Precursors to Walking

Your baby may soon begin to experiment with standing up and moving her feet forward. Here's how you can help.

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At about 8 months, babies begin to get the idea of using their feet to go forward. Until now your baby probably liked to stand and dance on your lap with your support, but now he'll place one foot in front of the other. If held securely, he may even take a few wobbly steps on the floor. But most babies won't be able to support their entire weight, standing on flat feet, until 10 or 11 months. Once they can, they soon learn to pull themselves up, hand over hand, to a standing position, using a nearby support. The age for first steps varies wildly-anywhere from 9 to 18 months is normal.

You don't need to encourage your baby to stand. She'll use any stationary object-furniture, the bars of a crib or playpen, even your leg-to pull herself up. But remove, bolt down, or make inaccessible any lightweight or unstable pieces of furniture, such as bookcases, lamps, and tables, so she doesn't bring them down on her head when trying to pull herself up.

Keep an eye on your baby to protect him from falls - his little hands will be so busy holding on that he won't be able to use them to break his fall, and too many painful topples will discourage him. Don't be concerned if he takes a few tumbles, however-they're inevitable at this age. And don't try to "walk" him; your baby will much prefer the stability of a large, stationary object.

What stands up must sit down - but it takes most babies time to learn how. After pulling up to a standing position, your baby may cry for your help in reversing the process. Yet as soon as you rescue her-gently helping her down into a sitting position-she'll pull herself up to standing again. Be patient while helping her practice sitting, and within a few weeks she'll be able to do it without you.

Tools For Learning

Push Toys
Once your baby can pull herself up to a standing position and take steps while holding on to your hands, she's likely to enjoy a small, wheeled cart that will help her practice these new skills. (Parents with aching backs will probably also appreciate the toy!) These devices have a bar at baby's chest level to support her as she pulls up and then toddles behind, and they are designed not to tip over or to speed away. Once your little one has become a pro at toddling, she will enjoy putting the cart to other uses as well, such as loading, carrying, and unloading objects.

    All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.