24 answers

My 16 Month Old Won't Walk

My son refuses to walk! I believe he is scared to fall. When he realizes he isn't holding on to something/someone he slowly lowers himself down to the ground. He will hold my or my husband's hand to walk, runs around with a walker, can pull himself up, can crawl up/down stairs. We have tricked him into taking a few steps here and there but can't get him to make the jump. The pediatrician says he is strong, has good muscle tone & that we shouldn't worry, but.... I am starting to worry. I noticed recently that his feet point out when he walks, I assumed this was for balance but now not so sure. Any suggestions for how to get him over his fear?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I wanted to let everyone know that my little guy started walking last week! Just in time to visit my mother-in-law. He is still struggling with balance and the way he stumbles around it often looks like he might have gotten into the wine ;) but he isn't afraid anymore. Thank you all for your great responses and encouragement. I shared them with my husband and knowing that we weren't the only ones with this issue really put us at ease.

Featured Answers

Pleae think about calling early intervention. they are wonderful and you will feel more at ease after talking to them. You are a great mommy for thinking fo all this!
Good luck

The age range for walking is different for boys than girls. Boys take more time with things like walking, potty training, and talking. Don't compare him to girls or to what the internet says is the age range for kids, because they are using a generic range and boys generally fall on the later side of it and/or after it. If the ped says he's fine...he's fine. Don't worry he'll be walking in no time and you will be regretting wanting him to learn. You spend the first years trying to get them to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives trying to get them to shut up and slow down. LOL!

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Hello M.,
I know exactly how you feel. I am also a first time mom that has a late walker. Although my daughter started to walk at almost 15 months, she had all the signs your son has. It is actually "normal" for the little ones to start walking between 16-18 months. It seems that most little ones walk sooner, but that's just cause they are eager and ready to jump ahead of the gang. I found that my daughter was also scared of walking and did the exact same things your son does, but then just one day, she decided to take off...she hasn't looked back since. Try having your son walk between people (like your husband and yourself). So he can walk from one person to the next. Maybe even hold an interesting toy in your hand so he is more interested in the toy and he might not realize he's walking. I did this in a triangle with three people and that's when my daughter took off. She had so much fun. Even though I had done this before with my husband, she wasn't too interested at that time. Maybe it was more fun with three people...I don't really know. I found that when I would try to make my daughter walk, she refused even more. I would cheer her on when she did stand and when she walked holding on to things so she would get the confidence to walk on her own. You'll see that when he's ready...he'll walk. I'm pretty sure that when he starts walking...he will just take off like my daughter did. It's cause they are so ready to walk, they are just a little scared. So when he does walk...watch out, he might even go from walking to running. Just keep cheering him on and encouraging him. As for the feet thing...my daughter does the same and so does my niece (who's one month older than my daughter). I think it is for balance as they waddle around and once they really get the hang of it, they'll straighten out. I hope this helped and everything works out. Even though you are a bit worried now...once he starts walking...you'll ask youself, "now how do I get him to stay still?!"

I am in the same boat! My son is 16 months & refuses to walk, I've been told it is normal & he will walk on his own. He does take steps here & there & holding mine or my husbands hand & that's it. I have 1 older son who was taking steps prior to 1yr & actually on his own at exactly 1 so obviously that is what I have to compare to. Plus I don't know anyone who has a child that walked this late, but I am told to try & not compare. So as I've been told- no worries! And I would like to know if you get any helpful hints!

Assuming everything is fine (if you're worried have him checked for YOUR peace of mind), has he been playing with other kids his near age or older - at the park or play dates? My son is 15 months but has a big sister (5 yrs) and tries to copy everything she does (not always good).
When we go to the park he watches all the kids and then tries to do what they're doing.

