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First Steps: How Babies Learn to Walk

Based on content from JOHNSON'S® Your Baby & Toddler, from Birth to 3 Years, DK Publishing Inc., 2004.

Most babies take their first steps during the end of their first year (between nine and 12 months). Don't worry if this development comes a little later for your baby. Many children don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months old. If you feel as if your baby is lagging behind significantly, however, you should bring it up with your doctor.

How It Develops
Most babies begin by crawling, although some skip this stage altogether and jump right into standing up and eventually walking. If your baby is an experienced crawler, he may be trying to attempt more challenging maneuvers such as crawling up stairs. While stair-climbing may help him learn how to judge height and depth and develop his sense of balance, for safety reasons it is important to install stair gates so he can't attempt climbing them without you on hand to help.

Very mobile babies next attempt to stand up and take a few steps while holding onto a piece of furniture, a technique known as "cruising." If your baby is becoming confident, he'll soon discover how to move across a room using pieces of furniture as balancing aids. Learning how to cruise like this is the last physical skill your baby needs to master before he begins walking without assistance. Encourage him to cruise and eventually walk by holding out your hands. Show him how to bend at the knees to sit down. Ifhe reaches a favorite toy by maneuvering himself across the room, remember to give him lots of praise.

As your baby gains mobility, be sure your home is childproofed. A cruising or walking baby can get into a lot of mischief. Also, as your baby uses her hands, legs and feet to move around, she's much more likely to get dirty, her skin may get dry from the extra friction that can occur with walking, and she can become more prone to nicks and cuts. For a quick and easy way to keep your baby clean, dampen a soft wash cloth and use JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TO® Baby Wash to gently cleanse in between bath time. Use a gentle, moisturizing baby cleanser when bathing your baby, such as JOHNSON'S® Moisture Care Baby Wash.

To keep your baby's skin moisturized after the bath, try a gentle moisturizer such as JOHNSON'S® Baby Lotion.

To learn more about walking, visit babycenter.com.