When Does Baby Start Crawling

At around six months of age, babies typically begin rocking back and forth on their hands and knees in preparation for their first attempts at crawling. Crawling begins with this fundamental building block. It’s possible that the child will start to crawl backwards while rocking before she moves forward. Babies typically begin to creep and crawl around the 9-month mark.

Did you know that babies typically begin to crawl between the ages of 6 and 9 months? The beginning stages of crawling begin when a baby begins to creep while rocking on his hands and knees. This is an important developmental step. This can happen at any time between the ages of 6 and 9 months, but it most commonly occurs around the age of 8 months. Whenever he hears your voice, he will either move closer to you or clap his hands as he crawls away.

When Does Baby Start Crawling And Walking

The muscles in a baby’s arms and legs are strong enough to propel them all the way to the toy chest across the room. Crawling on hands and knees, with some occasional backward creeping, is now possible because the legs and hips have started to support the weight of the body. The use of the fingers becomes more refined, and babies begin to explore the capabilities of their hands as tools. Toys or other objects, such as toes, may be picked up by them.

Are you itching to witness your infant take his or her first crawling steps? Learn at what age babies reach the milestone of crawling, as well as what this means for their subsequent physical development. Your child will be crawling and making a move toward independence before you know it.

Your body and the bodies of others have been your baby’s only means of transportation up until this point, whether you’re pushing her around in a stroller, carrying her in a carrier, or holding her while she’s perched on your hip. But in a short while, she’ll figure out how to crawl, and then she’ll be able to get herself from point A to point B all by herself. According to Rallie McAllister, M.D., co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, “crawling is a huge milestone for babies because it’s the first step toward independent mobility.” Crawling is the first step toward independent mobility.

When Does A Baby Typically Start Crawling

Your infant will feel a great sense of power and accomplishment when she is able to get around all by herself, which will be a huge boost to her sense of who she is. In addition, it paves the way for her to learn more complex movements, such as pulling herself up to stand, walking, and eventually running. It also enables her to explore new areas of the world. In this section, you will find additional information about the age at which babies first begin to crawl, as well as suggestions for guiding your child toward independent movement.

Is the wee one already crawling and getting around? Make sure they are comfortable and confident while they are out and about with Huggies. The Little Movers diaper is a worry-free option for active play, including running, jumping, and other physical activities.
When do babies first begin to sit up?
Before infants can sit up independently, they need to be able to support their heads without assistance and have sufficient upper-body strength. Around the age of two months, infants typically have the ability to hold their heads up and begin to push themselves up on their arms while lying on their stomachs.

At the age of four months, a baby can typically support his or her head without assistance, and at the age of six months, he or she begins to sit with some assistance. At nine months old, he or she is able to sit well without support and can get into and out of a sitting position, although they may still need assistance. At the age of 12 months, he or she is able to sit without assistance.

The upper body and neck muscles that your baby needs to be able to sit up are better developed through tummy time. Encourage your baby to sit up around the age of six months by either helping him or her to sit or by supporting him or her with pillows to allow him or her to look around.

To encourage rolling over, place your baby on a blanket on the floor with a toy or book to one side near him/her to reach toward with his/her arms.

When do babies crawl?
At 6 months old, babies will rock back and forth on hands and knees. This is a building block to crawling. As the child rocks, he may start to crawl backwards before moving forward. By 9 months old, babies typically creep and crawl. Some babies do a commando-type crawl, pulling themselves along the floor by their arms.

To encourage a child’s crawling development, allow your baby to play on the floor in a safe area away from stairs. Place favourite toys just out of reach as the baby is rocking back and forth. Encourage him/her to reach for his/her toy.

As your baby becomes more mobile, it’s important to childproof your home. Lock up household cleaning, laundry, lawn care and car care products. Use safety gates and lock doors to the outside and the basement.

When Does Baby Rollover

Things that you need to know about your baby’s first crawling experience: You should keep doing tummy time even if your little one stops to eat, take a break, and then starts crawling again, but it’s okay if they do. Crawling or creeping is a developmental milestone that most babies achieve between the ages of 6 and 7 months. It is difficult to determine when a baby will begin crawling; therefore, you should provide your toddler with as many opportunities as possible to practice tummy time and play on the floor.

