Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finding the Silver Lining: When Your Baby is a Late Walker

It is all too easy to fall into the ‘comparison game.’ You know the one – where you can’t help but compare your child to the children of your friends, their friends, and anyone else you may randomly meet. If your little John or Susie doesn’t do something at the same time or earlier, it is so easy to start to go into panic mode, thinking that maybe, just maybe, there could be something wrong with your child.

It's important to remember, however, that the “average” age for babies to do things like walk is just that – an average. It is not at all a negative indication if they are slower to walk than the kid down the street. In fact, there are studies showing that the longer a baby spends in the crawling phase, the better!

Crawling is important because it engages both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, supporting the development of neurological coordination. This development period is so important, that studies have shown that those babies who skip or have a very short time crawling score lower on assessment tests on average. (There’s that word “average” again! Remember, just because your child falls outside of the “average” it is not cause for panic! If your child is an early walker, it will be okay!)

Another thing to remember is that if your child was born prematurely, you should “correct” their age when looking at things like milestones. Preemie’s are not quite done developing to the same rate as babies born to term, which means that during their first few weeks, they are just catching up to where they would have been had they been born closer to their due date. This sets all those other milestones back, and it is perfectly natural!

A baby has so much to learn in their first year, that it's best to let them learn in their own time, rather than trying to “teach” them something they aren’t quite ready for. That will only make for unhappy parents and unhappy babies!

If there is only one thing you would take away from this post, I hope it would be this:  Whatever you do, don’t compare your children to others! This isn’t healthy for you or your children. Your doctor is the only one who should tell you there might be something to worry about, so try not to let those negative thoughts creep in.

If you want to read more about the scientific implications of early walking, you can do so here:

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  1. This is such a good reminder! Each baby is on their own timetable! My babies are all late talkers. With my first, I was much more concerned with it. Now that I am on my third, I know to be patient and not worry quite as much!

  2. I know. I remember being impressed when someone said their baby started walking at 9 months and I thought my little girl seemed so smart (and she is!) and I kept hoping she would be an early walker too. But why was I in such a hurry? LOL

  3. Great reminder! That's the main thing I tell my parents at school-- they just don't know how it affects the children

  4. I tried not to compare our son to the other children around us. He walked very early, at 8 months, but he didn't talk right away... at least not anything we could understand. He talked but it was like a foreign language that only he understood! Even though he's older, it's sometimes hard not to compare because he has many talents and interests, but has none of them are sports, but people here are sports obsessed.

    1. My husband struggles with the sports issue too. He is an athlete and our son is decidedly NOT.

  5. I have a good friend who had a baby girl a week or two before my little man was born. I always compare between the two. But the big problem with this is that boys and girls develop so much differently. She is talking so much while my baby boy is going a bit slower. I know it's normal but it's hard to not compare.

    Erin K. (

  6. Our daughter didn't begin to walk until she was 14 months. We used to say that she put all of her energy into talking. The funny thing is, she graduated from college and became and English teacher. She needed those extra months as a toddler to establish her early vocabulary, so that she could later teach her students.