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Wobbly Walkers - Development of Gait

From first steps to running around at the playground, a child's gait pattern continuously changes from ages 1-8! Read on to learn about each stage of gait development and what to expect at various ages.

10-16 Months Old

  • First few steps

    • First steps typically occur 6 months after a child learns to pull-to-stand

    • Large degree of both hip and knee flexion while stepping

    • Arms in high guard position (up in air by head with elbows flexed and shoulder blades pinched together)

    • Poor stability with frequent falls

  • First few months of walking

    • Wide base of support with flexed knees and pronated feet

    • Minimal or no trunk rotation

    • May appear to "waddle" side to side to progress forward while stepping

    • Entire foot hits the ground at the same time

    • Arms gradually lower with practice/in time

    • Progression from first step to taking 10 consecutive steps takes about 40 hours of walking practice

    • It typically takes about 2 months from the first step to fully walking around the house

    • Child learns to turn and to stop/start again while walking

18-24 Months Old

  • Heel strike emerges instead of full flat foot hitting the ground at the start of each step

  • Knee remains slightly flexed

  • Stride length begins to increase

  • Trunk rotation begins to increase

  • Reciprocal arm swing starts to develop

  • Weight shifting side to side becomes more controlled

  • Running (fast walking) begins by 18 months old and becomes more fluid with arms lower down around 24 months old

  • Any persistent toe walking should resolve by 24 months old (or after 6 months of full time walking)

3-4 Years Old

  • Pelvis rotates more in relation to trunk

  • Base of support narrows to width of pelvis

  • Arm swing should be in a controlled, reciprocal pattern and coordinated with trunk rotation

  • Running begins to look more coordinated

6-7 Years Old

  • Base of support narrows further

  • Stride length increases

  • Mature, adult-like gait pattern

  • Any in-toeing or out-toeing may improve by 7-8 years old

DISCLAIMER: The content in this blog should not be used in place of medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes. All activities/exercises posted in this blog should be performed with adult supervision, caution, and at your own risk. Big Leaps, LLC is not responsible for any injury while performing an activity/exercise that has been posted on this blog. If you have any information on the content of our blog, feel free to contact us at


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