Balance Problems in Walking Babies

Mother and father teaching baby to walk
Two young parents helping their toddler learn how to walk. (Image: Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Babies are normally unbalanced on their feet when learning to walk. However, if your baby seems to never gain balance, it could be caused by health factors. Consult your pediatrician if you feel that your baby is having excessive balancing problems for long periods of time when trying to walk.

Learning Balance

When babies are born, their legs are not strong enough to hold their weight. Babies have a reflex that enables them to push against a hard surface when being held up. As your baby grows, so will his ability to sustain more weight on his legs. At about 5 months, your baby will begin to bounce on his legs while you hold him up. He will begin pulling himself up while holding on to nearby sturdy objects such as furniture. Babies will learn how to stand without support at around 8 months and then start attempting to take steps. By the age of 12 to 14 months, most toddlers are walking on their own.

The Imbalance Culprits

Some causes of balance disorder can be associated with infections in the ear, blood circulation disorders affecting the brain or inner ear or head injury. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, conditions with the skeletal, visual, nervous and circulatory systems may be the cause of posture and balance problems. In addition, these problems can begin suddenly with no evident cause.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of balance disorder in babies can include dizziness, feelings of unsteadiness and lightheadedness. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, balance problems may lead to the onset of other conditions such as fear, anxiety, panic, depression and heart rate or blood pressure abnormalities.

Assessment

Assessing balance disorders is difficult in babies because they cannot express how they are feeling. If you feel that your baby is suffering from balance problems, consult your pediatrician. At that time, your pediatrician will conduct a physical examination and audiological exam to determine the cause of the balance problems.

Treatment

Some balance issues in babies are known to go away on their own without medical treatment. More severe cases may require vestibular rehabilitation to increase balance function. If the balance problems are caused by ear infection, medication may be prescribed to treat the infection.

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