My 15-Month Old Is Afraid to Walk on Her Own

Updated on June 26, 2007
G.C. asks from McKinney, TX
10 answers

My daughter is ready to walk and has the balance she needs to do it on her own, but she insists on holding onto my fingers with each hand to take her wherever she wants to go. She's shown NO desire at all to let go and stand on her own, and she seems terribly fearful and angry when I try to encourage her to do it. Part of me wants to just "force" her to do it by refusing to offer her my hands, but I am worried that I'll destroy her trust in me if I do that... Am I being impatient? Will she eventually walk on her own? Or am I coddling her? My biggest worry is damaging her trust. Is that a legitimate worry? What do other moms do when their child won't let go...?

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So What Happened?

I called the ECI people and they came to look at Hannah and it turns out that she doesn't have the strength in her ankles to hold herself up, that's why she's not walking on her own. She was born very small (5.5 pounds) and has always been thin, but I had no idea it was a physical problem... MORE UPDATE: We saw an orthopedist and it may be more than just a weak ankle problem... Her overall muscle tone is low and along with some other symptoms he noticed, he's now referred us to a neurologist and a geneticist. So what started out as an innocent "why won't she walk?" question has snowballed into the discovery that there may be much more going on than we realized.

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answers from Dallas on

It is the same when we teach children to ride bikes we help but there comes that time we let go. You need to just let the little one go. Ignore her and let her get around on her own. Get busy and do things other then hold on to her. I have taken care of children all my life and unless she is fat or has shallow bone sockets she should have been walking 5 months ago. It is not about trust. Children learn what we model. She is not going to break. She just wants you to baby her. Let go. It gets harder as life goes when she is a teen. So we also have to give them more and more control then. Start now. G. W

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answers from Dallas on

I think you should let her go at her own pace. She WILL eventually walk (she won't be 18yrs old and expecting you to carry her!). It sounds like she is physically OK, she just needs a little more time to be comfortable with it. I would not take advice from people who tell you to ignore your child's needs.



answers from Dallas on

Be patient and let her take it at her own pace. She will do it when she is ready. I know my daughter and son "could" walk independently before they decided to "take the plunge". Continue to help her walk about the way she is comfortable for now..."finger walking", "cruising" cruising furniture or whatever. Continued practice the way she is comfortable will help make her feel more confident and eventually she will try it on her own when she is ready.



answers from Dallas on


Both of my children walked a lot later than I thought they would. My son was about 15 months and my daughter was 18 months before she really walked on her own. Needless to say, I was worried. My pediatrician said it was okay and not to push it. That's what I did, and everything is fine. When they did finally walk, they didn't fall much at all. I think I prefer it this way. If you're worried mention it to your pediatrician. Chances are s/he will tell you everything is okay. They'll walk when they are ready, and you'll spare yourself some premature gray by not pushing it. The tip to give your child something to hold (like a ball) in each hand is a good one.

Take Care,
Holly M.



answers from Dallas on

My almost 15-month old son is just now starting to let go and take some steps on his own. He is not by any means walking independently. As long as your daughter is mobile and cruising along furniture and such, I don't think there is anything to worry about. We will see out pediatrician for his 15-month appointment this Friday. I'm sure he will say everything is fine.



answers from Denver on

She is well on her way! Don't worry about it. Trust me, she will walk when she is ready. My son was still *crawling* at 15 months and is now walking/running just fine.

15 months is still within the normal range for not walking independently.



answers from Dallas on

Girls typically develop their physical skills slower than boys, so although she may be slightly behind the curve walking independently, I don't think you have anything to worry about. I bet she can "run circles" around my son verbally! Just let her do it at her own pace. You'll be running to keep up with her soon enough. Did you have your 15 month check up yet? What did your pedi say? You may want to mention it to him or her just for a professional opinion and to put your mind at ease. No doubt it's not an issue. I would keep on being there for her. She'll soon shoo you away when she's ready.



answers from Dallas on

Be thankful she is cautious. My kids were "Geronimo" walkers jumping off porces and running into walls/furniture. They walked too soon in my opinion and were constantly getting hurt with bumps and bruises all over them.
No worries, she will do it when she is good and ready!



answers from Boston on

I've just discussed it with a friend over the weekend. My son is the same way. She said that both of her girls just needed something in their hands to let go of the finger (or your hand). Give her a ball or a favorite toy to hold on to, and see what happens. That might be all she needs to take off on her own.

Good luck




answers from Dallas on

She'll get it! Don't worry! My daughter still suprises us every day! She was very quick to roll over, and be mobile in her own way (not crawling but just managing to get around) so we thought we were in for a early learner. Come to find out we were behind on everything from then on... We had really bad reflux and eating habits in the beginning so I can't help but know that set her back some but, she's been behind on everything a good 8 months. She's about to be 2 and a half and we're still barely picking up on talking.

It was a matter of allowing her to work in her own timeframe! That was the hardest part for us as parents to accept! She eventually picked it up, and when she did she was a pro instantly! Its like she was just sitting back learning it all and then one day decided to do it!

I know one good way is to hold two hands, and then get something like a marker (tightly closed!!!) to put between the two of you. Let her hold the marker and you hold the other end. Then slowly work the marker out. That way they don't get attached to YOU!

Let me know if you'd like to chat more, it was tough on me to realize my daughter was behind on so many things, but she's made it through and does just fine with others so it will be alright! :o) ~T.~

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