Although babies begin to show signs of crawling around the age of six months, it is not typical for them to start moving around independently until the age of nine months. Continue reading to learn how you can encourage your baby to crawl by choosing the appropriate floor covering and other tips.

During the first few years of their lives, children go through a period of rapid development and change. It is never too early to begin monitoring your child’s growth and development by keeping track of important developmental milestones.

Because they are constantly exposed to new information, infants go through some of the most rapid stages of development. Concerning the development of babies, one of the most frequently asked questions is at what age babies typically begin to sit up, roll over, and crawl. All of these achievements are a part of a baby’s motor development, which can also be referred to as their physical development.

Crawling and Physical Development

Crawling is a tough job. It requires a baby to use both mind and body, says Dr. McAllister, and it relies on gross motor, visual-spatial, and cognitive skills.

First, the muscles in your child’s back, neck, shoulders, arms, and core must be strong enough to support her weight and help her maintain balance. Her vision also plays an important role. When babies crawl, they use what’s known as binocular vision, relying on both eyes together to focus on one target. They go back and forth between looking off into the distance and looking at their hands, which helps build depth perception. 

Your baby’s mental muscles will get a workout as well. “Crawling babies develop navigation skills and memorize facts,” Dr. McAllister says. “For instance, they’ll learn that they have to go around the coffee table and beyond the recliner to get to the basket of toys,” she says. 

When Do Babies Start Crawling?

Crawling is a developmental milestone that most babies achieve between the ages of six and ten months; however, some children may skip this stage entirely and move on directly to pulling themselves up, cruising, and walking.

Give your infant a lot of time on his stomach under supervision so that he can get ready for his first attempt at crawling. Because of this, he is able to lift his head in order to look around, which helps him build strength in his neck, shoulders, arms, and trunk. It is beneficial for him to strengthen his hips and legs by kicking his feet while he is on his stomach. Make it fun for the baby because there are some who don’t like to be on their stomachs. Place a favorite toy just out of his reach, engage his attention by lying down in front of him, or place him tummy-side down on your chest and play with him. All of these options will help keep him occupied.

When your infant starts doing baby push-ups, lifting himself up on his arms, or propping himself up on his arms, you will know that he is getting close to being able to crawl. From that point forward, he will acquire the ability to raise himself up using only his arms and knees. After that, he’ll start rocking forward and backward in his seat. Sooner or later, he’ll come to the realization that he can move on his own if he just pushes off with his knees.

Remember, some babies skip crawling altogether. But if your baby hasn’t shown any progress in becoming mobile (whether it’s bum scooting, rolling to her destination, or crawling) by 12 months or by the time she’s a year old, or if she tends to drag one side of her body while crawling, it’s best to consult the pediatrician.

Types of Crawling Styles

When your baby starts to crawl, he might rely on one of these crawling styles. 

  • Classic crawl: Moving one arm and the opposite leg together at the same time to push forward
  • Scoot: Dragging the bottom across the floor
  • Crab crawl: Moving with one knee bent and the other extended, either forward or sideways
  • Commando crawl: Lying flat on the tummy and using the arms to move forward
  • Backward crawl: Moving in a backward direction while crawling

Fortunately, odd crawling methods usually don’t mean anything is wrong. “The crucial thing is that the baby is engaged in self-locomotion,” says David Elkind, Ph.D., author of Parenting on the Go: Birth to Six, A to Z. Try getting down on all fours and showing him how classic crawling is done, and your baby may just pick up on the traditional technique.

How to Help Your Crawling Baby

As soon as your infant begins to move around, you should anticipate that she will investigate anything and everything that is within her reach. Even though you have already baby-proofed the entire house, you should go back and do it again in a way that is more thorough before your child begins to move around. If you don’t have carpet, you should invest in some non-slip rugs or bright floor mats to give your baby’s knees a break from the hard floors. If the floors in your home are made of wood, check to see that there are no exposed nails or splinters that could be hazardous to the health of your child.

