

Place toys just a little out of reach so your child has extra motivation to move that way. Your baby is capable of reaching milestones without the aid of special toys or equipment. Be very cautious of baby walkers; they have been known to cause preventable injuries.

Keep trying

Another tip is to shorten the distance in which your little one needs to walk. Place a truly enticing toy just barely out of reach. You can adjust the challenge level to see what your baby can accomplish on their own.

Give them a boost by holding them by the rib cage so your baby uses core muscles when walking. Once your baby reaches a point where they can cruise around, you’ll want to make extra sure they are walking in spaces that are safe. They’ll now be able to reach surfaces and areas they haven’t been able before.

Put sharp or dangerous items away.

Shoes for first-time walkers?

The design of baby shoes is to protect the feet from rough surfaces. Shoes do not in any way help your child walk. Ideally, shoes should only be used outdoors for confident walkers. The exception is warmth. In this case, choose booties or socks so the foot is still free to move as it pleases.

Look out for …

If your little one is not walking by 14 months, be sure to bring up your concerns to your pediatrician. Sometimes physical therapy to help your baby walk is recommended. Other concerning movements to look out for include:

  • Walking on the toes
  • Flat feet
  • Preference for crawling
  • Frequent falling, poor balance
  • Stiffness in legs
  • Inability to raise neck/back

It’s important to keep an eye on your first-time walker, and if something doesn’t seem quite right, then say something.