A child will begin to
walk as soon as he’s developmentally ready. For some children that
means at nine months; for others, eighteen months. The age at which
a healthy child walks has no effect on or connection with his
intelligence, yet parents often feel pressure if their child is a
late walker Friends and relatives may ask, “Are you sure he’s all
right? Why isn’t he walking yet?” or say, “My daughter was walking
when she was ten months old and your child’s already seventeen
months,” or, “Maybe your son needs to be around other children so he
can learn by watching them.” Such comments cause parents needless
anxiety because there’s nothing wrong with a developmentally healthy
child who doesn’t walk until he’s fifteen to eighteen months old.
There’s no need to try and teach a child to walk. Although it might
be fun for you to hold your child’s hands and let him walk along,
such an exercise will not help him walk alone any faster. Try to be
patient and wait until he’s ready for this stage of development.
He’ll prepare for independent walking by first learning to pull
himself up to a standing position while holding onto furniture. Once
he’s mastered this skill (which might take days, weeks, or even
months), he’ll begin to take steps while holding onto furniture or
onto his parent’s hand. Eventually, he’ll let go and take some steps
alone. A child who starts walking is usually so delighted with
himself that he hardly notices his frequent falls.
As he begins to stand and walk, his perspective will change. Before,
he looked at everything from ground level, but once he’s upright,
he’ll see more. People, objects, and even his own body will look
different. He’ll be able to reach more things and to roam farther
and faster, and that means his parents will have to continue
childproofing his environment.
You’ll find that one of the most delightful aspects of this
developmental stage is your child’s ability to go for walks with
you. As soon as he’s steady on his feet, take him for a leisurely
stroll outside. Walk at his pace, sometimes letting him choose the
direction, and see how many wonderful discoveries he makes. He’ll
want to stop and examine pebbles, grass, worms, and flowers, and if
you bring a collecting bag along, he can take some treasures home.
The more your child walks, the less he’ll want to use his stroller,
which can cause problems when you’re in a hurry or when you’re going
far. If you’re in a crowded shopping center and want to encourage
him to stay in his stroller, try distracting him with food or a toy.
If this doesn’t work, try to find an uncrowded spot where he can
walk for a little while without bumping into people. Often, he’ll
want to push the stroller himself, and in a crowd this can cause
quite a fuss. If you let him push for a little while, he may be more
agreeable when you place him back in his stroller. Although his
slowness and desire to practice his new skill may temporarily
frustrate you, you’ll enjoy his excitement and independence. And you
may be surprised to see that once he masters walking, he’ll be just
as likely to run as to walk.