As your little darling explores the house, you can anticipate him going through a range of feelings, including elation whenever he comes across something new, dissatisfaction whenever you remove it or take it away, and either confusion or frustration whenever an obstruction stands in his way. You can anticipate taking part in a “follow the leader” competition that will almost always be going on. He won’t let you get away from him, no matter where you go!

With more crawling practice, he’ll begin to pick up the pace (and try to beat you the next time he spies a goodie) and he’ll start climbing up and over things, like pillows, sofa cushions, and stairs. Always keep an eye on him, and put up a safety gate for the stairs.

Baby: From Creeping to Crawling

Now that your baby can sit up, she’ll begin to move around. We tell you about the stages of mobility, from creeping to crawling.By Parents Editorshttps://ea978a792119ece38d5bf21f51eaa657.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://ea978a792119ece38d5bf21f51eaa657.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlADVERTISEMENT

Playing With Baby: Get Moving

As soon as your child is able to sit up well on her own, she will begin to move around on her own. It’s possible that she’ll begin her early attempts at locomotion by “creeping” (moving around on her stomach), “scooting” (crawling on one leg while dragging the other), or some combination of rolling, rocking, and squirming on her stomach, bottom, or back.

The majority of infants reach the stage where they can crawl on their hands and knees within a matter of weeks. Some babies begin crawling as early as 6 months, although the majority do not begin this motor skill until they are close to 8 months old. Some infants never even learn to crawl, but instead progress right on up to walking. There is no reason to be concerned about an infant who crawls “late” or never crawls at all because experts agree that crawling is not a stage of development that can be accurately predicted.

It’s normal for a baby’s first steps to be backward, so don’t be alarmed if this happens to yours. This just means that your baby has better control of her upper body than her lower body at this point. She will quickly figure out how to move in the opposite direction as well.

If you want your baby to start crawling, you should give him plenty of room to move around in and let him have free reign over the house. Even though it’s summer, you should make sure his knees are covered whenever he’s outside (with lightweight fabric). If the majority of your house is spotless, you shouldn’t be concerned about him getting a little dirty while he’s crawling around on the floor: Even a trace amount of dust won’t be dangerous for him.

It is not necessary for you to put your baby into a crawling position because she can get there on her own by rolling over onto her back from a seated position or by rocking forward from a prone position. Also, keep in mind that her motivation to crawl is based on her new desire to get to things that she couldn’t reach before, so try to entice her with an object that she finds appealing or a toy that she enjoys playing with.

Have Fun With Baby’s Development

Social SkillsBy now, your baby’s social skills have probably blossomed. See how he compares with this checklist:

  • Baby prefers interacting with people to playing with an object.
  • He responds when talked to by smiling, laughing, even babbling.
  • Baby expresses dissatisfaction when you leave his sight.
  • He anticipates regular occurrences, getting excited, for instance, when he sees you come into the room.


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.

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Your Baby From 7 to 9 Months: Crawling

Crawling gives baby a taste of independence — and a new view of the world.By Holly Robinsonhttps://ea978a792119ece38d5bf21f51eaa657.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://ea978a792119ece38d5bf21f51eaa657.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlADVERTISEMENT


Ready, Set, Crawl

For the first six months of his life, your baby has relied on you to set him in motion. You’ve carried him, bounced him, rocked him, propped him up with pillows, and danced with him on your lap. Now he’s driven to move and groove on his own.

Baby’s Body Is Ready

The baby is able to put one arm in front of the other and crawl as a result of the convergence of two developments. To start, your child will experience a significant development in their sense of balance. Second, your baby’s muscles have become more robust as a result of the variety of experiences they have had while being positioned in a variety of ways. Here is an example of a common occurrence: Your infant, who is 7 months old and can sit up on her own, reaches across her body for a toy that is on the other side of the room. Her inability to maintain her balance is brought on by the act of reaching. She rolls over onto her stomach after attempting to right herself by twisting her body and extending her arms in front of her, landing on her stomach in the process. After she has fallen to the ground, she can raise her head and try to bring both her knees and her hands in under her. She is currently in the crawling position on the runway.

Of course, when it comes to babies, “crawling” can mean a variety of different things. Another infant may, while sitting, figure out that she can move from one location to another by pressing her hands against the floor in front of her and scooting on her bottom.

