Baby walking – important information and exercises

Baby walking is a particularly welcome milestone for parents. Before their eyes, the walking baby is finally becoming a little child. As the baby walks, the world opens up to him or her from a new angle. According to scientific sources, walking promotes a faster development of cognition, language comprehension and social development. On average, babies start walking at 12 months of age. The range for this skill is quite wide, as babies can start walking at 9 months and the norm is considered to be as early as 18 months. So it is important to realise that each baby will start walking at his or her own pace and at his or her own time.

We can already see the beginnings of walking in a baby’s first month. It’s true that in the first months of life, a baby’s movement is based on primitive reflexes. In the first month, we can observe the automatic stepping reflex, which occurs when the baby is upright. By holding the baby at the rib cage, supporting the feet and leaning slightly forward, the baby starts to alternate between putting the feet forward. This reflex lasts from the first day and disappears by the end of the month, although it can last up to a month and a half. This is a reflex and should not be stimulated, as it is recommended to keep babies up to three months more horizontal (i.e. horizontal carrying positions should prevail).



Often parents want to get their babies up early, but it’s important to know that it’s best to wait until the baby is up on its own. By seven months of age, there is a risk of strain on the hip capsule and the muscles surrounding the hip (and a chance of increased muscle tone). Experts recommend not delivering babies until they are seven months old. First of all, the baby needs to strengthen the control of the trunk when sitting, and only later, when the muscles of the trunk are developed, will he start to stand. The first attempts to stand up are made by grasping onto higher surfaces with your hands – the crib slats, the sofa, the coffee table, the staircase, your mother’s knee or arm – and pulling upwards with your hands with your whole body. Parents often ask about the first time a baby stands up, as it cannot yet bear the weight of the full foot and often stands on its toes. This is because the whole body is leaning forward, towards the object of support. Here, parents can hug the baby’s torso and gently pull back to shift the baby’s body weight onto the full footrest. The baby should be able to bear his/her weight on the full foot when standing up, and if this does not happen in the first month of enrolment, it would be a good idea to consult a physiotherapist. He or she would assess the situation and train you on which exercises to apply to your baby. In addition, the baby should start walking straight with full foot support.

After learning to stand at the furniture, the baby slowly starts to step sideways on the introductory step. At the beginning, he holds on with both hands, and later with only one hand. After a while, the child walks straight to the furniture, no longer sideways. Before long, the baby discovers that he can stand up and push the furniture to move forward. Parents often wonder whether to use a walker? Should I use a push bar?

Physiotherapists consider walking to be harmful because the baby sits up and often rests on its bent legs and kicks its toes. According to scientific literature, a walker can create an incorrect gait pattern (the child may start walking on the tips of his toes) and if used too early can cause leg deformities. In some countries, it is even illegal to sell walkers.

In contrast to a walker, a pushchair can be useful for developing walking skills. The baby learns to hold the body upright and to push the pushchair not only forwards but also backwards and sideways. This is how a toddler learns to change direction when walking. When choosing a pushchair, it is important that the pushchair is not too light, because if the baby pushes it, it will fall off too quickly and the baby will fall.

Finally, before a baby can walk on its own, it still needs to learn to stand without support, to balance while standing, and to be able to shift its body weight from one leg to the other. It is important for a baby to have confidence in themselves and their environment, which is why parents need to help, encourage and encourage their baby to be unafraid to walk and not to fall when they learn to walk. The baby must fall safely, i.e. onto the seat. If the baby does not know how to fall safely, parents can put their arms around the baby’s hips and gently pull the baby backwards and downwards so that the baby’s legs bend and the baby sits on the ground.

Parents often wonder when it is OK to start leading their baby by the hand. This should be done when the baby shows signs of being ready to walk, i.e. by standing next to the furniture, walking along the side of the furniture, trying to walk in front of it, pushing the furniture. Also, it is important to know how to guide your baby. In the past, it was common practice to carry a baby with the arms raised, but according to traumatologists, it is unsafe to carry a baby in this way because of the risk of immersion of the elbow joint. So you should lead your baby with your arms around the baby’s wrists and your hands at or below the baby’s shoulders. This way, the baby will be able to hold its own weight and balance, and walk with a straighter posture. In other words, your baby will soon learn to walk on his own.

Exercise to develop standing balance:

Place the baby against a piece of furniture (facing the furniture), put your arms around her hips and gently rock her backwards, forwards, backwards, left, right. Later, we can swing side to side so that the baby remains standing on one leg.

Exercise to teach safe falling and learning to glide-stand:

Place the baby against a piece of furniture (facing the furniture), hug the hips, guide the baby’s attention downwards (with a rattle, etc.) and gently pull the baby backwards and downwards until the baby’s knees are bent and the baby reaches the landing position. Then we turn the toddler’s attention upwards and lift him up and forward.

Lect. physiotherapist Vaiva Selevičienė


  • Schneider JL, Iverson JM. Equifinality in infancy: The many paths to walking. Dev Psychobiol. 2023;65(2):e22370. doi: 10.1002/dev.22370.
  • WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study Group. WHO Motor Development Study: windows of achievement for six gross motor development milestones. Acta Paediatr Suppl. 2006;450:86-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.tb02379.x.
  • Mete M, Keskindemirci G, Gokçay G. Baby walker use and child development. Int J Pediatr Res. 2019;5(1), 051-056. DOI: 10.23937/2469-5769/1510051.
  • Rudloe TF, Schutzman S, Lee LK, Kimia AA. No longer a “nursemaid’s” elbow: mechanisms, caregivers, and prevention. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012;28(8):771-774.

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182624906.

  • West KL, Iverson JM. Communication changes when infants begin to walk. Dev Sci. 2021;24(5):e13102. doi: 10.1111/desc.13102.