What changes in infant walking and why

Child Dev. 2003 Mar-Apr;74(2):475-97. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.7402011.


This study compared the relative contributions of growing body dimensions, age, and walking experience in the development of walking skill in 9- to 17-month-old infants (N = 210), 5-6-year old kindergartners (N = 15), and college students (N = 13). Kinematic measures derived from participants' footprints showed characteristic improvements in walking skill. As children became bigger, older, and more experienced, their steps became longer, narrower, straighter, and more consistent. Improvements reflected a narrowing base of support and increasing control over the path of progression. Although both infants' age and the duration of their walking experience contributed to improvements in walking skill, experience was the stronger predictor. This finding suggests that practice is the more important developmental factor for helping infants to conquer their weak muscles and precarious balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Walking*