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What Are the Reasons for Late Walking in Babies

by Lily Morgen
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Baby learn to walk

You may be worried if your baby isn’t walking by their first birthday. But the truth is, the normal age range for babies to begin walking varies widely. While some may be toddling around as early as nine months old, others won’t walk until 17 or 18 months of age, and still, others wait until after their second birthdays.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to late walking in babies.

1. Developmental Delay

A developmental delay occurs when a baby doesn’t reach their milestones within the expected timeframe. This can be seen in any area of development – such as speech, motor skills, or emotional regulation. In terms of late walking, it could mean that a baby just isn’t quite ready to walk and needs more time to develop the necessary skills.

2. Low Muscle Tone

Low muscle tone is also known as hypotonia. This means that a baby’s muscles are less firm and toned than normal. Hypotonia makes it harder for babies to support their own weight, which can delay walking.

3. Hereditary

Sometimes babies may struggle to walk because of hereditary factors. If one or both parents had late walking as a child, then it’s likely that their baby will too. A family history of developmental delays and medical conditions can also contribute to late walking in babies.

4. Prematurity

Premature babies are born before their due date and can be especially prone to late walking for a variety of reasons. Prematurity-related medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy or vision problems, can interfere with the development of locomotor skills. 

Premature babies may also have underdeveloped musculoskeletal systems and delayed muscle strength and coordination, which can lead to late walking.

5. Congenital Abnormalities

Babies born with physical deformities such as clubfoot and hip dysplasia may also experience late walking. Clubfoot is a congenital abnormality in which the feet are turned inward, making it difficult for infants to stand and walk. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joints are not properly formed, making it difficult for infants to put weight on their legs and walk.

6. Postural Abnormalities

Babies may also experience late walking due to postural abnormalities such as scoliosis or kyphosis. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine and can interfere with a baby’s ability to support their body weight and walk. Kyphosis is an exaggerated round-backed posture that can make it difficult for babies to stand and walk.

7. Environment

The environment can also play a role in late walking in babies. Infants may not have access to suitable surfaces or equipment that is necessary for them to learn how to stand and walk. Unsafe environments, such as those with steps or furniture that may cause falls, can also contribute to late walking in infants.

8. Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is another reason for late walking in babies. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are important for developing strong bones and muscles. Since vitamin D is obtained primarily from sunlight exposure, infants who stay indoors may not get enough vitamin D to promote healthy muscle development.

It’s important to ensure that your baby is getting enough vitamin D by exposing them to sunlight and providing foods that are high in vitamin D such as milk, eggs, and fish. You should also talk to your doctor about giving your baby a vitamin D supplement if needed.

​4 Stages of Baby Walking

Learning how to walk is a milestone that all infants must master in order to become independent. This process is divided into four stages, starting with supported standing at 8 months and ending with independent walking by 15 months of age. 

It is important for parents and caregivers to provide infants with plenty of opportunities to practice walking while providing them with the necessary support and guidance. With time and practice, they can eventually learn to walk and explore the world around them.

Early Supported Standing

Infants with good motor development can experiment with supported standing at around 8 months of age. A parent hold the baby’s hands and supports their body as the infant stands with two feet firmly on the ground. This helps them learn how to balance better and strengthens the muscles they need for walking.

Cruising

At around 10 months of age, infants can practice cruising which is holding onto furniture or a parent’s hands while they take steps. This helps them build the strength and coordination they need to become independent walkers.

Initial Walking

By 12 months, most infants can stand on their own and take a few steps without support. At this stage of learning, they may stumble often or be unsteady while they attempt to walk alone.

Independent Walking

At around 15 months of age, infants can walk independently and with more balance. They may still need support when they turn corners or climb stairs but at this stage, their gait pattern is similar to an adult’s. As they continue to practice walking, they become steadier and can cover longer distances. With practice, they will eventually learn to run and jump.

Through each stage of learning, it is important to give infants plenty of opportunities to practice walking while providing them with the necessary support and guidance. With time and practice, they can master the art of walking!

Final Thought

Late walking in babies can be caused by a variety of factors, including developmental delay,  low muscle tone, hereditary from parents, prematurity, physical deformities, postural abnormalities, environment, and vitamin D deficiency. 

As a parent, it’s important to provide your baby with a safe environment and access to activities to help them develop the necessary skills for walking. 

For example, help your baby walk and play on the playground. This can help your baby to gain more experience in movement and muscle development, thus helping them develop the necessary skills for walking.

You can consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s late walking. With proper care and support, most babies will eventually learn to walk.

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