Baby Walking on Knees: Is It Normal?

As a new parent, I am constantly amazed by the incredible milestones my baby achieves each day. From their first smile to their first word, every achievement is a cause for celebration. However, recently I have noticed something that has left me puzzled and wondering: why is my baby walking on knees? Is it normal for babies to bypass the traditional stages of crawling and walking on all fours?

This phenomenon of babies walking on their knees may seem unusual, but it is more common than you might think. Many parents have witnessed this peculiar behavior in their little ones and wondered if there was cause for concern. Read How Conjoined Twins Walk?

Why Do Babies Walk On Knees?

Babies walking on their knees is a common phenomenon that typically occurs during the early stages of crawling and learning to walk. There are a few reasons why babies may choose to walk on their knees instead of using their feet.

Walking on their knees allows babies to maintain a lower center of gravity, which provides them with more stability and balance. This is particularly important as they are still developing their leg muscles and coordination. By using their knees, babies can easily maneuver themselves around without the risk of falling over.

It also reduces the strain on their feet and ankles. Babies feet are still growing and developing, so they may find it more comfortable to crawl or walk on their knees until they have built up enough strength in their legs to support full weight-bearing walking. Overall, walking on their knees is just one of the many ways babies explore and navigate their environment as they continue to develop their motor skills.

Baby Walking on Knees

When do babies start knee-walking?

Babies typically start knee-walking, also known as crawling on their knees, around 9 to 12 months of age. However, it’s important to note that every baby develops at their own pace, so some babies may start knee-walking earlier or later than this timeframe.

Knee walking is a significant milestone in a baby’s development as it helps them build strength in their legs and improve their coordination skills. It is often seen as a precursor to walking independently. If your baby has not started knee-walking by the age of 18 months, it might be worth discussing with your pediatrician just to ensure there are no underlying developmental concerns.

Remember that each baby is unique and will reach milestones in their own time. As long as your baby is making progress in other areas of development and showing curiosity and exploration in their environment, there is usually no cause for concern if they haven’t started knee-walking yet.

Causes of Baby Walking on Knees

By figuring out why your child is knee-walking, you can find a solution faster and help them start walking upright. Apart from your baby not being ready to walk, here are some other reasons for knee-walking:

Retained Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex

Human infants are born with a few basic reflexes, which are natural responses to certain stimuli. We often mention the sucking reflex for feeding, the rooting reflex for finding the breast, and the Moro reflex that makes babies startle. However, there’s another reflex called the tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) that is not as well-known.

The TLR helps babies navigate through the birth canal, develop muscle strength, and stimulate their vestibular system. These reflexes also help your baby transition from the curled-up fetal position they are born in. So, when you observe your baby arching its back and straightening its arms and legs in response to being tilted forwards and backward, you’re witnessing its TLR in action.

As your baby grows older, all of their primitive reflexes gradually disappear. The forward TLR, which is when the baby’s chin curls towards the body and the limbs clench towards the midline, usually fades away by around four months of age.

On the other hand, the backward TLR starts to fade around six months old but may still be present until the child reaches four years old. If a baby’s TLR doesn’t go away, it can result in knee-walking. This happens because their body isn’t receiving accurate information from the eyes and muscles, making it difficult for them to have a proper sense of their body’s position. It’s similar to experiencing vertigo, which explains why babies might be hesitant to stand and walk on their own feet!

If you want to figure out if your baby’s knee-walking is caused by retained TLR, check for other signs of vision and balance problems. Look for things like their eyes not moving together, feeling sick when in motion, struggling to judge distances, or having trouble distinguishing objects that are closer or farther away.

Orthopedic issues

Besides retained TLR, orthopedic problems are another main cause of chronic knee walking. Orthopedic issues can make it difficult or even painful for your baby to walk on their feet. Bow legs, pigeon toes, flat feet, and knock knees may sound cute, but depending on their severity, they can cause genuine discomfort for your baby. These conditions often resolve on their own as children grow, but if they are hindering your baby’s ability to walk, intervention may be necessary.