It is possible that her first attempts will not result in any forward movement, despite the fact that she may get on all fours, only to find that she is unable to move forward, or that she will attempt to push her palms on the floor, only to find that she is moving in the opposite direction of what she intended.

Crawling is no exception to the rule that it takes some practice before one can become proficient at it. Crawling speed increases by a staggering 720 percent over the first 20 weeks of learning, while the size of an infant’s crawling “steps” increases by 265 percent, according to New York University psychologist Karen E. Adolph, PhD, who has conducted numerous studies on the topic. Adolph is the author of numerous studies on the subject. To put it another way, once she gets the hang of things, you need to be careful because crawlers can move!

A Whole New World

Crawling doesn’t merely boost physical skills. As your baby learns to move independently, she will become more aware of her surroundings and better able to navigate them, says Lise Eliot, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and author of What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life (Bantam). There’s a big difference between being carried around and getting somewhere yourself. Crawling helps kids learn to keep track of locations and use landmarks to orient themselves, e.g., she gets to her basket of toys by looping around the coffee table and heading toward the kitchen. “It’s like the difference between driving the car and just riding along. Babies learn to solve problems by doing things for themselves. It’s not calculus, but it’s a definite cognitive advance,” says Eliot.

Adjusting to Her Environment

Of course, just when she’s learned to get to the coffee table for the remote, someone goes and leaves it on the chair! A shifting environment isn’t the only learning curve baby has to negotiate. The very act of balancing in different positions takes place in the context of her own rapidly changing body. Her arms and legs might actually be longer from one month to the next, and she may weigh more. Further complicating the mix, as baby’s skills become more advanced, her abilities change. In one of her studies, Adolph gathered a group of 9-month-olds who had been sitting up for a while but had only just started to crawl. In the first scenario, the babies were placed on a platform in view of a bright red ball 2 feet below. In their excited pursuit of the ball, the babies would have fallen off the platform if no one had caught them. Yet when they were seated with their legs dangling over the edge of the platform, the babies gazed at the tempting red ball but didn’t reach for it because they knew they would fall.

Why were babies more cautious in the second instance? The 9-month-old babies, with several months’ of sitting experience, knew what they could and couldn’t do from that position. On the other hand, as novice crawlers they lacked both the depth perception and eye-hand coordination to judge their own abilities correctly during the precarious new activity.

In short, every new motor milestone for babies involves learning how to balance and move in a different way, requiring constant fine-tuning of their bodies and movements as they try new tasks.

surprised baby on stomach


Crawling Worries

What If Baby Skips Crawling?

There are some infants who start walking before they ever crawl. In general, motor milestones are being reached by babies at an older age than they were 15 or 20 years ago. This is partly due to the fact that the majority of infants are now put to sleep on their backs. The nationwide “Back to Sleep” campaign has significantly cut the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but an unintended consequence of the campaign is that infants spend less time on their stomachs. It is recommended by professionals that tummy time be given to babies throughout the day so that they have the opportunity to develop upper-body strength and coordination.

However, not all infants will be able to tolerate being placed on their stomachs on the floor, and some will never learn to crawl no matter what. The good news is that there is no evidence to suggest that infants will experience delays in their motor skills if they do not crawl. According to Robin Adair, MD, who directs the infant, toddler, and preschool clinics at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care Center in Worcester, “giving your baby lots of chances to build up his muscles and experience the world from different vies is the important thing.” Crawling isn’t as important as giving your baby lots of chances to build up his muscles and experience the world from different viewpoints.

Separation Anxiety

Ironically, just as a baby learns to crawl and can get away from you, he may also realize that he’s terrified if you’re out of his sight. He often brings this on himself by crawling into another room or rounding a corner. Of course, his hysteria at being separated from you (or any other trusted primary caregiver) can also be brought on when you leave, even if he’s in the care of someone he knows. This phenomenon of being so attached to one person that a baby mistrusts all others is called separation anxiety. Most babies suffer from it in varying degrees between 7 and 9 months, even if they were chortling in the arms of any stranger just a month ago.

