Courtesy of Cat Bowen

How To Encourage Your Baby To Walk, According To An Expert

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There's a time when your child has been crawling for a while that you begin to wonder if they're ever going to walk. I know many moms and dads who've stressed over when their baby will take their first steps, and that's normal — everyone's curious and anxious. So if you want to know how to encourage your baby to walk, you're not alone. But can you really do it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most babies walk around 12 months, but some are as old as 17 months when they learn to walk. It doesn't become a red flag until the baby is 18 months old, at which point it's time to seek some sort of early intervention. However, if you're worried about your child, even if they're younger than 18 months, you might just be excited to get your little one's first steps going.

I spoke with early intervention occupational therapist, Kayla Johnson of Norwalk, Ohio, to find out if there's anything parents can do in this area. She tells Romper that there are cues to look for if you think your child is ready to walk. "They'll start reaching for things with both hands outstretched in the traditional zombie pose. Even if they've only been reaching with one hand for a while now."

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Johnson says that they'll also be pulling themselves up on everything, doing something therapists refer to as cruising. They'll likely be moving from one end of the sofa to the other, around the coffee table, and pretty much anywhere else they can hold on and walk.

She notes that children tend to just walk when they're ready, and they're notorious for doing it when you are least expecting it. As far as encouraging your baby to walk, Johnson tells Romper, "You can encourage them to reach for things, or walk with them hand-in-hand. Make it a game they feel engaged in, and it might motivate them a bit more than just 'come to mama' will. Honestly, though? They'll just wait until they're good and ready, and most of what parents can do outside of clinical therapy is just for good fun. It's crucial fun, though, because it not only strengthens tiny muscles, but it activates the motor and somatosensory cortex, and that is essential to them becoming ready to walk."

My son showed zero interest in walking until he realized that he could better chase our two dogs on two feet than he could crawling. It was very organic. My dog took off with my son's snack that he'd thrown on the floor, and he wanted it back. (I didn't let him eat if after the dog had it, worry not.) If you're worried your baby isn't hitting their milestones, talk to your pediatrician. Otherwise, maybe run off with their Goldfish crackers?