Your Ped. is right not be worried at this point. The age range for walking is quite large (9 mo.-18 mo.)so your son still falls in that range. Also he is showing that he has the muscle strength and the ability to do it but he just isn't ready to take the full plunge. I have know many children who didn't fully walk on their own until 18 months old and today they are fine! If you are still concerned, one of the previous moms suggested calling Early Intervention which would be a good idea to give you peace of mind. Continue holding his hand and walking with him and maybe get some push toys as well.
Once he starts walking there's no turning back :) Enjoy your strong little man because this stage won't last too much longer soon you'll be running after him!

Your worrying and fussing over it may be exacerbating the problem. If your pediatrician says he's ok then relax and let him take his time. You can't control him in that way and it will only lead to problems with other things. Parents get too ego invested in their children doing things by a certain time.

First of all don't use the walker no more, take a walk with him holding his hand every day or more than one time a day until he fields that he is strong to walk on his own, and encourage him to walk having him walk to something that he likes, like a toy or his bottle or something he wants.

Try taking away the walker. Walkers actually inhibit learning how to walk and can, in some cases, cause certain muscles to overdevelop and some to be underdeveloped. He might have more motivation if it's not available. Good luck!

I hate to tell you, you can't "teach" or "trick" him into walking. He will walk when he is ready. My oldest son didn't walk until he was almost 18 months. He is eleven now: plays basketball, football and runs. Enjoy him at every stage, things change so quickly. : )

My youngest daughter did not walk until this summer at 18 months. My other children walked at one year. At 15 months, my pediatrician had me get her evaluated through the early intervention state program for potential physical therapy. She wasn't standing alone and wouldn't let go either. We feared that she may have some sort of sensory issue- kindof what you mentioned- the fear of falling or the fear of feeling alone in his space without support. Her eval. came back borderline, so we agreed to P.T. for about 6-7 weeks. In the end, she just got up and walked one day and I ll never forget it. It was very exciting. Her ankles are actually turning in and they said it was because she wasn't bearing any weight on them. I would suggest you get your child evaluated. It's free and then if they qualify there is a monthly fee based on your family income. YOu said you've tricked him into taking a few steps... good idea. My P. T. said that is a good idea. For example, put your son standing against the couch with his back against for support and sit a few feet in front of him. Put something silly on your head to draw his attention "up" and coax him to come and get it. He'll take a few steps to you-- each time you do it... slowly get further away. It worked for me and it was fun
GOod luck to you-

Do you have a walker? My son who is now 18 years old would not walk on his own till he was around 16 months. But I think his walker really helped him get his confidence up. He could stand and walk and know he was never going to fall because he could just sit down. I would not be overly concerned at this point as long as he can hold himself up with out any problems he will take that first step soon.


My son is the same age and is doing the same thing! I called early intervention and they are sending out a physical therapist to do an evaluation for services. If he doesn't need services, at least I will know that everything is fine. EI does the evalutaions for free.

I also had a speech therapist come out about a month ago, because he isn't talking much. They evaluated him and reccomended services every other week. I figure that it can't hurt him- it will only help.

Boys are a little slower than girls. Get him around other children. He'll be running before you know it. They want to keep up. Your dr. said he's o.k. so don't worry if he's cautious. He'll get moving when he's ready or has a reason to.

Hi M.,
I had the same concerns and was in the same situation you were in. My son did not start walking until the week after he turned 18 months. He was the same way - he would walk while holding on to something and climb on things but would not do it on his own. Then all of a sudden one evening he just started walking around the kitchen! It was amazing! Don't worry, it will happen, when he's ready!

if you have a concern, you can always get in touch with Early Intervention for a free screening. You have to go through your local "CFC" which you can look up here:

Hi M.,

My daughter did not walk until the end of her 18th month. We were beside ourselves with fear, especially when everyone kept telling us that girls walk faster than boys do. We had her screened by Early Intervention and at 18 months they said her gross motor skills were at a 10 month level. I think I cried everyday for a week! One of the other therapists said that she really believed that our daughter was just afraid to walk and was a little bit of a perfectionist based on her observations and that she thought she would just walk when she was certain she could do it well. Well, turns out that was exactly the case. At the end of her 18th month, she just picked up and started walking really well. She barely even falls down! I guess she was just waiting until she felt comfortable. It is true that they are just on their own timetable and worrying about those milestone charts just made me needlessly miserable for a few months. My daughter is absolutely fine. She was just a little bit of a slow poke! :)

I'm sure your son will take off in no time!