Just like adults, children can be affected by all the things that make walking uncomfortable for us. Babies can even experience pediatric osteoarthritis, which affects the joints in their legs, ankles, and feet.

Safety issues of walking on knees

Knee walking might indicate that other things are going on with your child’s development and motor skills. For instance, it’s commonly seen in children who also have cerebral palsy. Retained TLR is also linked to delayed development in older children, so even if you’re not worried about the knee walking itself, it could be a sign of more serious long-term problems.

Retained TLR can affect sequencing, which is crucial for both counting and reading. If you feel that your child is knee walking excessively or for too long, bring it up during your 12-month or 18-month well-child visit with your pediatrician. And if you have any concerns outside of the regular check-ups, don’t hesitate to schedule an extra appointment.

How To Stop Your Baby Knee Walking?

If your baby is knee walking instead of crawling, there are a few strategies you can try to encourage them to crawl on their hands and knees.

Physical therapy

Numerous providers offer physical therapy specifically designed to address retained TLR, depending on what your child needs. This therapy utilizes basic physical movements to retrain the body and establish the necessary connections between the brain and the body.

To avoid retained TLR, you can ensure that your baby gets enough tummy time every day and has sufficient opportunities for unrestricted movement without being confined in a sling, swaddle, or swing. It’s recommended for babies to have multiple tummy time sessions each day, starting from birth.

Addressing underlying orthopedics issues

If your child has an orthopedic problem that makes walking uncomfortable or painful for them, it’s important to address the issue to help them walk more comfortably. Bow legs, for instance, usually get better on their own, but they can also be caused by factors like being overweight, tumors, or even a lack of Vitamin D known as Ricketts Disease.

Praise your baby

Make sure to give your baby plenty of praise whenever they take steps towards learning to walk. When they start cruising, show them lots of smiles and celebrate their progress. And if they manage to stand up without any support, don’t forget to give them a little round of applause and let them know how proud and excited you are.

Your encouragement and praise will give them a confidence boost and make them want to practice even more to get more attention from you. Once they’re fully walking, you’ll notice that they won’t rely on crawling as much.

Let them explore

If you always have your baby in a stroller, car seat, or carrier, they won’t have a chance to practice walking. It’ll take them longer to get stronger if they don’t spend time on the floor, exploring movement. They’ve already mastered crawling on their knees, now it’s time to let them figure out how to stand and walk on their own. It’s great to keep your baby close for cuddles in a sling, but they also need time to move around on their own.

Allow your baby to use a push toy

Allow your baby to use a push toy

If you always have your baby in a stroller, car seat, or carrier, they won’t have a chance to practice walking. It’ll take them longer to get stronger if they don’t spend time on the floor, exploring movement. They’ve already mastered crawling on their knees, now it’s time to let them figure out how to stand and walk on their own. It’s great to keep your baby close for cuddles in a sling, but they also need time to move around on their own.

Allow your baby to use a push toy

Exercise and games

Just a shiny new toy might be enough to motivate your little one to ditch crawling and start walking. By using a push toy, your baby will be encouraged to walk on their feet instead of their knees because they’ll need to stand up to push it correctly. Not only will a push toy help your baby take those first steps, but it will also aid in developing their balance and strength.

Exercise and games

Put toys out of their reach

Some specific exercises and games can motivate your baby to step out of their habit of walking on their knees and begin standing up. One idea is to lay your baby on their back and move their legs in a cycling motion while singing nursery rhymes such as The Wheels On The Bus.

Another fun approach is to pretend to be frogs and encourage your baby to jump up from a crouching position, which will help them become more comfortable with standing up straight. Engaging in games that involve reaching up high or moving their legs around will also assist your baby in developing strength and balance in an enjoyable and relaxed manner.

