In comparison to other mammals who tottering about within a few minutes of birth, human babies take a lot longer to start walking. And perhaps some of our fascination with the timing of taking those first steps is that it is such a significant change – from a baby who needs someone to take them somewhere to a toddler able to move independently on two legs.


But when it is it going to happen? When can you expect your baby to take their first steps?

At what age do babies walk?

There is no exact answer to this one: as is always the case with the stages of child development, there is a wide range of ages for reaching this particular milestone – and pretty much all of them are normal. As a rule of thumb, however, most babies have begun walking by 18 months.

When do babies start to learn to walk?

Most babies tend to take their first steps between about 10 to 18 months. Again, as you can see, there is a wide range of ages at play here, and each baby is different – even siblings in the same family.

If you happen to have a baby who walks at the later end of this age range, it's important to know that walking early has not been found to be associated with higher intelligence or coordination later in life.1

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When do babies in our MadeForMums community start walking?

We asked the parents in our Community when their babies took their first steps. The answers varied quite a lot!

Here's a selection of what they told us...

  • "9 months. She was tiny. Scared the heck out of me!" Natasha
  • "20 months for my eldest; 15 months for my youngest," Catrina
  • "9 months, 9 months9 months7 months, 10 months, 10 months. I have 6 children: number 4 took the biscuit!" Emma
  • "25 months. She has hip dysplasia and joint hypermobility so had to be given orthotic boots to help her ankles." Kimberley
  • "9 months for my oldest girl; 18 months for the youngest," Mia
  • "19 months. My son was a late walkerr; he's 2 now and runs rings around everyone," Amy
  • "14 months and 13 months for my two," Laura
  • "18 months for my daughter. She was talking well at 10 months and had no interest in walking. My son started walking at 11 months and his speech was much later." Jenny

What are the signs that a baby is ready to start walking?

Walking is part of a long process of gross motor development, which starts with neck control and being able to support the head, to sitting supported, rolling, sitting unsupported and crawling. But not all babies crawl before they walk.

These are some of the signs that your baby is about to start walking:

  • Standing with support. At around 12 months, babies begin to pull themselves up and into a standing position. This might be doing this by holding onto your fingers or by pulling themselves up holding onto the furniture.
  • Cruising. Once your baby can stand with support, they may begin to walk holding on to furniture for support and balance. They may then progress to walking with slightly less support, such as holding your hands.
  • Standing unassisted. The next 'standing' stage after standing with support is to balance for a few seconds independently and without support.

Some babies will race up through all these stages and others take more time. You might notice that your baby seems more fussy than normal around this time, as they experience the initial frustrations of trying to reach the next stage.

When your child does start walking, their gait will be wide and they will walk with their legs and feet spread far apart, often holding their hands up at the same time. As your baby gets more walking practice in, their gait becomes narrower as they gradually bring their feet closer together.

You might notice that your baby's legs are bowed, that there is a gap between their knees if they are standing with their feet together: this is normal until about 2 years of age.

There are still more stages to go though. Once walking, your baby continues to develop and get stronger. New skills – generally developed between 18 and 24 months – will include, generally in this order:

  • being able to squat down and pick up toys
  • starting to walk upstairs, putting both feet on each step
  • walking upstairs, one step at a time
  • learning to run
  • learning to jump
  • learning to skip

How can I encourage my baby to starting walking?

dad supporting baby who is learning to walk

Your baby is going to walk when they are good and ready, and it is important to try not to get anxious about this or compare them to other babies.

There are some things you can do to help them on their journey to walking, though:

  • Keep your baby barefoot or in socks. Babies use the sensory feedback from the floor to help them with standing and walking, so they need to be able to feel the floor. Shoes aren't needed until they are walking independently outside.
  • Make your house baby-proof and safe. Consider installing stairgates and plug socket covers, and removing any fragile, sharp or slippy objects from furniture your baby might use to pull themselves up or cruise around.
  • Give your baby plenty of opportunity to get mobile. Be mindful of keeping your baby strapped into a buggy or car seat for long periods in a day; find time to hang out at home and give your child space and freedom to crawl and cruise the furniture.
  • Turn developing walking skills into a game. Once your baby is able to walk, you can make practising walking into a game – for example, taking toys from one container to another, with lots of big smiles and clapping as a reward.
  • Stay calm when they fall. When your baby falls over, as they inevitably will, try not to look panicked – I know this can be difficult. Your baby may look to you to see your reaction, so being calm and reassuring, rather than worried, will help.

Will a baby walker help my child to walk?

Physiotherapists and doctors do not recommend baby walkers (where the baby sits in a walker or jumper device on wheels) as these can cause accidents.

There is also some research that shows baby walkers can actually delay walking or teach bad habits like walking on toes.2

A push cart/trolley is fine, though, as it gives your baby the freedom to use it to help them stand and then walk; just make sure it is sturdy and won't flip over.

At what age do babies walk backwards?

After forwards comes backwards, so generally children will walk backwards by around 18 to 24 months of age.

At what age do babies walk upstairs?

As we've seen above, there are stages to learning to walk up and down the stairs.

Initially, babies may crawl up stairs – and slide, feet-first and on their tummy, down stairs. Once they are walking they will learn to go upstairs with two feet on each step, meaning that if they are at the bottom they may put their left foot on the first step and then their right (or vice versa) and then repeat the process for each step.

Once they are confident with this, they will walk with alternate feet on alternate stairs.

Learning to walk downstairs is a little harder but progresses in the same way, starting with two feet on each step before going to alternate feet on alternate steps.

It's wise to keep using stairgates until you are sure your child is very confident on the stairs.

When should I be concerned about my baby not walking?

If your baby is not walking by 18 months of age, then please see your doctor. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is something wrong, but it is important to be checked over.

Pics: Getty Images


1 Child development: Early walker or late walker of little consequence, Science Daily, 28 March 2013
2 Effect of Baby Walker Use on Developmental Status based on Ages and Stages Questionnaire Score (ASQ). Yaghini et al. Iran J Child Neurol. 2020 Winter; 14(1): 105–111.


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Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice.