I’m concerned that our 16 month old isn’t walking yet. What are the main reasons behind late walking, and how should we handle it?
Every child is different and delays reaching milestones are not always a sign of a more significant problem. Many children start walking around or just after their first birthday, however, if a child is not walking by 18 months old, it is time for a more detailed assessment by a paediatrician. Parents should not panic as everything could still be normal, and it may not be an indication of any underlying health problems.
Common causes of delayed motor milestones include hereditary family traits – for example, the parents were late walkers, and these babies often bottom shuffle rather than crawl. Late walking can also be associated with having low muscle tone or hypermobile joints. Other causes include neurological issues affecting muscle tone, inherited conditions affecting muscle strength or bones and hip joints, all of which may be identified earlier than 16 months old. If all other aspects of development are ne and there are no other concerns, your GP may just watch and wait until your baby reaches 18 months old. Usually health visitors and GPs monitor development, and they may involve physiotherapy to help motor development if necessary.
Once your baby approaches 18 months old or other concerns emerge – especially delay in other aspects of development – an assessment by a paediatrician is recommended. In some cases a paediatrician may carry out investigations that could include blood tests, genetic/chromosome analysis, and rarely brain imaging. The majority of children who are not walking at 16 months will just be late walkers with no underlying problems. If you are concerned, see your health visitor or GP.
Smallish Magazine 2016