When your baby begins to walk, it is an exciting milestone! It can also lead to a bit of comparison-itis between parents, and often concern when a child doesn’t seem to be showing progress towards walking.
The average child starts to walk somewhere between 13-15 months of age. Most medical doctors won’t show concern until 18 months of age (unless an underlying pathology is detected before that). This leaves parents of late walkers with a window of time to worry, often unnecessarily.
Let’s cover some reasons why your child isn’t walking yet.
Your child is on the later end of the scale when it comes to development
If the average age to walk is 13-15 months, it means some children statistically have to be walking after that! Children develop at their own pace, and some will take longer than others to walk. Factoring in personality differences as well as rates of development, this is the most common reason why your child isn’t walking yet.
Not enough tummy time
Tummy time is a prerequisite for motor development in babies. The Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines recommend all immobile babies (ie not crawling or walking) have at least 30 minutes of tummy time a day. Learning to hold their head and body up from a tummy position leads to the development of strength and endurance in the muscles down the back. These back muscles are required to be able to stand up confidently.
Yes, some babies who don’t have that much tummy time still end up walking on time, and other babies who have a lot of tummy time still walk late. Tummy time isn’t a hard and fast rule for walking. However it supports neurological development and should be priority for your baby.
Balance and spatial awareness
The balance and vestibular system of the body provides feedback as to how the body is moving against gravity. Spatial awareness is all about how the eyes pick up the external environment and move the body around objects accordingly. If either of these systems aren’t functioning at their optimum, it becomes a very difficult task for a baby to trust that if they let go and take steps, that everything will be ok.
Babies with lowered balance and spatial awareness systems may be happy to pull to stand, or walk holding something, but tend to be very anxious about letting go and learning to walk unsupported.