One Foot in Front of the Other
When will she walk unsupported? There's a wide range of "normal" when it comes to putting one foot in front of the other. Depending on temperament, body build, gender, and family environment, babies vary from taking just a few days to several weeks as they transform into true bipeds. For instance, more cautious children may rely on this supported cruising for weeks or even months; occasionally a sudden fall or unexpected change in daily routine may even cause them to revert to crawling again as they reconsider their moves. (Don't worry: The sequence from standing to cruising to walking will take less time on her second go-round.) Other, braver souls will venture forth with one foot in front of the other and keep going. Interestingly, "there is no correlation between early crawlers and walking earlier," says Davies. But larger, heavier babies may have a harder time getting their balance than smaller, more agile tykes; and boys often walk earlier than girls, say experts. Family environment also plays a role: The youngest child in a family will often walk later than first children or only children, Davies notes, probably because other people are around to pick him up at the first peep of distress.
"Overall, we'd want to refer a baby for evaluation if he isn't walking by 16 months, to assess the quality of his motor skills," says Davies.
No matter when your baby takes those first steps toward independence, it will probably be because she's forgotten that she's doing something risky. "She'll step away from whatever she's holding on to because she's so motivated by a toy she wants that she'll forget she might fall," says Davies. Then she'll likely be so astonished by her own victory that she'll want to try it again.