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Walking for the first time can be one of the most exciting milestones in a child’s early development. As paediatric physiotherapists, we often see parents who are concerned that their child is not walking yet but other children their age are.  

In a child’s first year of life, they are busy learning so many new skills at such a fast rate. Each new skill builds on the previous skill. To be able to walk, your child must have strong muscles, be able to keep their body balanced, be able to coordinate the reciprocal stepping pattern of walking and shift their body weight from one foot to the other. A child develops these skills when they are learning to sit, crawl, pull to stand, squat and cruise along furniture. There are so many ‘inch stones’ that build up to the complex milestone of walking! 


Independent walking is commonly associated with a child’s 1st birthday. This can be a cause of worry for parents whose children have not started walking by 12 months. However, the ‘normal’ range to start independently walking is actually between 10 months and 18 months of age; this is considered typical development.  

It is important to remember that development happens over time and will look different for each child. Some children may quickly transition from crawling to walking, some may cruise along furniture for some time before walking independently. Often the nature of a child can influence how they approach trying tricky new skills. Conditions such as having low muscle tone can make it harder to develop the strength and balance skills required when walking. Learning how to walk will also look different for children with neurological conditions and disabilities.  

It can be easy to start comparing your child’s development to others or what is considered ‘normal’, but in reality, so many variables go into the development of walking which means typical development looks diverse. 

Learning how to walk is a complex process and as paediatric physiotherapists, we are more interested in whether a child is “on the right track” and developing all the building blocks that contribute to walking, more so than whether a child has achieved walking by a certain age. Paediatric physiotherapists can assess a child’s gross motor development and provide strategies to improve a child’s strength, balance, coordination, and motor planning skills to support the development of independent walking. 

If you have concerns about your child’s gross motor development and would like further information or to book an appointment with a paediatric physiotherapist, please call The Physio Clinic on 8342 1233. 

Reference: Learning to Walk, 2022, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, Australian Government, 

Written by Maddie Dal Corobbo |  Physiotherapist at Prospect and Blackwood