Pregnancy and Beyond

Although some babies begin to walk at 9 to 10 months of age, and some wait until 17 to 18 months of age, most babies are "cruising" by 11 to 12 months of age. Some are taking a few steps all by themselves.

Unless your baby has some specific problem, there is no need to teach her how to walk, nor should you use a "walker" for a healthy, normal baby. You can help to make early walking easier and safer, however. Be sure that floors aren't slippery. Remove scatter rugs, and pad sharp corners of coffee tables and other furniture. If a piece of furniture tips over easily, keep it out of your baby's way. Be sure that she can't pull down or grab tablecloths, electrical cords, hot coffee, etc.

Babies don't need shoes until they begin walking outdoors. Indoors, bare feet give the best grip-socks and booties are too slippery. When you shop for shoes, rubber soled sneakers give feet flexibility, and they don't slip. High-top shoes don't allow feet to bend or toes to grip. Always roughen leather-soled shoes with sandpaper.

A 1-year-old's feet grow very fast, so shoes should be checked for fit every 4 to 6 weeks, or when you have to push harder than usual to get baby's shoes on. To check for fit, have the baby (wearing socks and shoes) stand with full weight on her feet, and check both feet. There should be ½ inch of space between the end of her longest toe and the end of the shoe. The shoe's heel should not slip up and down during walking. If shoes don't seem to fit properly, try other sizes and styles. Shoes with velcro straps decrease the risk of tripping on untied laces.

Many normal babies have bowed legs during the early walking stage. With time, legs and feet gradually straighten and point forward. If turn-out or bowing seems excessive, call your health care provider.