The walking development of a child

Walking skills develop slowly; having taken those first steps a child does not learn to walk ‘overnight’.

The learning process covers an approximate period between 1 year – 2.5 years and can be broken down into three main stages.

  • First Independent Steps.
  • Confident Toddling
  • Running and Jumping

(a) First Independent steps
Most children take their first independent steps between 10 – 16 months. At this stage, the child is still somewhat unstable and will tend to waddle with feet wide and legs apart a – bowed; the gait, is due both to the need for balance and the influence of nappies. The child can take several steps unaided but will fall over quite frequently.

(b) Confident Toddling
After first independent steps, the child enters a second stage of walking development: ‘Confident Toddling’. This stage is usually between 14 and 24 months of age. Around 14 months the child has abandoned crawling as the only means of getting around and can toddle a few steps.

Naturally, the child’s mobility is Very uncontrolled at this early stage of walking, his on her braking and steering systems haven’t developed sufficiently to stop or swerve to avoid objects. Furthermore, the standing position also presents a problem at this very early stage. The child cannot stand without first using a support like a chair to gain leverage. Parents can help here with specially designed toys, such as ‘toddler truck’ – extra stable so that toddlers can pull themselves up on it safely.

The early waddling gait of those first independent steps although even at two years old, the Child will sill tend to stomp heavy-footed rather than using a heel-to-toe motion. But once walking has begun, constant practice makes it easier and easier. About 3 months after abandoning crawling. toddlers will be able to pull themselves up independently of Support – and, by now they will be steady enough to pick up things without falling or sitting. Around this time also, toddlers should be able to turn their heads and look at things as they progress – even glance back over their shoulders while walking. Just a few months further on, and most children will have learned to walk backwards as well as forwards and be starting to run. Once running, the child will quickly discover that he or she can jump. In fact by their second birthday the majority of children are sure and confident on their feet although spills, still can and do occur.

(c) Running and Jumping
From about 2 years old the child becomes confident in all aspects of walking. running and jumping. In fact, a child of three will have developed nearly all the walking skills he or she will have as an adult of thirty.