Some parents who are wondering “when do babies start crawling?” might be asking the question because they’re concerned that their baby isn’t crawling yet. But while it’s common for babies to start crawling between 7-10 months of age, some opt to scoot around on their bottoms, roll from place to place, or even crab walk. Some skip crawling altogether. But as long as a child’s making an effort to get from point A to point B by around 10 months, everything is normal, and encouraging kids to move around can be pretty fun for parents, too.
“Just hanging out with them on the ground (encourages them to crawl or scoot),” says Dr. Aishwarya Deenadayalu of Portland, Oregon’s Metropolitan Pediatrics. “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.”
How to Get a Baby Crawling
- Give baby lots of tummy time
- Once a baby is on all fours, anchor your hands behind his or her feet and encourage rocking back and forth (basically using your hands as running blocks) to demonstrate forward momentum
- Sit a few feet away and excitedly goad baby to come to you
- Place toys or other desirable items on the other side of the room and encourage baby to move to them
- Place toys or other fun things on a short ledge, encouraging baby to crawl to it and pull his or herself up
- Relax: 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 child will naturally be inclined to learn to move, so parents hoping to kickstart the process can simply hang on the ground with a baby and encourage them to traverse a couple feet in order to get an embrace or a reward. 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.
“They don’t need fancy toys or mats or walkers,” says Deenadayalu. “In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics is getting more strict in saying walkers can be more dangerous. So just give them time on the ground.”
Many parents are naturally inclined to think that something can be amiss if a kid isn’t hitting a milestone by an expected time, and that applies to crawling as well. 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 what such lack of mobility signals is a rabbit hole of symptoms that can range from nervous system issues to delayed muscle development to a kid just being a little slow on the uptake. That’s why parents are encouraged to speak to their doctors rather than consult the doom-and-gloom of worst-case websites.
“If they’re not sitting up on their own by 9 months, that’s the big red flag. It’s clinically the most important thing,” she says. “But as long as they’re using both arms and legs, that’s reassuring. Most of the time it works out on its own, and it’s pretty cool to watch.”