The age range for walking is different for boys than girls. Boys take more time with things like walking, potty training, and talking. Don't compare him to girls or to what the internet says is the age range for kids, because they are using a generic range and boys generally fall on the later side of it and/or after it. If the ped says he's fine...he's fine. Don't worry he'll be walking in no time and you will be regretting wanting him to learn. You spend the first years trying to get them to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives trying to get them to shut up and slow down. LOL!

You will probably have one of those kids who, once he starts walking will just start running! If you are concerned, get him evaluated. Follow your instincts but don't be overly concerned that he has not met this milestone at the same time that all the "other" kids in his group have. It's a lot of pressure that other parents bestow on YOU...especially as a first time mom. However, some kids are naturally more observant and your son may be THAT child. Or there are probably countless other early milestones that your son has met that others struggle with. Those early parent days were rough sometimes.

Someone mentioned this and I also loved those "push cars" for my kids. However, we would find our car key or old sippy cups in there from time to time so be careful. My son walked around 10 1/2 months but was a very late talker and needed speech (when he was three...ended up in speech for 3 1/2 years. However, what he lacked in speech he made up in excellent large and small motor skills. At 10 years old, his mechanical abilities are a marvel - he has always loved to disassemble things - then re-assemble them. Amazing!

Enjoy these years - they are terribly fun!

Pleae think about calling early intervention. they are wonderful and you will feel more at ease after talking to them. You are a great mommy for thinking fo all this!
Good luck

It's normal for their feet not to be straight at this age. Maybe you should try getting a push toy instead of the walker. It may seem like too much work for him to walk on his own when it's so easy to get around in a walker.

Two things come to mind: 1) he's just not ready to walk yet! :) He'll do so when the time is right - enjoy his continued babyhood, as he'll grow up FAST! Pressuring him may add to the fear if that is what is keeping him down, so to speak, so making a big deal about it may add to the issue, and 2) if you really feel something is wrong, talk to his ped again or seek a 2nd opinion. As for his feet pointing out, that tends to be normal in most kids and straightens out by around 2-3yr old.

I read responses before I sent this to see if anyone else suggested this, and they haven't - so I'll throw it out there!
Have you tried bare feet? Meaning no socks (slippery) and no shoes while playing indoors of course? the toes help with balance tremendously - and I think some people put shoes on too early and prohibit the toes from doing what they can! Once they get their balance and walk barefoot, walking with shoes isn't a problem. That's what I did, and my little one was walking in 11 months - but that's rare, really. I mostly didn't wear shoes cuz I couldn't find ones to match outfits! ha! But then was reading more and more about how learning to walk w/out shoes is the best for them.

It's just a thought, and every child is different...but might try that for a few days. Otherwise, i think it's totally normal to walk anywhere between 12-18 months!

It's OK. My son moved around on his knees for months before he finally took the plunge at 19 months! Once he starts he'll never stop. Be encouraging but don't make him feel nervous and he'll do it.

My 3 year old did not start walking until the day she turned 18 months! She didn't crawl much either, mostly scooted on her butt. She is just fine now, very, very smart too.

My 1 yr started walking at 11 mos. I didn't do anything different, she was fast from birth. Go figure! I don't think you can force them until they are ready.

Hi M.. My son didn't walk until he was 17 months and I've met a lot of other parents who told me that their child didn't walk until then either. You may want to run it by your doc about his feet pointing out, but I bet he'll be running in no time. I personally don't know why I spent so much time worrying about my son and also about what other people thought.... He is now 3 and he ready for a marathon!


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