Learning to walk step by step
Walking alone is a very complex activity, requiring a mature muscular-joint apparatus and a fully developed peripheral and central nervous system that controls it. Hence, learning to walk itself is a long-term process and consists of many stages that the toddler must go through. Of these, distinctions require:
- Automatic walking stage (0-2 months old) - automatic gait is a reflex that disappears about 2 months of life of the toddler. It consists in the fact that a child held vertically puts his feet on the backrest and moves them vigorously. Of course, this has nothing to do with the correct walking process and is only an expression of the peripheral and central nervous system of the toddler.
- Leg bending stage (3 months old) - at this stage the toddler bends his legs when trying to set him in a vertical position. This is due to the immaturity of the child's musculoskeletal system, which is not yet prepared to support the entire weight of his body.
- Leg straightening stage (3-5 months old) - straightening the legs is an expression of the further development of the child's muscular and articular system and his ability to temporarily support the weight of his own body for a short time in an upright position. By the end of this period, some babies are already able to stand with the help of a parent (the standard says that this skill should be acquired between 5 and 11.5 months of age).
- Spring stage (5-7 month old) - the toddler not only stands by, but tries to bounce off the ground by alternately bending and straightening his legs. This stage in most children overlaps with crawling time (pediatric norm 5.5-13.5 months old). Nevertheless, each toddler is different and some babies may crawl completely or may experience early or later learning to walk.
- Stage of the first steps (7-9 months old) - this stage is also defined walking sideways, which is to illustrate the fact that the toddler takes his first steps with the help of his parents or by holding and following along the walls and furniture. In this way, it is able to overcome even a few meters, and this result is getting better day by day. Pediatric norm says that a properly developing child should start walking with the help of caregivers between 6 and 14 months of age.
- Stage of the first independent steps (9-12 months old) - at this stage the child is still developing his walking ability and begins to take, still very uncertain, but already independent steps (pediatric norm says that this skill should be acquired between 8 and 18 months of age).
- The stage of further improvement of walking learning (1-5 years of age) - the moment the toddler takes the first independent step obviously does not stop learning to walk. In fact, this process, much less dynamically, is continued for many years to come, during which the toddler's motor skills improve, his foot matures and his bones, ligaments, joints and muscles strengthen. After this period, unless there were any irregularities in the earlier stages of learning how to walk, the toddler should fully walk and run like his other peers.
In summary, each child is different and the above stages of learning to walk can be slightly shifted in time. However, as long as the general developmental standards are maintained (the first steps a toddler sets between 6 and 14 months of age and walks without the help of other people between 8 and 18 months of age) it is completely correct and does not require any diagnostic or therapeutic steps. However, in case of any doubts, it is always worth consulting with your pediatrician who will examine the child and assess his motor development.