Your Baby’s First Steps: 5 Simple Ways to Help Him Learn How to Walk

Your Baby’s First Steps: 5 Simple Ways to Help Him Learn How to Walk

You may have just been getting used to the idea of your baby crawling, but at 9-12 months old another milestone is looming on the horizon: his first steps. There are a few milestones that lead into this. For example, he will develop greater Active, Coordinated Movement skills as he gains more muscle strength, coordination, and memory and his kinesthetic sense grows. Your baby’s kinesthetic sense is his ability to know where his body is in space, feel his body movements, and maintain his balance. This ability is based on his sense of touch and sight and builds over time with experience as he learns how to successfully use his body to be held comfortably, reach for toys, roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, and walk.1

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At this age, with his developing kinesthetic sense and Active, Coordinated Movement skills, you may notice that he has taken more interest in playing with balls. If so, he may be ready to start playing a basic game of “rolling ball” catch with you, where you take turns rolling a large ball (such as a beach ball or rubber ball) back and forth. While he will not be able to play a big kid’s version of “toss and throw” catch until he is around 3-4 years old,2 starting him on this beginner’s game is a good way of exposing him to the action of rolling and catching as well as understanding the concept of “give and take” play, or taking turns.

Many babies have developed enough coordination and crawling skills by now to enable them to climb up onto low objects, such as a couch. At this time, you may see your baby not only pull himself up to standing with the help of a low table, but even “cruise,” or walk supported, by holding on to the table.3

Once your baby is able to cruise and support his full weight comfortably, consider “walking” him by holding his hands or arms for support.This will help him develop his gross motor muscles and build the motivation and confidence to take steps forward one at a time. By 12 months, some children can take their first step or two on their own without any help! However, don’t be alarmed if your baby is not walking at 12 months, as the normal age to begin walking is variable.5,6 Do continue practicing his walking skills by encouraging him to pull up to standing and cruise and by holding him up as he moves. If he does not take any of the steps mentioned above by the time he is one year old, consider speaking to your pediatrician or care provider about your concerns during your 12-month well-baby check-up visit.

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Play Tips:

Do you want to know how you can support your baby’s development of these Active, Coordinated Movement skills at this age? It’s easy! Read on for some simple tips to incorporate into your daily play time together.

  1. Encourage your baby to develop his kinesthetic sense during play time.1 Build your baby’s kinesthetic sense by focusing on activities and exercises that support his exploration of movement, use of space, and balance. Consider rocking him when you hold him close, swinging him in an infant swing at home or at the park, playing “Rolling Ball” catch together, dancing to rhythm and beats, and climbing low lying furniture, cushions, or stairs.
  2. Support physical efforts verbally and with hugs and smiles. All of this muscle development and coordination is hard work! So, be sure to offer plenty of positive encouragement and assistance to keep your baby motivated. If he has trouble with a certain action such as walking, model or guide him to success. Over time and with enough practice, he will develop the muscle memory and strength to be able to master these physical skills on his own.
  3. Be sure to give your baby enough sleep and healthy food. Just like adults, children can lose their motivation to learn if they are hungry or sleepy. To power up your baby’s day, start with a nutritious breakfast and be sure he is getting enough sleep at night, along with 1-2 naps a day. Research shows that the brain strengthens memories and processes information during sleep,7 so it’s important to help him rest well by keeping his sleep environment dark and quiet. Physical and mental ability both improve with the right power supply!
  4. Watch your baby’s efforts closely. If your baby appears uncomfortable or tired, give him comfort and rest. If he appears stuck standing, help him bend his knees to get back down. As he begins to climb objects or stairs, stay close behind him to support him if he falls or slips.
  5. Provide a safe and open area to explore and move. Always supervise your baby’s active play. Secure baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Never leave him unattended in an unprotected area at this age as he is highly mobile and can get into danger’s way.

Developmental Milestones:

Has your baby achieved the following Active, Coordinated Movement developmental milestones yet? If yes, check off all the skill(s) she has already mastered to date using Playful Bee’s developmental milestones tracker. It’s absolutely FREE and easy to use, just click HERE!

  • Cruises: walking while grabbing onto support.
  • Take first few steps unsupported.

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1Gellens, Suzanne R. Building Brains. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press, 2013.

2BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board (2013). Throwing and Catching: Toddler Development. BabyCentre. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from

3Early Steps: Louisiana’s Early Intervention System (2005). Louisiana’s Early Learning Guidelines and Program Standards: Birth through Three.

4Illinois State Board of Education. For Children Birth to Age Three: Illinois Early Learning Guidelines.

5Benaroch, Roy (2013). Your Baby’s First Steps. WebMD: Newborn & Baby. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from

6Macrae, Fiona (2013). Why You Shouldn’t Worry about When Your Baby Starts to Walk. Daily Mail Online. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from

7Schiller, Pam (2010). Early Brain Development Research Review and UpdateExchange, no. 196 (November/December): 26-30.

Playful Bee

Education Team at Playful Bee
Playful Bee is an e-Preschool that delivers inquiry-based preschool learning from the classroom to your home. Our preschool curriculum was created by our talented team of rock star teachers. With years of hands-on preschool and Kindergarten teaching experience, they've developed a high-quality preschool experience that is convenient-to-use and easy-to-teach by you, grandparents, or your nanny at home.

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