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Crawling is one of the most important developmental milestones for children in their first year of life, and the first step on the way to walking. Crawling not only allows a child to get about on its own but does so in a way that allows them to learn skills like balance and forward locomotion, as well as develop muscle strength.
When Do Babies Usually Start Crawling?
Most children start crawling somewhere between 7 and 10 months of age, though babies will commonly start around month 9 or 10. In recent years, many babies have been learning to crawl later or even skip the stage altogether on the way to walking. (This is very rare, however).
Signs That Your Child Is Ready To Crawl
There are many baby crawling stages. While each child’s experience is different, it is important that your child learns to crawl. Many children will learn in different ways such as ‘bottom shuffling’, rolling or pushing forward with their stomachs, but some will learn differently. Similarly, each child will be ready to crawl at different points, though there are some common signs.
These signs include:
- Being able to sit easily without support
- Being able to hold the head up and look around
- Noticeably stronger leg, arm and back muscles
- Being able to rock back and forth
As your baby begins to show these signs that they are ready, engage them in ways that allow them to develop these capacities even further, such as giving them floor time on their stomach, providing toys to play with, and ensuring safe spaces to practice crawling.
Types of Baby Crawling Styles
The most common types of crawling styles for babies are the “commando crawl” and the “bottom scoot”. The “commando crawl baby” usually happens when the child is on your stomach and involves wriggling forward, while the bottom scoot involves them moving forward using their bottoms.
Other styles of crawling include:
- The Roll – The baby will often roll back and forth until they get the hang of forward motion.
- Bear Crawl – From a downward pose, the baby will often put their legs behind them high in the air, and then move back and forth on their hands and feet.
- Crab crawl – The baby will, sometimes, use their arms to push themselves backwards instead of forwards.
- Leapfrog crawl – The baby will, sometimes, get on their hands and knees and use this pose to push themselves forward.
- Classic crawl – The baby will go on to their hands and knees and move forward by alternating their leg and arm.
- Tripod crawl – The baby will move with their hands and only one knee, allowing the other one to take a rest.
How Do Babies Learn to Crawl?
There are some exercises to help a baby crawl. To begin crawling, most children will start on their stomachs, which allows them to look around and develop muscle strength. Engaging the child with objects and obstacles will incentivize them to move forward, and eventually, they will be able to forward motion with their new muscle strength to begin crawling. If the child is not getting mobile in some other way, you should figure out how to help them move in a way that allows them to gain the necessary coordination to begin crawling and later walking. Note: Some prematurely born babies will begin to crawl or walk later than their peers.
Crawling is tough for children and involves cognitive, motor, and visual-spatial skills. To be able to crawl, children need to partake in activities that allow the muscles in their back, neck, shoulders, core and arms to develop. They must be able to support their weight and balance. Most children will also need to develop their” binocular vision”, which allows them to focus on targets that help them to move. Crawling can also help them to build their depth perception, though some depth perception will also allow them to begin to move. As crawling progresses, it can help babies develop skills in navigation and memorization.
What If Your Baby Isn’t Crawling?
You should not become too stressed if your child does not move as quickly as other children, or if some methods don’t work as well as others. Your child will crawl when it is ready and able to. Some parents will become nervous if the baby is not crawling at 10 months, but this is not necessarily a cause for concern as long as they are demonstrating other forms of motion.
If some form of motion has not developed by the year mark, it may be worth mentioning to your physician.
How to Help Your Baby Crawl?
While most children will learn to crawl on their own without much assistance, many children will need a little help and guidance from their parents.
Some tips for helping your child to develop their muscle strength and begin moving include:
- Stomach Time – Spending time on their stomachs helps children develop the strength to hold their bodies up and move.
- Forcing Them To Move Their Hands – Enabling them to lift their head is a good workout for the child which is also building their muscles at the same time.
- Moving Toys Around – Making playtime fun and entertaining your child with toys can help the baby to start crawling. Putting objects out of reach will help to move their bodies and develop muscle strength.
Some other tips for helping your baby to crawl relate mainly to the individual needs of the parent. Some parents like to use concrete methods like a tunnel or a game of peekaboo, while others use ways like imposing time limits on being sedentary. In general, it is a good idea during the early stages to involve your child in activities that will help them develop the skills that will lead them to be able to crawl.
Other Tips for Safe Infant Crawling
There are many recommendations across the board for what to do when your baby starts crawling. Most of these involve childproofing either your home or the area where your child will be crawling or learning to crawl.
Some tips for childproofing include:
- Put Up Stairway Gates – Use boxes to help them crawl them upstairs, but cover them in protective material until they are comfortable with moving on the stairs.
- Providing Safe Toys And Objects As Incentives To Move – Remove choking hazards, sharp objects and breakables that your child could get their hands on.
- Remove Obstructions – Common obstructions include dangling cords, exposed outlets, heavy furniture and electronics that are not secured.
Other tips for safe infant crawling include:
- Using the support of older siblings
- Not leaving the child alone or unsupervised
- Making sure the surfaces your child is crawling on are clean
- Promoting safe techniques for moving (Ex: no objects that could fall over, no early climbing)
What’s Next After Crawling?
After crawling, children (through practice) will slowly develop the skills which give them the mobility to walk. Once children start pulling themselves up on to furniture and using other objects to steady themselves, you will know that your child is getting ready to walk. Once they are able to gain sufficient balance to be able to stand on their own legs, children will be able to move while holding on to furniture or objects, and eventually without help whatsoever. From here, it is just a matter of being to learn the other necessary skills of movement, including, for instance, running, jumping and leaping.
Crawling is an important developmental milestone for your baby, and it can understandably be a source of great concern. Most babies will learn to crawl between 9 and 10 months of age, though children will learn at their own paces and will often crawl in different ways. There will be many signs that your baby is ready to crawl, and you should try to encourage them to do so in a safe way. Crawling, undoubtedly, is an important step on the way to walking.