13 Month Old Afraid to Walk Without Holding Hand

Updated on December 09, 2010
J.D. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
17 answers

My son never crawled; he's a scooter. Since he was nine months old he has been holding our hand and walking around. When people watch him walk, they say, "He'll be letting go soon," or "He looks like he can walk on his own." He does seem pretty steady, but when you try to let go of his hand, he gets scared and grabs on for dear life. He does practice walking between my husband and me regularly, but when he wants to go elsewhere, he reaches for our hand. One other thing: he does not pull up on furniture. He come to us for help standing up. I try to let him practice cruising around furniture, but he whimpers and sometimes stumbles. At other times he'll walk to me from the furniture. I asked the pediatrician about this at the one year checkup, and he said that some babies just don't like falling or bumping their heads, so they are a little more cautious.

Well, low and behold, just as I was typing that last sentence, he pulled himself up on the toybox. Maybe things are about to prorgress and I'm worrying for nothing, but what are your thoughts about his cautiousness? Anyone with a similar experience? Have we enabled him a little with the hand holding?

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So What Happened?

My son is now walking on his own! Two months ago, he just wasn't ready. Now my almost 15-month-old is off to the races! It just took some time for him to get his confidence. Thanks to all who gave me advice and confidence!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You've just got a cautious kid. I have one too. Mine was 14 months before he let go-- the doc said he wouldn't worry until he was at least 18 months.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Oh my gosh! He's fine. My son was (and still is) a cautious kid. All kids are different. Soon you won't be able to catch him to grab a hand! :-)

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

Its totally normal. They are just still learning. Like riding a bike. That feeling of the person letting go of holding you up and then nothing helping you to stay stable and upright. Everyone is cautious when first learning to ride a bike, right? UNTIL you finally know it like auto-pilot, by yourself.

Don't worry... they ALL go through this. It is all a precursor to the baby mastering a new motor skill. In no time, he will not be needing help... and he'll be running away from you! Literally!

He's TOTALLY normal. Hand holding is not harming him nor his ability nor making him unable. It is normal. They need help being steady. And really, in no time, he will be totally walking fast and able and not even you will be able to catch him!

all the best,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When you consider that the act of walking is deliberately raising one foot and throwing yourself off-balance in order to take the next step, I'm often amazed at the bolder babies who just go for it. It's a good thing they're built close to the ground. ;-)

Nothing is gained by telling a child (or a grownup, for that matter) that they shouldn't feel what they feel, whether it's anxiety, joy, frustration, anger, jealousy … those feeling just rise naturally in response to different situations. In fact, trying to reject, suppress, or deny feelings usually has a detrimental effect on honesty, and eventually on mental health.

So let your little guy take walking at his own speed. He seems to know what he needs. Be ready for the next "step," in which you'll be attentively watching as he keeps on walking while you're yelling, "STOP! Wait for me!"

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answers from New York on

My son was pulling himself up at 11 months, grabbing to anything, furniture, my hand, etc. and wouldn't let go for months on end.

The night before his 18th months doctor's appointment we went to Target, and he asked to be put down on the floor. And as quickly as we did, off he went walking by himself, along the aisles, around the whole store! So it's not that he couldn't walk, he just wanted to make sure he had it right, I guess. Maybe it was the smooth floor of the store?

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answers from Austin on

Hold a toy and let him hold on too. As you walk, when he is not looking, let go and see if he will continue to walk, It has worked many times in our family and with friends..

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answers from Philadelphia on

Let him be. My son decided to stand up and walk when he turned 18 months old. No need to worry. He is very cautions even when getting into the playground toys. That is the way he is and I am very happy with it. Do not put you own expectations onto your son's. That is a common mistake, we, as parents, do very frequently without thinking about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Some babies don't start walking at all until 18 months. So your son is doing fine. I would continue to allow him to hold your hands, let him feel as secure as possible. Just remind yourself he won't be holding your hand when he goes to high school (any time I'm frustrated over something I remind myself that my kids won't be doing that when they are in HS. It makes me laugh to visualize a HS student doing whatever the toddler behavior is & puts things in perspective.)
Hopefully, he will continue to enjoy holding your hands. Neither of my boys liked holding hands & it is a battle to get them to hold hands in a parking lot or any where else that it is necessary for safety. And my second son, who started walking at 9months, always has a bruise on his head from falling down. So, you are saving yourself that stress as well.
Good luck. You are all doing fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

No worries, he is normal, one day out of the clear blue he'll surprise you and your husband.


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answers from Cincinnati on

hi -
If you would like to work on having him walk you can:
* try having him hold onto a hula hoop,
* use walking wings (http://www.amazon.com/Upspring-Baby-Walking-Learning-Assi...) - some of the physical therapists use these
* hold onto a toy like Laurie A suggested

But before walking he needs to feel comfortable with cruising furniture - encourage him with his favorite toys at the end of the furniture. watch as he cruises and transfers weight from one leg to the other leg. sometimes it helps to apply downward input through his legs to help shift his weight by holding him around his hips or thighs or knees or calves (start high and move lower as he becomes comfortable with it).

Also when he is pulling to stand make sure he is using one foot and then another foot (eg on one knee and one foot and pulling up - you don't want to see him pull up to stand using both feet at the same time

good luck :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My 3rd child wouldn't take any weight on her legs at all , if you tried to stand her on her feet she would curl her legs up as soon as they touched a surface , this was all well after a year old. We were at the point where the ped was talking about x-rays to make sure her legs were ok , in the end she started walking at 17 months!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I used a helium balloon with one of my sons. He didn't even realize that he wasn't holding on to me & off he went...toddling his way through the house with his new balloon.

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answers from Fresno on

We have a hysterically funny video of our oldest daughter when she was about 10 months old. She had been pulling herself to standing since she was tiny (like about 5 months old), and had been cruising since she was about 8 months. So around 10 months we decided she must be ready to walk. Well, we walked her out to the middle of the living room floor and let go of her hands. She stood there, as steady as a rock, screaming her head off, shaking her little fists at us and yelling, "NO NO NO NO!" She's always been the sort of kid who has held herself to very high standards, and it seemed to infuriate her that she might fall down. About 2 months later, she began walking just fine all on her own.

I wouldn't worry too much about your son. He will figure it out! =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My daughter knew how to walk for months before she would do it.. did not want to fall. took her first steps 3 months before she actually took off and within a week, she was walking like she had been for months.. She was 16 months ..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

He will get it. One of mine was very cautious, and still is. She thinks about everything before she does it, and she was my latest walker and did not take a step until she was 15 months. She did not want to fall, she did not want to get too far from us, she would not put her feet down until she looked at the floor first.

Once he is older, you will be glad he thinks before he acts!


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answers from Allentown on

Hi, J.:

He is still a baby. He will still go through the developmental stages mentally if not physically.
He is doing well. Don't be afraid. Thank God he still wants touch.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hello,my name is T. & I have a 13mnth old Son, he grabs on to furnitures ,pushes stools & other light furniture,tries to stand not holding anything for 5-7 seconds,but quickly sits down when he feels he is about to fall,I'm sure he is scare to take is first steps for fear of falling, I used the walker,but its not helping,so I hold him & pull him up & holding him & help him walk. Hope he will be strong to take his first steps soon! I'm not worried, he will do it at his own pace

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