Progression Toward Walking
When they get to be about six months old, babies start sitting upright without assistance. This process requires the development of core muscles and requires babies to learn how to balance. Once they learn how to support their own weight in a seated position, babies progress to standing. This process can take some time as babies must increase their strength and development before they can pull themselves to an upright position. Babies can stand at an average age of 10 months but it takes some a bit longer. Once babies can stand upright, they start moving. The phase between standing and walking is called cruising, and it can show parents that their child is preparing to take his or her first independent steps.
Cruising is a prelude to walking with a bit of support added to the mix. In preparation for walking on their own, babies will lean against furniture or other solid objects for support. They might even let go for a few seconds as they learn to keep their balance while standing. If there are adequate objects to hold on to, babies can move around the perimeter of an entire room by cruising. Eventually, they will fall, but babies learn to get back up again and keep making progress.
Once parents see that their child has mastered the basic mechanics of moving around, they can offer some support to make the transition to walking. They can do so by getting a weighted push-toy for the child, which makes it easier and more fun to cover longer distances. Parents should also take the time to safety-proof the surrounding by removing hazardous objects from the child's reach. They should also make sure that the child never uses a wheeled walker to practice walking as it can cause injuries. Walkers can impede a child's progress in learning to walk independently, and they can also be a significant safety hazard, notes WebMD.
The First Steps
While children practice for some time before learning to walk independently, parents will know that their child is ready for walking when he or she can lift one leg independently while continuing to balance on the other. The transition will probably not be graceful, and parents should not be surprised when their children take tentative, stiff-legged steps with outstretched arms and a wide stance. However, children who learn to walk progress quickly. Parents can support their child's newfound skill by holding his or her hand and accompanying the child on daily walks. After learning to walk on flat ground, parents can teach their children to master the art of climbing and descending stairs and uneven terrain.