When your baby’s a newborn, it seems to take forever before they can control any of their movements. You may feel like they’ll never be able to even reach out and touch your face.
But before you know it, they’ll be running around and climbing the furniture. Most gross motor development has a wide range for what’s normal. That means your baby could be walking by 9 months, or still getting around in other ways at 14 months.
Here’s what you can expect from your baby’s mobility as they grow.
Your baby’s gross motor timeline for walking
Before walking, there’s crawling. Before crawling, there’s scooting. Before that, there’s creeping, and even rolling.
Every movement skill your baby develops is a step toward the day when they’ll get around on their own. In the meantime, they have a lot of abilities to master, from core muscle strength, to supporting their weight, to controlling their limb movements.
At birth, your newborn was unable to hold up their head or support their body in any way. But as they outgrow the newborn stage, they’ll start to support their body more. Around 3 or 4 months, your baby will develop head control and the ability to push up when they’re lying on their stomach.
Pushing up is an important step toward developing the core and back strength they’ll eventually need to stand upright.
Expected age: 3-4 months
Your baby will probably roll first from front to back, and they’ll figure out rolling from back to front a few weeks or a month later. They may discover this is a great way to get to that toy they can’t quite reach and start using rolling as a way to get mobile early.
Expected age: 3-6 months
A stronger core means your baby will be able to sit on their own. Sometime between 4 and 9 months, they’ll start sitting upright without support.
Expected age: 4-9 months
Some babies opt to go mobile first, while others try to get upright before they start scooting or creeping. Your baby’s first movements across the floor might be a bit awkward or strange. They could be anything from pushing with their feet to pulling their body around with their hands.
Expected age: 6-11 months
Once your baby gets a taste of sitting upright, they may be eager to get on their feet. They’ll be able to pull themselves to stand between 8 and 11 months.
Expected age: 8-11 months
Your baby may start crawling anywhere between 6 months and after their 1st birthday. True crawling on their hands and knees can get your baby mobile at surprising speed, but there are a lot of other ways your baby might choose to get around. Some babies never crawl, instead going straight from rolling or creeping to walking.
Expected age: 6-13 months
Walking with help
Once your baby discovers they can walk while holding your hand, they may never let go of you. You (and every adult who comes near them) will probably get roped into their favorite activity.
Your baby will also leverage every piece of furniture into action by “cruising,” or walking while supporting it with their hands. Make sure all your furniture is stable and safe for baby to lean on, because everything is fair game in their quest to get around the room.
Expected age: 6-13 months
Standing without help
As your baby moves closer to true walking, the window when they might begin a new skill gets wider. This is because some babies start practicing gross motor skills early, while others wait and move through them quickly to true mobility.
Balance is a key factor in standing solo, which your baby could be doing at only 6 months, but it’s also normal if they wait until after their 1st birthday.
Expected age: 6-14 months
Your baby’s first steps could come as early as 8 months, or as late as halfway through their second year of life. That’s a long time to keep your camera ready! But you’ll have plenty of warning when it’s coming, because your baby will have been cruising and trying to balance for a while.
Don’t worry if your baby is more interested in sitting and playing than standing and walking. It’s not considered delayed for walking unless your baby waits to take those first steps alone until they’re getting closer to their 2nd birthday.
Expected age: 8-18 months
How to help your baby learn to walk
Your baby has an innate drive to become mobile. So at every stage, sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit back and let them explore their abilities in their own time. But you can encourage and motivate them to become more mobile at each stage.
Try placing a favorite toy just out of reach when they’re getting close to creeping, and they may work harder to move closer to it. When your baby is cruising, call them to come to you when you’re sitting just out of reach, and they may let go of the furniture so they can take a step and grab your hand.
More importantly, make sure your baby’s space is safe for their increasing mobility. Babyproof by covering sharp corners, securing furniture, and moving breakables out of the way, so your baby can explore safely.
Finally, don’t stress if your baby doesn’t progress smoothly through the stages of mobility. Setbacks, like falls, are normal as your baby learns to walk. They may even take their first steps and then go back to crawling for a little while as they gain confidence for more steps.
The wide range of when your baby will hit each milestone means that in most cases, you don’t need to be concerned about where your baby’s skills are right now. Talk to your doctor if your baby isn’t sitting by 9 months, mobile by 12 months, or walking by 18 months.
Also, if your child develops a skill and then seems to lose it entirely, going “backward” in their development, or if their movement is lopsided so they are better at moving on one side than the other, talk with your doctor about possible further evaluation.
Why is there such a wide window/age range for what’s considered “normal” for when baby will start to walk? How can parents tell if their baby is on schedule?
The wide range of usual ages to begin walking has many factors, but it all boils down to the fact that every child does things at their own pace. Some babies focus more on fine motor and social skills before gross motor skills such as walking. Being an “early” or “late” walker does not foretell anything about later abilities, as long as milestones are reached within the broad ranges of “normal.” Your baby’s development can be discussed at each well baby visit with your pediatrician, and you can find out how they are progressing.Karen Gill, MDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.