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The first year of a child’s life is packed with firsts. The most anticipated milestone — together with talking — is definitely taking those first little steps.

Be patient and supportive

Becoming a parent means that there is nothing in the world you'll anticipate more than your baby's developmental milestones. Even so, you shouldn't rush anything as the first years of their lives tend to pass in a blink of an eye. During the first few years of their lives, children best respond to a supportive and loving environment.

It's hard not to interfere and try to teach your baby to walk, right? Especially when you have a late bloomer and "concerned" family and friends. "Why isn't she walking yet?" "My son learned to walk when he was only nine months old." "Why don't you get her a baby walker?" Comments like these may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, especially for first-time parents.

All children will begin to pull themselves up, crawl, walk or talk as soon as they're developmentally ready. For some children, this will come months sooner than for others, and this has no connection with or effect on their intelligence. [1]

Scientists are still uncertain about the age at which we should expect our children to walk on their own, but according to the WHO, the majority of children start waking independently anywhere between eight to 17 months of age. [23]

You might be wondering why human babies learn to walk around the age of 12 months, while some animal cubs are on their legs within a day. The fact is that all living things actually hit the milestone at the same stage of brain development. [4]

How do children learn to walk?

Let an infant explore his surroundings and actively interact with you, and especially with other children. According to research, this is how most spontaneous walking occurs. [5]

With each day that passes, an infant will take more steps and fall less. Once they start cruising around the house, they'll see how interesting things can be and become even more motivated to learn to walk. As soon as child realizes that there's something that will take him farther and faster than crawling or cruising, he'll start walking by himself.

Precursors to walking

Your child will have to master several other things before he gets even close to walking on his own. Walking will come naturally after few months of sitting up, crawling, pulling up, and cruising around the furniture. The timing of these milestones will vary among children.

They usually learn to use their trunk muscles to stay upright at about six months old. Most children will try pulling themselves up to a standing position by 10 months. The age at which they start cruising will also vary; for some children it's 10 months of age, and for others it can happen months later.

According to researchers, cruising — regardless of how similar it might be to walking — doesn't teach children that they'll need a floor to support them, the main fact about walking. [6] Here you can read more about cruising and whether your child is afraid to let go.

Studies have shown that children who learned to crawl early walked before non-crawlers [7]. Some children never learn to crawl and use some alternative ways of moving around such as dragging on their bottoms or groveling onto their stomachs. As long as the baby moves around with ease and looks coordinated, there is no need for concern.

Before walking, your baby will need to prepare her body and strengthen her muscles enough to keep her up. This is not a quick process. [8]

Let them learn how to fall

Before a child learns how to walk, she should learn how to properly fall, according to researchers from New York University headed by Dr Karen Adolph. And long after they make their first individual steps, infants will still fall — a lot. Did you know that the average toddler will take more than two thousand steps per hour, pass around 700 meters and fall 17 times? [5]

As soon as they're active and on their feet, there's little peace left for you as a parent, so don't try to speed up the process. You don't have to teach your child how to walk by holding his hand or by putting him in a baby walker, as walking will come naturally.  He'll have plenty of time to walk and fall down.

Our children need to feel that they are loved, appreciated, and enjoyed for things that they are able to execute at the moment. They rarely need our help for the basics — things like sitting or walking.

When we meddle in nature's affairs, we only confuse the natural process, and can even harm a child. When babies are ready to do something, they won't hesitate to do it. Praise their little accomplishments and make them feel proud, as this makes children feel strong and worthy, boosting their self-esteem in the long run.

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