When do Babies Walk?

Babies typically take their first assisted steps between 9 and 12 months old and walk largely unassisted by 16 months old. There are outliers, though—some children start a few weeks shy of 6 months and some don't get there until 17 months or later. If you find your baby taking a little longer than expected, don't panic; the goal here is progress and persistence, not pace.

Stages of Development

Babies "hit the ground running," as it were, at birth with the primitive step reflex, sometimes referred to as the dancing or walking reflex. If you hold your little guy upright by the hands, his legs naturally execute a walking-like movement. The step reflex disappears at around 6 weeks. You'll also find your baby stretching his arms and legs, lifting and turning his head, smiling, making eye contact and forming his first sounds on his way to 3 to 4 months of age.

Starting at 3 to 4 months, you'll find your baby working out—no, really! Those mini-pushups you see her doing during tummy time, the ones where she raises her head and chest off the floor and uses her arms for support, trains her core and upper-body muscles, prepping her for stability on the "runway." You can also expect her to visually track objects with accuracy, babble and hold her toys (as well as your pants legs, your hair and, if you're particularly unfortunate, earrings she just can't resist yanking).

At 5 months you'll see your baby building leg strength by bouncing up and down when you hold him in a standing position. As early as 6 months, you might find the little one sitting up on his own, which further develops the core, neck and head strength needed for coordination and balance. Between 8 and 10 months, you'll usually see your baby crawl, but then again he might cut out the middle man and go straight to cruising, but a few months down the line.

At 10 months, you'll likely see your baby standing by supporting herself using couches, chairs and other stationary objects, and then promptly falling on her rear, which is normal. Other 10- to 12-month milestones include using gestures to communicate and performing deep-knee bends (supported) that lead to cruising, or using a stationary object for balance while taking sliding steps.

At 12 months you can consider your little guy a toddler, and with that distinction comes the possibility of him toddling hand-in-hand with you. By 14 months he might start walking unassisted, but he might stretch it out to 17 months. After all, would you argue with someone if they offered to carry you everywhere you wanted to go for three months?

At 15 to 16 months, with a little help, many toddlers can make it up the stairs in that hitched yet persistent way toddlers do. By 18 months, expect them to walk without balancing their arms. You can now look forward to running (19 to 24 months), often with non-blunt objects in hand and climbing the jungle gym while you wait anxiously with cat-like reflexes ready to catch them in the event of a misstep (25 to 30 months). Then, you can look forward to them turning your home into a playground unto itself (from 30 months until they move out). Congratulations, you guys made it!

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Babies develop at different rates, so don't fret if your little one hasn't taken his first steps at 17 months. It's not a sprint, but a marathon, and sometimes a rather slow one. Also, think quality here; it's better for a child to crawl strong and steady at 17 months than to walk stiffly or hobbly at 17 months. If you feel your child might have a developmental issue, by all means, take him to your pediatrician—in all likelihood, you walk out with a little less in your bank account but a lot more peace of mind, which you can't put a price on.

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