Don’t worry, though. “Separation anxiety is a sign that your baby is emotionally attached to someone, and that’s a very positive development,” says Adair. Some evidence suggests that the onset of this powerful attachment to the most important people in their lives is associated with a spurt in brain development between 6 and 12 months. Studies also support the idea that your baby’s earliest emotional bonds are the foundation for healthy relationships later on.

Age-by-Age Milestones

What goes into learning balance besides stronger muscles? The vestibular system. It consists of semicircular canals within the inner ear, plus a vestibule that houses important sense organs: tiny hairs called cilia, and minute bits of calcium carbonate called otoliths. Changes in your baby’s head position cause the otoliths to tumble along the hair, which in turn provides the brain the information needed to make corrections in balance. Starting at around 7 months, the vestibular system becomes hyper-responsive, says Lise Eliot. It’s the vestibular system that tells your beginning crawler how to adjust his trunk and legs so that his arms can pull him along more efficiently. Once he’s upright, it tells him things like how far he can lean over before falling when he picks something up.

Month 7

  • Can drink from a cup
  • Understands that an object might be behind something

Month 8

  • Makes multiple-syllable sounds
  • May shy away from strangers

Month 9

  • Points at objects
  • Rocks on all fours or crawls

In the Mouths of Babes

No matter how often you clean your floor, you’ll still find yourself pulling small objects out of your baby’s mouth. If there’s a lost button on the floor, you can count on his finding it!

These explorations are a normal part of development. Babies begin to explore the world with their mouths even before birth; ultrasounds routinely show fetuses sucking their thumbs as early as 16 weeks. At birth, sensations in and around the mouth are the most highly developed, so once babies can reach for the world and take it in hand, they’re eager to experience size, shape, texture, taste, and temperature by putting every object to the taste test. Mouthing peaks between 7 and 9 months and then declines steadily as babies become more adept at exploring the world with their hands. One study, by Jonathan Roberts and Martha Ann Bell at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, noted that 8-month-old boys spend “an overall greater percentage of time mouthing” toys than girls of the same age. They attribute this to “faster brain maturation of female infants, who spend more time examining toys with their eyes.”

While baby’s in this stage, keep potential choking hazards away, and let him enjoy his hold on the world’s delights and learn as he goes — or chews.

Holly Robinson lives with her five children outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, December 2005.

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.

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Baby Physical Growth: Delayed Crawling

If your baby is not crawling, cruising, or walking yet, don’t panic. Here’s why.By Norine Dworkin-McDanielADVERTISEMENTPinFBMore

Baby crawls forward


“What do you mean Fletcher’s not crawling yet?”

I’d been waiting to put my son on the swings at Mommy & Me, and another mom had overheard me bemoaning his steadfast refusal to move under his own power. “He’s 8 1/2 months and still not crawling?” she asked incredulously. I stood speechless. I was the bad mom whose kid didn’t crawl, would never crawl, and thus would never get into a good college. Or at least that’s how it played out in my new-mom neurotic mind.

“He’s probably just content where he is,” my pediatrician said, unconcerned when I brought it up at Fletcher’s 9-month well-baby visit.

Basically, in my doctor’s gentle way, she was telling me to relax. But how do you know when you’re making a big deal out of nothing or if your concerns are spot-on? To help you decide, here’s a guide to how babies go from facile kickers to speed walkers.

Before They Get Mobile

During the first few weeks of life, a newborn will spend much of his time stretching out his arms and legs, or “unfolding,” from the curled-up position he was in for the majority of his time spent inside the womb. It is reasonable to expect that he will be actively lifting his hips within the first month or two, and without a doubt by the fourth month, he will have reached this milestone. Charles Shubin, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, explains that “the baby is beginning to test the waters to see what he can do with those legs.” “The baby is beginning to test the waters to see what he can do with those legs,”

Don’t freak out if you notice that your baby’s legs look like they’re bowing slightly. Dr. Shubin notes that over time, the majority of infants’ legs will naturally become more erect on their own. Also, don’t be afraid to put the baby down on his feet and play with him. According to him, the stresses caused by standing help to straighten bones.

