How does a child learn to walk? This is a skill we don’t need to teach; it will happen naturally and occurs in very distinct stages. Parents eagerly await those first few steps and often try to rush the process. However, it will take place once the neurological and musculoskeletal systems are mature and cohesive.
A child will begin to stand and cruise along furniture just before one year of age. However, walking independently can happen anywhere between 10-18 months. At this point they have a very wide stance and take many quick steps to maintain their balance. They also walk with their arms held up to protect during falls.
Within 6 months of beginning to walk the child will have developed a more natural walking pattern with their arms down and swinging. They also strike the ground with their heel first as oppose to the entire foot flat at once. However, their feet remain wider apart to help with balance.
As their neurological and musculoskeletal systems continue to develop and make connections they acquire skills such as running, walking on tippy toes, using stairs and standing on one leg. By 8 years old children have developed the gait and posture nearly identical to an adult.
Watching our children develop new skills is one of the joys of being a parent. These skills are inherent and will come with time but cannot be rushed. It is important to make sure your child is hitting the correct milestones but be careful not to wish this precious time away too quickly!