Some parents might feel like their baby started running around and climbing the furniture overnight. But most gross motor development has a wide range for what’s typical.
That means your baby could be walking by 9 months or still getting around in other ways at 14 months.
The general range for walking is between 12 and 18 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, the CDC notes that babies can often take a few independent steps
Before walking, there’s usually crawling. And before full-on crawling, there’s scooting or creeping. Before that, there’s rolling and even just learning to push themselves up off the floor.
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 building core muscle strength to supporting their weight to controlling their limb movements.
Here are the movement milestones babies pass as they’re learning to walk.
At birth, your baby 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.
According to experts, your baby will develop head control around 3 months and more control over their neck and trunk by 4 months, including 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 to 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. By 6 months, they’re usually able to roll easily in both directions.
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 to 6 months
This will likely be a process. They might first sit with some help, then sit unassisted, and then begin to move in and out of the sitting position easily without any adult assistance.
Expected age: 4 to 9 months
Some babies opt to go mobile first, while others try to get upright before they start moving. Once they do, they may do some form of scooting or creeping. These terms describe different baby movements that come before crawling.
Your baby’s first movements across the floor might even 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 to 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 to 11 months
Your baby may start crawling anywhere between 6 months to after their first birthday. True crawling on their hands and knees can get your baby mobile at a surprising speed, but there are a lot of other ways your baby might choose to get around.
Some babies never crawl. Instead, they go straight from rolling or creeping and scooting to walking.
Many babies, though, rely on the developmental skills that crawling provides, experts say. Crawling helps strengthen muscles, establishes body awareness, and teaches the left and right sides to work in coordination.
Expected age: 6 to 13 months
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 holding the furniture with their hands for support. So make sure all your furniture is stable and safe for baby to lean on while getting around because everything is fair game in their quest to navigate the room.
Expected age: 6 to 13 months
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 reach true mobility.
Balance is a key factor in standing solo, which your baby could be doing at only 6 months — but it’s also perfectly fine if they wait until after their first birthday.
Expected age: 6 to 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. 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 little one 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 second birthday.
Expected age: 8 to 18 months
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 also 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.
Make sure your baby’s space is safe for their increasing mobility. Babyproof your home by covering sharp corners, securing furniture, and moving breakables out of the way, so your baby can explore safely.
Don’t stress if your baby doesn’t progress smoothly through the stages of mobility. Setbacks, like falls, are expected as your baby learns to walk. They may even take their first steps, then go back to crawling for a little while as they gain confidence for more steps.
First, don’t panic! Between 9 and 18 months is a wide range of when your baby might reach the walking milestone, and that means in most cases, you don’t need to be concerned about where your baby’s skills are right now.
This ensures you’ll be intervening early in your baby’s development and nipping any potential concerns in the bud (although, we want to say again that your baby might just be a slow walker who needs a little more time!).
You should also speak with their doctor about possible further evaluation if your child:
- develops a skill and then seems to lose it entirely
- goes “backward” in their development
- is getting slower or clumsier
- is displaying lopsided movement, where they’re better at moving on one side than the other
Why is there such a wide window or age range for what’s considered “normal” for when baby will start to walk? How can parents tell if their baby is on schedule?Anonymous
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, MD, FAAPAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
It’s common for babies to walk sometime between 9 and 18 months, but there are a lot of milestones that lead up to walking.
If your baby is moving on a slightly slower timeline overall, they might not walk by 18 months, either. It’s a good idea to mention it to your child’s pediatrician just in case, but try not to stress about your baby’s mobility unless you’re noticing other concerning problems or developmental delays.