Babies typically discover their chubby little feet between the ages of 4 and 6 months, at which point they begin to grab them and put them in their mouths. It’s possible that they’ll use their feet in the same way that they use their hands, picking up toys and investigating the ground below them.

What to Look Out For: If you look closely, you might notice that your baby’s feet are turned inward. This is a common occurrence and, in most cases, nothing to worry about; it’s just another side effect of being confined in the womb. Your pediatrician should be able to gently pull the feet into a straight position if the bones are flexible enough, according to Kristin Hannibal, MD, clinic director of the Primary Care Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. If this is the case, there is no need for concern. On the other hand, if they appear to be stiff, your child may be referred to an orthopedist.

If your child is still not wriggling her legs between the ages of three and six months, you should consult with a pediatrician.

Readiness to Crawl

Babies typically begin to rock back and forth between the ages of seven and ten months, when they first pull themselves up onto their hands and knees. This is an indication that they are ready to begin crawling. Obviously, there are other methods of transportation that some children discover, such as scooting around on their bellies.

It may simply come down to a baby’s disposition as to whether or not they will crawl. According to Dr. Hannibal, “Some babies are more driven; other babies are more laid-back, and they are content to play with what is within their reach.” Indeed, some kids never crawl. According to Dr. Hannibal, there is typically no need to worry about it as long as they are meeting their other developmental milestones such as pulling themselves up to a standing position, cruising on furniture, and properly using their hands.

What to Look For If your child is unable to support his own body weight or does not have the energy to move around, you should consult your child’s pediatrician. According to pediatric physical therapist Gay Girolami, executive director of the Pathways Center in Glenview, Illinois, your baby may have low muscle tone (which occurs when the brain doesn’t send nerve impulses to the muscles or the muscles don’t receive them, which can lead to muscle weakness) or maybe he’s not spending enough time on his tummy. Both of these factors can contribute to muscle weakness.

Another possible warning sign is that you should take your child to the pediatrician if she is not scooting, rolling, or crawling at all by the age of one, or if she appears to favor one side. This is especially important if she is not meeting other developmental milestones, as Dr. Hannibal explains. This could be completely harmless, or it could be an indication of a neurological problem, such as cerebral palsy, which is identified in approximately 8,000 newborns each year.

Cruise Control

Children typically begin to pull themselves up to a sitting position between the ages of 9 and 10 months in order to get a better view of the world around them. In addition, by the time they are 11 to 12 months old, they are typically cruising, or taking their first steps, while still clinging to the furniture in the room or your hands. During this time, you might also observe that her feet have an extremely flat appearance. This is due in part to the fact that the arch hasn’t completely formed yet, and it’s also partially obscured by a fat pad, which usually disappears between the ages of 2 and 3.

According to podiatrist Alan Woodle, DPM, of the Greenwood Foot and Ankle Center in Seattle, feet that remain flat may need shoes with arch supports in order to encourage the arch to take shape. Low arches in young children are normal; however, feet that remain flat may need shoes with arch supports. In that case, the support in baby shoes shouldn’t be very substantial.

It’s also possible that your baby’s feet will turn inward. Again, there is typically no need to be concerned about this, as it is most likely the result of the position of the baby in the womb. If the in-toeing is not completely rigid (in which case your child will need to see an orthopedist), causing pain, or interfering with your child’s ability to walk, most pediatricians allow children to outgrow it. In general, both feet and legs straighten out by the age of 18 months.

What to Look For: When your child is standing, does she only use her arms to pull herself up? Does she appear to have difficulty getting up because her legs are stiff? Does she fall more than would be expected? Does she fall to one side frequently? These are warning signs that may indicate a variety of health issues, such as joint disorders, spinal cord abnormalities, and cerebral palsy. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the warning signs.


In order for children to take their first steps, they require confidence, balance, and coordination. As a consequence of this, children reach this milestone at a variety of ages. Robyn Kaminski of Windermere, Florida, says that her son, who is now 18 months old, began to “cruise” around the age of 9 months, but he didn’t walk until he was a year old. On the day of his birthday, he took three steps, and then the following day he took a few more, and then he was off and running. In the meantime, my girlfriend Maria’s daughter Sofia started walking at the age of eight months, whereas my friend Jesse’s daughter Anjali didn’t start walking until she was fifteen months old. According to Dr. Hannibal, the majority of pediatricians aren’t going to be concerned about a child who doesn’t walk until the age of 15 months if she appears to be neurologically normal in other ways.