Encourage normal walking

If you believe that there isn’t a more serious reason behind your child’s knee-walking, you can assist them in transitioning to the next stage. Walking is a significant developmental milestone, and there’s no need to hurry. Nonetheless, you can motivate your child to walk through various methods.

For example, you can bring them to different places for a change of environment, make your home safe from sharp corners to reduce their fear of getting hurt and participate in playful activities that require them to be on their feet. Check out How do I make a 3oz bottle of formula?

Don’t rush

When your baby is ready, they will start walking. Walking is a complex skill that requires your baby to focus on multiple things like staying balanced, lifting their legs, and moving their feet. It’s more challenging than it appears! Remember that not all babies reach this milestone at the same time, so there’s no need to worry if your baby takes a bit longer than others. However, if you have any concerns about your baby’s development, it’s always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician.

When to Expect Independent Walking?

The age at which babies start walking independently can vary greatly. While the average range is between 9 and 18 months, it is important to remember that every child develops at their own pace. Some babies may even take their first steps as early as 6 months, while others may not start walking until closer to their second birthday.

Several factors can influence when a baby begins to walk. These include their physical strength and coordination, as well as their motivation and confidence. Parents need to provide plenty of opportunities for their baby to practice standing and walking, such as using a push toy or holding onto furniture for support. However, it is also crucial to allow the baby to progress at their own pace and not rush them into walking before they are ready.

If you have concerns about your baby’s development or if they haven’t started walking by 18 months, it is always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. They can assess your child’s overall development and offer guidance on how to support them in reaching this milestone. Remember, every baby is unique and will reach milestones in their own time.

Safety Tips for Knee Walking Babies

When it comes to knee-walking babies, safety should always be a top priority. Here are a few tips to ensure their well-being:

  1. Create a safe environment: Baby-proofing your home is crucial to prevent any accidents. Remove any sharp objects or hazards that your little one might come across while exploring on their knees. Install safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases, and cover electrical outlets.
  2. Provide proper supervision: While knee walking can give babies more independence, it’s important to keep an eye on them at all times. Babies can quickly get into mischief or bump into furniture, so staying nearby will help you intervene if necessary.
  3. Support their knees: Knee pads or soft leggings can provide extra cushioning and protect your baby’s delicate knees from scrapes and bruises as they navigate their surroundings.

Remember, every baby develops at their own pace, so be patient and supportive during this exciting stage in their mobility journey!


When Do Babies Pull Up To Their Knees?

Babies typically start pulling up to their knees between 6 and 11 months of age. This milestone is an important step in their physical development as it signifies their increasing strength and coordination. Pulling up to their knees allows babies to explore their surroundings from a higher vantage point, giving them a new perspective on the world around them.

Is It Normal For a Baby To Crawl On The Knee?

Yes, it is normal for a baby to crawl on their knees. Crawling is an important developmental milestone that typically occurs between 6 and 10 months of age. While some babies may choose to crawl on their hands and feet, others may prefer crawling on their knees. This variation in crawling styles is perfectly normal and does not indicate any developmental issues.

Crawling on the knees can be advantageous for babies as it allows them to explore their environment more easily. It provides them with stability and support, allowing them to move around with greater control and balance.

As long as the baby is showing other signs of typical development, such as reaching other milestones like sitting up or pulling themselves up, there is no cause for concern if they prefer crawling on their knees rather than using their hands and feet.


If you notice your baby walking on knees, there is no need to panic. It is a common phase that many babies go through as they explore and develop their motor skills. It can be exciting to witness this unique way of movement and see your little one becoming more independent.

However, it is important to continue monitoring their development and consulting with a pediatrician if you have any concerns. Remember, every baby is different and will reach milestones at their own pace. So let’s embrace this journey of discovery and support our little ones in whatever way they choose to explore the world around them. Read Is It Safe To Drink Vitamin Water While Pregnant?

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