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Walking

The moment at which Jimmy goes from the monkey stage to upright walking is a major step in his evolution. Though the average child walks at around thirteen months, there is a wide disparity in when kids reach this milestone. Some pick up and go as early as eight months; others take much longer. If a child is not yet walking by fifteen months, parents often become a little nervous. If, over the next few months, the child still remains on all fours, parents really start to worry. But in reality it can take a good twenty months for a child to walk. Put plainly, Jimmy will walk when Jimmy is ready. It has more to do with coordination and brain maturation than with muscular strength, which varies widely from kid to kid. Eventually, everybody learns how to walk, barring physical impairment.

Doctors and parents often make late walkers the subjects of unnecessary interventions. For example, I recently saw an eighteen-month-old girl who was not yet walking. A developmental specialist had prescribed an MRI of the brain, even though she had no underlying conditions. She just had a slightly lower muscle tone in her legs, as many kids do. Her grandmother and I were confident that she was just taking her own sweet time. We managed to convince the worried parents to hold off on the MRI, and just two months to worry any more; they were too busy chasing their daughter, who was running all around the house.

I commonly see doctors and other health-care professionals recommend that parents “train” late walkers to walk. This is a waste of time. There is little you can or should do to speed up the learning process, and if Jimmy feels pressured by your earnest interest in his locomotion, it may interfere with his natural desire to try.

If Jimmy is a late walker, my best advice is to wait patiently and just enjoy the extra time you have on your hands while he’s still down on all fours, walking on his.