What to Look For: If your child isn’t walking independently by the age of 15 months, if his balance hasn’t improved (he can’t walk by himself or has an unsteady gait), if he falls frequently, seems clumsy, lurches around, and takes very tiny steps, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Toe-walking, on the other hand, isn’t cause for concern if it’s done by itself. Pediatricians say that red flags should start flying when a child never puts her feet flat on the floor and the toe-walking behavior continues past the age of 2 and a half years. However, before you start to worry, you should have your child examined by a physical therapist or a pediatric neurologist. It is likely that the foot muscles have become shorter and tighter as a result of the child’s persistent use of toe walking.

It’s also possible that your difficulty walking is due to low muscle tone. Joanna Hunter, a mother of two who lives in the Bronx, New York, was under the impression that her 17-month-old daughter, Julia, simply wasn’t as active as her older son until a pediatric physical therapist diagnosed low muscle tone in her legs and torso. Julia has hypotonia, which means that her muscles are weaker than they should be. According to what she said, Julia had the mental capacity of a 10-month-old at the age of 17 months, which is something that Hunter remembers. However, after participating in physical therapy sessions twice per week for a period of six months, she was able to climb stairs independently.

Don’t Sweat It

Some kids are early movers, some are late. As a guideline, remember this: “You can still wait two to three months beyond the milestone before you panic,” says Michael Wasserman, MD, a pediatrician at Ochsner Health Systems, in New Orleans.

Even so, despite my own pediatrician’s reassuring words, irrational thoughts got the better of me. And so, when Fletcher was six weeks shy of his first birthday, my husband and I did what all good parents do: We led by example and got on our hands and knees to crawl on the floor. That didn’t work. Even standing at a coffee table, Fletcher was content to stay where he was, playing with whatever was easily within reach. Then we hit on it.

Apparently, the way to Fletcher’s mobility was through his stomach. We planted his sippy cup at the far end of the coffee table, then watched as the boy who refused to crawl slowly sidestepped the length of the table in dogged pursuit of that cup. Call it thirst or pure bribery, but our boy was finally cruising.

Barefoot Is Best

Even though baby shoes are so cute, you shouldn’t rush to put them on your kid as soon as you get them. According to Charles Shubin, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the best shoe for children who are learning to walk is actually no shoe at all. Dr. Shubin recommends that his pediatric patients go barefoot or use socks. He explains that without the artificial support that shoes provide, natural foot development is allowed to occur more freely.

In spite of this, there will come a time, such as when you take your child outside, when it will be necessary for you to cover your child’s feet. So that your child can easily feel the ground beneath their feet, look for shoes that are flexible, soft, have nonskid soles, and do not have arch support. Dr. Shubin says that you should provide less support for your child because you want him to learn how to use the muscles he already possesses.

Also, keep in mind that children’s feet grow quickly, so you should check the size of their shoes every two to three months (or every four to six months for preschoolers) to ensure that they are still appropriate. Hammertoes can be caused by shoes that are too tight (when toe joints curl under). According to podiatrist Alan Woodle, DPM in Seattle, there should be about a quarter of an inch of space between the end of the big toe and the end of the shoe.

Springing into Action

Here are exercises you can do with your kids to encourage movement:

Age Range


BenefitFirst 6 months and olderTummy time; playing in baby gyms, jumpers, and stationary activity centersCondition arm and leg muscles for pivoting, creeping on bellies, crawling, and walking7 to 10 monthsPlace a toy beyond her reach or put something against her feet to get her to push off.Encourages crawling and movement in general9 to 10 monthsStand baby next to a low table and put appealing items on it to get her to step sideways.Promotes coordination and at arm and leg strength that’s necessary for standing and cruising12 to 15 monthsLet baby push and pull wagons and similar toys; create an obstacle course with cushionsHelp and stimulate baby to become a more adept walker

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, a frequent contributor, lives in Orlando.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2007.

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.

American Baby

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