Crawling is viewed as a key milestone in physical, mental, and emotional development, yet the American Academy of Pediatrics dispels that notion. Some babies skip crawling and go straight to walking.
If you’re watching and waiting for your baby to start crawling, the first thing to remember is that there is no perfect or precise age at which babies should start to crawl. As with all developmental milestones, it’s a process, one that contains a multitude of benchmarks and lots of nuance. The key thing to remember is that the evolution of a tiny human is also the emergence of an individual. So when do babies crawl? The simple answer is: When they’re ready.
At What Age Do Babies Crawl?
Babies typically start crawling between 7 and 10 months of age, though some opt to scoot around on their bottoms, roll from place to place, or even crab walk instead of starting to crawl from the get-go. Some toddlers skip learning to crawl altogether. As long as a child is making an effort to get from point A to point B by baby-crawling age, everything is just fine. Parents should focus on encouraging kids to move around, whether that means crawling or not.
“Just hanging out with them on the ground encourages them to crawl or scoot,” says Dr. Aishwarya Deenadayalu of Metropolitan Pediatrics in Portland, Oregon. “Give them the opportunity to try to get to stuff. You can entice them to get to the things they need to get to. It’s nothing fancy. Just having them on the ground is the most important thing.”
Signs Your Baby is Getting Ready to Crawl
When babies begin to steady themselves, it’s typically just a short while before they start crawling. Once they have a good view of the world around them, the draw to explore all that it contains is undeniable. Sitting up, rocking back and forth, pulling to a standing position, and trying different sitting or all-fours positions are all signs that mobility is right around the corner.
But remember, there’s no rush to crawl. As long as the kid’s making an effort and using all limbs, it’ll happen with time. A lot of the things that you’re already doing with your baby help them build the core strength and motivation to start crawling. Keep giving them lots of tummy time and interacting with them from a few feet away. Excited leg kicks will be a sign they want to move. It just takes time to get those limbs coordinated.
What If My Baby Isn’t Crawling Yet?
The good thing about crawling is that it’s a totally natural process for children, requiring little guidance. Kids are inclined to learn to move, so parents should simply spend time with them on the ground and encourage them to traverse a couple of feet in order to get an embrace or a reward. Extra incentives never hurt, though. Placing toys or other things across the room will encourage movement as well while putting items on low shelves will allow an infant to practice getting up.
Making sure kids are hitting a milestone at the “right” point on the developmental timeline is a huge worry for many parents, and that applies to crawling too. But Deenadayalu says parents shouldn’t really be worrying about movement issues so long as the child is trying, and using all his or her limbs in an effort to move.
“If they’re not trying to get anywhere, if they’re just sort of hanging out on the ground at 7 months, I’d want to hear about that,” says Deenadayalu. “When they try to crawl, if parents notice they’re not using one of their arms or legs and they can’t bear weight on it, that would be concerning. Not if there’s one that’s stronger than the other, but if there’s one that’s not working.”
And an inability to sit upright can also be a warning that something is amiss, though Deenadayalu cautions that lack of mobility can indicate everything from nervous system issues to delayed muscle development to a kid just being a little slower on the uptake. When it comes to concerns about crawling, as with anything else, parents should stay calm and speak to their doctors rather than consult the doom-and-gloom of worst-case websites.
What Crawling Styles Can I Expect From My Baby?
Crawling is a rather broad characterization, and not all babies crawl exactly the same. Sure, there’s the classic crawl where babies bear weight on their hands and knees, and then move one arm and the opposite knee forward at the same time. But some babies keep their elbows and knees straight and walk on their hands and feet. And others eschew any kind of torso lift and opt instead to stay low as they cover ground.
- Classic Crawl. Your basic hands and knees crawl, alternating opposite limbs as your baby moves about.
- Crab Crawl. Lateral or backward movement, with most of the movement energy coming from your baby's arms.
- Bear Crawl. Similar to the classic crawl, but with your baby on their hands and feet instead of their hands and knees.
- Commando Crawl or Belly Crawl. Propelled by forearms, with belly and legs flush to the ground.
- Bottom Scoot. From more of a sitting position, your baby uses their arms to move from place to place.
When looking at how your baby moves, focus on function over form. Whether they scoot, shuffle, crawl, or roll, the important thing is that they are exploring their world and learning how to coordinate their movements to achieve a goal. Granted, the goal may be to pop something in their mouth that is unsanitary or grab something delicate that they don’t have the proper skill to handle without breaking, so continuing to adjust what is within their grasp as mobility increases will be a constant challenge.
How Do I Baby Proof My House
Babyproofing is a bit of a misnomer because a curious child always finds something interesting to pursue. But it’s still important to make your home as safe as possible so that your baby’s early mobility is more inconvenient than unsafe. The obvious place to start is by making sure any choking hazards are out of reach, either by placing them up high or by securing any cabinets within which they are housed. If it all seems overwhelming, remember that keeping one or two rooms baby safe while relying on a baby gate to restrict access to stairs and other rooms is a great tactic for improving safety while lowering the effort needed to keep your baby safe.
One often overlooked aspect of babyproofing is protecting your crawler from things that can’t be moved. Sure, parents know to cover up electrical outlets, but applying the “if you can’t move it, cover it” mantra to furniture with sharp corners can dampen the blow of inevitable inevitable falls. And don’t feel like you have to figure it all out on your own. Ask other parents what their toddlers are always getting into for a clue as to safety issues you can preemptively address.
In the midst of all these preparations and considerations, don’t forget to have fun. Crawlers, cruisers, and toddlers are hilarious. And the look of pride they get when they figure out a new way to move is an infectious joy that you can never get enough of.
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