The Impact of Walking on Your Baby’s Development

As babies age, they learn to walk independently. First steps may take place while still holding onto someone or something for support; as time progresses, however, they might start exploring more freely around their environment.

Babies from various cultures learn to walk at different ages; within a particular society, however, this depends on how much practice infants receive before making the leap into walking.


Walking is an essential milestone for your baby, helping them build strength, balance, and prepare them to run. Additionally, walking helps shape hip joints, train leg muscles, provide visual experience from an upright position, and is even an early indicator of language development.

Most babies start walking between nine and 18 months. Prior to that, they will have been rolling over, sitting up, bottom shuffling, crawling, and furniture cruising. At this time it is important to remember that every child is different and will progress at his/her own pace.

One study discovered that infants fed solid foods alongside breastfeeding began standing and walking 7 percent earlier. This may have been because infants who were already walking had greater endurance than crawlers and therefore required less time for practice with balance and coordination. Baby walkers (which feature wheeled bases with seats featuring leg openings) have been suggested to slow the journey toward independence, so avoid these devices where possible.


The coordination required for walking involves more than simply shifting weight from leg to leg; your baby must also balance their body, focus their gaze upon different objects, and choose which steps they take – skills essential to their overall cognitive development.

An average baby will usually start crawling and furniture cruising by approximately one year old, although independent walking may take much longer due to individual child development at different rates. That is completely normal as every child develops at their own rate.

At our research institute, we found that infants who had experienced at least four weeks of walking performed better on an effortful visual search task than novice walkers despite differences in crawling experience and initial developmental level at 10 months of age, suggesting walking experience may correlate with selective attention – an essential cognitive process which influences other domains such as learning and memory. This is of critical significance since selective attention plays such a significant role.


A baby can use exersaucer to gain balance and coordination as they learn how to crawl, pull themselves up into a standing position and navigate between pieces of furniture. They must first master these skills before learning how to walk independently.

International research indicates that most infants begin walking independently by the age of 9 months, although there is no universal developmental timeline. Some cultures encourage their babies to stand and take steps from an early age while other cultures use baby walkers or wait until crawling begins before helping their infant walk (WHO 2006a; Ertem et al 2018).

Justine Hoch recently conducted research showing that when infants are given locomotor toys, they are more likely to engage in activity and walk longer distances than infants who don’t receive such toys. This may be because such toys promote dynamic balance training, which encourages infants to shift weight from leg to leg while walking – essential skills in helping your infant overcome obstacles in their environment.


Once your baby has developed the strength to shift their weight onto one leg while standing with support, they may begin practicing shifting it onto different legs by walking alongside furniture or by cruising sideways along it. This provides another opportunity for them to practice shifting weight onto different legs and increase balance and coordination.

At first glance, walking your baby helps them build flexibility, but researchers also found that its benefits extend to developing selective attention. Studies revealed that infants who had been walking longer – particularly novice walkers – performed better at performing selective attention tasks than crawling infants even when initial developmental differences before walking onset and stimulus type (feature or conjunction) were taken into account.

Human bipedalism can be difficult to master, and learning this skill takes many months of experience – which varies significantly by culture. Some cultures see infants start walking prior to even learning how to crawl; in others, however, walking may begin later, sometimes up until 18 months or later.


Dexterity refers to the ability to work with fingers and hands. It’s an invaluable skill that helps build stronger muscles and coordination for tasks such as holding bottles or turning pages of books.

Your baby is honing their dexterity even before they begin walking! Their primitive Darwinian reflex allows them to grasp your finger before grasping their own, with time their grip strength increases as does their ability to transfer objects between hands or grab toys that come within reach.

Development depends on genetics, environment, and parenting practices. Babies who are breastfed regularly with access to toys will typically reach milestones like sitting up, crawling, and walking more quickly than babies who don’t.


As babies practice pulling themselves up from sitting and cruising between pieces of furniture, they develop the strength required to transfer weight onto one leg when standing up and walking forward and sideways – two key skills necessary for later running and climbing abilities.

Babies who learn to stand and walk early tend to have greater confidence when walking later, possibly because their bodies have had more experience bearing weight supported by one leg than those who start later. Other factors, like their parents’ walking speed or amount of time spent crawling may account for these differences as well.

Pediatrics recently conducted a study that reviewed 599 milestone reports to ascertain when different developmental milestones such as sitting up unaided, crawling, and standing without support were reached by children. Researchers discovered that babies who began standing at 9 months were significantly higher on tests of cognitive abilities at age 4 compared with babies who first stood 11 months later.


The first steps can be an exciting milestone in a baby’s development, helping build muscle strength, coordination and balance that will allow them to walk, stand and run later on. But it’s important to remember that babies develop at different rates; some infants start crawling while others skip this stage entirely and jump straight to walking; if your infant still isn’t walking by 18 months, speak to their health visitor or doctor immediately so they can determine why this could be happening.

Once your baby can crawl and sit up on their own, they’ll practice their mobility skills by pulling themselves to standing on furniture or “side-stepping.” This practice helps strengthen hip muscles required for walking as well as explore their environment further. Studies have found that walking infants share objects more frequently with caregivers and prompt them with action directives than crawling infants (Karasik, Tamis-Lemonda & Adolph 2014) leading to further language development later.

Motor Skills

Infants develop gross motor skills through the movement of large groups of muscles used to move the arms and legs as well as the torso. These abilities are necessary for attaining milestones like sitting up independently without assistance, crawling unaided before walking independently with furniture support or on their own (known as “cruising”). Gross motor development often begins through an initial stage known as the stepping reflex in which alternate steps of lifting feet off of the ground occurs.

Early exercise can help babies reach these milestones more quickly, as can being motivated to explore their world more actively. That is why some pediatricians recommend baby walkers as an incentive for your child to get up and move more often.

However, some children require additional practice in order to grasp these fundamental movements. A recent study discovered that infants who spent time bouncing along with their mothers while they jogged or danced were slightly ahead of their peers in terms of gripping, jostling and controlling how rolling toys rolled. This accelerated motor development may help your baby acquire more active cognition as they age.