Dear Parent whose baby isn't walking yet,
You've anxiously waited for those first steps and you wonder if it will ever happen. You go to your mommy or parent groups and see all the other teeny tiny babies running around seemingly like magic on those precious feet while your little one crawls across the floor and shows little interest in doing the same – your babe is perfectly happy moving about on all fours. You dread what the other parents might be thinking of your baby as he's clearly older than the others.
You've read books and articles on the internet giving advice on how to encourage your little one to walk and you've tried to put the methods into action. You've listened to family give advice endlessly and think to yourself “Am I doing something wrong?”. You worry that your in-laws think you're not good enough as a mother and that you're “screwing up” their grandchild.
Truthfully, you're not the only one who feels this way and you are not alone. Many many parents and moms out there worry about whether or not their little one is on track with their milestones. I can tell you this because I am one of those moms who has worried about why their kid isn't walking. I've searched message boards and read about all kinds of families having the exact same concerns.
My 16 month old boy has taken a few steps here and there but has basically flat out refuses to walk. We pick him up holding his little hands and try to set him on his feet and gently guide him only to end up having him throw a tantrum and crumple his feet beneath himself and continue crawling to wherever he desires.
I've mentioned my concerns to our family doctor and was told that at this point we shouldn't worry – it's at the 18 month mark when the worries should start – but we're getting close – so I'm going to obviously keep worrying. Donnie doesn't show any signs of developmental delays or any other issues so the doctor says to just give him time. The doctor also tried to reassure us that we're doing everything we can in encouraging him, etc.
I know I'm a good mom – I love my son more than anything and I want him to be happy and healthy. I've done everything possible to encourage my boy to get moving on those feet – There's only so much one can do until at some point one has to just let things go and wait it out. Lately, I've tried to stop myself from worrying (which has been difficult) about my sons reluctance to walk and just let him do it when he's ready. I give him plenty of encouragement and cheer when he makes an attempt – I've been also just allowing him to try when he feels up to it – I try not to force it.
He's clearly frustrated too and I can see that when he wants to carry over 2 toys to show me, one in each hand, but crawling makes it impossible so he just puts his head down and cries. He can walk – I know he can – I've seen a few steps before. Maybe he can pick up on the worry my husband and I have about the situation and this only adds to his frustration?
The good news is that so far since we've been actively trying to just relax and let the walking happen with time, Donnie has been making more effort and doesn't seem to be as frustrated with himself. I really think this is key – just allowing the milestones to happen organically when they're supposed to. He seems more confident too!
I guess my point is that as parents, even when we are told we are doing everything possible and in our power to make things right we still won't be able to quiet the worry inside and stop questioning ourselves. My little guy is on his way and it's just taking some time – he will walk when he's ready. The worrying and parental guilt is almost impossible to be quieted but it has to be – at least a little bit so you don't go nuts.
Please try not to question your abilities as a parent and just let your child reach their milestones when they're ready. Please try not to worry about what other parents think or say if your kid is taking their time reaching a milestone. Everyone really does develop at a different pace and that doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with your child or how you are raising them. I was told recently that my grandfather didn't walk until he was 2 years old and there was nothing developmentally wrong with him – he grew up to be an intelligent hard working family man. If it does turn out that there are developmental issues with your child you'll cross that bridge when you get there.
For now, try not to worry and don't beat yourself up. Know that there are a many parents in the same boat.