When Your Baby Learns To Crawl
Along with the countless other milestones that your little one will reach, there’s one that puts your baby on the move for the first time - crawling. Children are on a quest to explore their surroundings and crawling around is what fulfills that quest.
Most babies begin crawling when they are 6-9 months old. By this time, their muscles become strong enough to support their body, and they will be able to sit up on their own. From sitting, your baby will be able to pivot, and rock over to their hands and knees. The strength required to crawl can be traced all the way back to the newborn days when you would have placed your child on their tummy. That slowly starts to strengthen their neck, arms and shoulders, as they pushed up for a better view.
The transition from sitting to crawling may occur gradually over several months. Some of the steps in between include learning to balance on all fours, rocking back and forth on the hands and knees and eventually figuring out that pushing off with the knees will give them the forward motion they need to begin to crawl.
Some factors to keep in mind:
Choice of direction
Not every baby crawls in the same manner. The typical way is to crawl forward, but some kids have their own methods. Crawling backwards is probably the result of an uneven muscle tone (arms are a little stronger than legs), but that will soon be corrected as your child develops better motor skills. They will soon shift from reverse to forward on their own with no intervention from you.
It can't hurt to give your baby some incentives to crawl. Making things too easy on them (always handing them toys they want, etc.) just encourages them to stay seated. Instead, find ways to encourage them to become active. Try placing age-appropriate toys slightly beyond your baby's reach when they are in a sitting position. This will entice them to come forward and reach for the object.
Take it easy
Don't worry too much about pushing your baby to move or crawl. Every baby is different and unless there are specific developmental problems that your doctor has identified, there is absolutely nothing to worry about a baby who starts crawling later.
Crawling isn't even listed as a major milestone in baby development. Some babies skip crawling and dive right into walking. Our in-house experts agree that crawling is not a necessary step in development, as long as the baby has some other way of locomotion.
Having said that, here are some things to be vigilant about:
- If at 10 months, your child has not found a way to get around, please consult a pediatrician. Exploring the environment is very important, be it by cruising around holding onto furniture, rolling, scooting, or any other way.
- Clearly favoring one side of their body
- They are unable to coordinate their body in a way that allows both sides to work together.
Be prepared! Once babies are on the move, there's no stopping them. Here are some suggestions to keep things safe for your newly-crawling tot:
- Get on the floor and look at things from your baby's perspective.
- Remove any small objects from the floor (dropped coins under furniture, etc.)
- Remove anything your baby might be able to pull, like phone cords, electrical cords or drape pulls.
- Safety-proof the entire house (cabinets, wall outlets, toilets).
- If you have stairs in your house, use gates in front of them at the top and at the bottom.
Now that your baby is mobile, they may (and probably will at some point) end up where you don't want them to be. Be safe and baby-proof everything. And of course, never leave your baby unattended. Happy crawling!