A Toddling Toddler

Those first steps that your toddler takes are among the most exciting moments, not only for you but for your toddler as well. Learning how to walk means that your toddler is gaining more independence. She can now go where she wants without your help.

Prelude to a Step
Most toddlers take their first steps between 11 and 14 months. However, it is not at all uncommon for some to start walking as early as eight months or as late as 17 months. Your toddler’s past behavior is a pretty good indication of when you can expect her to start walking. If she was rolling over and crawling at an early age, there’s a pretty good chance she’ll be an early walker too. Before those first cautious steps are taken, though, you will probably notice your toddler getting ready for the momentous occasion.

Around eight months, your toddler will start to raise himself up to a standing position with the aid of low-lying furniture. As he gets better at standing, he will begin experimenting with his mobility all the while clutching on to that furniture. You know he is on his way to walking once he can stand on his own and easily walks with the aid of the furniture.

You can encourage your toddler to take those first steps by holding out your hands while kneeling or standing in front of her. You could also hold her hands while she walks towards you. However, avoid walking with her; you want to encourage her to do it on her own. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a toddler who can walk perfectly well on her own but insists that you always hold her hand.

Look at that Toddler Go!
Once the art of walking has been mastered, it will be time to add new skills to this fantastic ability. Walking backwards, walking while holding an object, and – a toddler favorite – running are just of few of the new talents your toddler will learn to go with his walking. By the time he is two, his stride will be more confident and by the time he is three he will hardly need to concentrate on how to walk anymore.

But before your toddler reaches this level of confidence in her walking, she will likely have taken many spills. Her lack of co-ordination and balance, along with her preoccupation with what she is doing rather than where she is going, are to blame for the numerous bruises.

Although you may want to rush out a buy a pair of shoes as soon as your toddler starts to toddle around, it may be a good idea to wait. While shoes are definitely necessary if he is going to be outside or walking regularly on rough or cold surfaces, whenever possible, it is best to let your toddler go barefoot. Being barefoot can actually help improve his balance and co-ordination. If you have cold floors at home but don’t want your toddler to always wear shoes, non-slip slippers or socks are a good compromise.

While some toddlers develop at a slower rate than others, if your toddler still hasn’t started walking by 18 months, it may be a good idea to have her assessed by her pediatrician. Although there could very well be nothing wrong other than a little child development stage fright, it is best to investigate the issue just in case.

Many toddlers enjoy walking on their tiptoes when they are first learning to walk or when they just feel like it. However, if you notice you toddler always walking on his toes it could indicate a physical problem or a motor disorder that requires professional attention.

Another common problem with toddlers when they begin walking is in-toeing or walking pigeon toed. Either form of walking is perfectly common and may be accompanied by bowlegs or knock-knees. The majority of the time, these problems disappear after a few months. But, if you don’t notice any improvements after six months, it interferes with your toddler’s ability to walk or if her toes don’t naturally point straight when she is at rest, make an appointment with her pediatrician to see if there is anything you can do.

Find out how to help your toddler learn to walk by talking to other moms in our toddler forum.