Why isn’t my child walking was a question I asked myself numerous times as my daughter, Alysta’s 1st birthday came and went. Not only wasn’t she walking but she wasn’t even crawling. She would roll to get around. Other than walking she was developing just fine. She had excellent fine motor skills and could pick up tiny objects off the floor. She made noises and loved to look at books.
At about 15 months we noticed that Alysta’s eyes were crossing. We took her to see her pediatrician who recommended a pediatric ophthalmologist. During the exam the doctor discovered that my daughter was legally blind in one eye and almost blind in the other eye. She was very far-sighted, which meant she couldn’t see things that were close. In fact when she would stand up the floor would be fuzzy. No wonder she wasn’t walking. We bought her glasses and that week she took her first steps. We were overjoyed, especially since I was pregnant again.
Then she had a series of ear infections. She stopped walking and started crawling. We wondered if the fluid in her ears was affecting her balance, her ENT said that it was definitely possible. Her pediatrician recommended we do some tests to see if there was anything else preventing her from walking. My husband and I dreaded the idea of blood being drawn and tests being done so we decided to wait a little longer.
A week after my youngest daughter was born, when Alysta was 19 months, she had tubes in her ears. The day after the surgery she walked 20 steps across our living room. It wasn’t long before she was walking everywhere.
The experience made me realize that there are a lot of factors that could be involved if a child is not walking:
· Weight – a child who is larger than average has a lot more mass to carry around. It is often harder to balance and their muscles might not be strong enough yet to support their weight.
· Vision – a child’s eyesight could be a factor. If they can’t see it is very scary to stand up and walk.
· Hearing/Balance – if your child has had a lot of ear infections their balance could be affected. Remember how hard it is to walk after you’ve twirled around; now imagine walking if you’ve never walked before.
· Temperament – your child may be focusing on a different skill like speech or fine motor development. They might also be timid and walking is a big risk. If your child will walk around furniture but won’t risk the open floor, this is most likely the reason.
· Muscle Tone – poor muscle tone in the legs can be a factor. If your child won’t support their own weight, even while you are holding their hands, talk to your pediatrician.
· Neurological Issues – this is not as common as the others but could be a possibility. If you have ruled out the other factors talk to your pediatrician.
· Delays in other areas – if your child has been slower than average to roll, sit up, and crawl it can be expected that she’d be slower to walk.
Remember the average age for walking is 12 months, but each child is unique. If your child isn’t walking by 15 or 16 months talk to your pediatrician and rule out any physical factors. Most likely your child just isn’t ready yet and will start walking according to their time schedule, not yours.