When it comes to milestones, your baby's first steps can't be beat. One day he's standing against the couch – maybe sliding along it – and the next he's tottering hesitantly into your waiting arms. Then he's off and running, leaving babyhood behind. Your child's first steps are his first major move toward independence.
When it develops
During her first year, your baby is busy developing coordination and muscle strength in every part of her body. She'll learn to sit, roll over, and crawl before moving on to pulling up and standing at about 9 months. From then on, it's a matter of gaining confidence and balance.
Most babies take their first steps sometime between 9 and 12 months and are walking well by the time they're 14 or 15 months old. Don't worry if your child takes a little longer, though. Some perfectly normal children don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months old.
How it develops
Your newborn's legs aren't nearly strong enough to support him yet, but if you hold him upright under his arms, he'll dangle his legs down and push against a hard surface with his feet, almost as if he's walking. This is a reflexive action, and he'll only do it for a couple of months.
By the time your baby's about 6 months old, he'll bounce up and down if you let him balance his feet on your thighs. Bouncing will be a favorite activity over the next couple of months, as your baby's leg muscles continue to develop while he masters rolling over, sitting, and crawling.
At about 9 months, your baby will probably start trying to pull himself up to a stand while holding onto furniture (so make sure everything in his path is sturdy enough to support him). If you help him along by propping him up next to the sofa, he'll hang on tight.
At 9 or 10 months, your baby will begin to figure out how to bend his knees and how to sit after standing – which is harder than you might think!
After mastering the standing position, at about 12 months, he'll start to cruise, moving from one piece of furniture to the next for support. He may even be able to let go and stand without support.
About this time, your baby will also probably be stooping and squatting. Once he can do that, he may be able to scoop up a toy from a standing position or take steps when held in a walking position.He may even walk while gripping your hand, though he probably won't take his first steps alone for at least a few more weeks. Most children make those early strides on tiptoe with their feet turned outward.
At 12 months, many toddlers are walking on their own – albeit unsteadily. If yours still hasn't stopped cruising, it just means walking on his own is going to take a little longer.
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