Is there anything you can do to encourage your baby to take his first step - or is it all genetically predetermined?
Baby's first step is a developmental milestone that most parents never forget. But waiting for this moment can be an anxious time for parents who may have friends and relatives whose children walked at an earlier age. When it comes to walking, babies are on their own time table and when they take their first step is no reflection of their intelligence, size, or the parenting skills of their mom or dad. Former family clinic supervisor at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Ruth McCamus, assures us that when it comes to walking, every baby is unique. "On average a child will begin walking at age of 12 or 14 months but considerable differences are likely. Some children begin walking much earlier and some as late as 21 months."
While we can't speed up a baby's first step, there are things that may hold a child back explains McCamus. "Sometimes if a baby is a very proficient crawler or roller he may be happy with this form of mobility for some time." McCamus adds that there's little a parent can do to get their children walking except to "provide an encouraging environment with lots of praise for progress. But baby herself will delight in her accomplishments."
Pediatrician Dr. Marvin Ghans agrees that outside of a little encouragement there's nothing a parent can do to change their child's walking timetable. "Children will walk when they are ready. I think it's good to take them by the hand and walk with them and help support them. But they don't really need lessons", says Dr. Ghans. He also stresses that walkers should not be used. "Walkers have been found to be cause of many accidents including serious head injuries from children falling down steps in them."
Most children are walking by the time they reach eighteen months. If your child hasn't reached this milestone by then, it is advisable to consult your baby's doctor.