Early Walkers, Late Walkers: Every Baby Finds His Own Stride
By Cheryl Flanders
You’ve been waiting for your baby’s first steps. You’ve coaxed and encouraged and cheered him on from the sidelines. But at 11 months, his preferred travel option is still…the belly scoot. Meanwhile your friend’s baby walked at 9 months, and she talks about it endlessly. “Can you believe she’s already walking!? She’s amazing!”
It can be hard to resist the urge to compare babies who reach major milestones at very different ages… and to worry when yours is a late bloomer (or walker, in this case). It doesn’t help that the Internet is full of articles claiming there’s a correlation between reaching physical milestones early and increased intelligence.
Let us put your mind at ease: Research shows that early walkers are not more advanced or intelligent. In fact, by the time young children start school, those who started walking later are just as well-coordinated and intelligent as those who pushed off early.
The bottom line is that the average infant starts toddling at around 12 months, but anywhere from nine to 20 months is possible. Is your little princess still scooting at 11 months? Cool! That just means you have a little extra time to get more video footage of the cute scoot, the proud stand, the cruise around the furniture, and those cherished first steps! If your baby is still grounded after 20 months, consider talking to your pediatrician about underlying issues. Overall, though, this is the time to relax, let your baby progress at her own pace, and enjoy watching her discover the world around her.
Here’s our tips for making the most out of your baby’s early walking months:
- Create a safe, exciting space for him to explore. Whether he prefers to scoot, crawl, or crab walk his way around the room, he needs a safe and fun place to discover and experience the world around him. Mirrors on the wall at your child’s eye level are intriguing and inviting, and he may find pushing a laundry basket along the floor mesmerizing. Placing his favorite toy on a chair may also motivate his inner walker.
- Consider your baby’s temperament. Just like you may prefer good books over gym workouts, babies have temperaments that influence their physical activity. Babies with impulsive temperaments may race through physical milestones (and be a little more accident prone!) while mellow fellows may take their time with motor skills.
- Avoid walkers! Using walkers is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as they are responsible for many injuries each year and can delay your baby’s first steps.
As exciting as it will be to see your baby toddling around on her own, don’t get caught up in comparisons that will take the joy out of your day. Your 11-month-old scooter is just as brilliant as your friend’s nine-month-old walker. So, relax, keep your camera ready, and prepare for take-off!