Crawling is one of the first major milestones your baby will reach. Right now, the only way she can get around is you – and her loved ones. But soon, your little one will learn to crawl, giving her more independence and a way to reach her destination without any help from mom and dad.
Crawling gives your baby a sense of accomplishment and power, boosting her self-esteem. It also lets her better explore the world around her and paves the way for more complex movements, like standing, walking and running.
Table of Contents
- How Does Crawling Help Your Baby Develop?
- When Do Babies Crawl?
- 4 Tips to Get Your Baby Crawling
- Crawling Styles and Milestones
- Keeping Baby Safe
- When to Worry – Mobility Problem Signs
- She’s Crawling – What Now?
How Does Crawling Help Your Baby Develop?
Crawling is a pretty tough job, and it will require your baby to develop some strength before she can really take off. While she’s learning to crawl, she’s strengthening her back, shoulders, neck, core and arms. All of these muscles need to be strong enough to support her weight and maintain her balance.
Aside from physical strength, babies also improve their depth perception and cognitive skills. When babies are crawling, they use binocular vision, which means they’re using both eyes at the same time to zero in on a target. Your baby will also switch between looking off into the distance and at her hands. This helps her develop depth perception.
Crawling also gives your baby a mental workout. Babies who are crawling develop their memory and navigational skills. For example, your baby will learn that she needs to crawl around the chair to get to her favorite toys.
When Do Babies Crawl?
Typically, babies start crawling between the ages of 6 and 10 months, but naturally, some start earlier or later. Either is fine. Some babies skip the crawling phase altogether and go straight to standing or walking.
4 Tips to Get Your Baby Crawling
Your baby will learn to crawl when she’s ready, but there are things you can do to encourage her to get moving.
1. Get in Lots of Tummy Time
One of the best ways to encourage your baby to start crawling is to give her plenty of supervised tummy time. Experts recommend starting tummy time at three months, and to make sure that you’re giving her time on the floor every day.
Tummy time gives your baby a chance to develop all of the muscles needed for crawling and eventually walking. When she’s on her belly, she can lift her head to look around, which helps strengthen her neck muscles. She can move her arms and legs, too, which works her leg, arm and hip muscles.
2. Make Tummy Time a Fun Time
Some babies aren’t fond of tummy time. Try making the experience fun and exciting if she’s reluctant. Put her favorite toy just within arm’s reach on the floor. You may also try laying her on your tummy instead of the floor. This way, she’ll get to work her muscles, but can still see you and feel safe.
3. Try Moving Toys
Moving toys are a great way to encourage your little one to crawl. Cars, trains and other similar toys will get your baby moving if they’re just out of her reach while she’s playing with them. Be sure to give her lots of encouragement and praise when she starts cruising.
4. Make it More Comfortable
Tummy time should be broken down into several five to ten minute sessions each day. Some babies love being on the floor, but others find the position to be uncomfortable or have a more difficult time developing their muscles.
If your baby is uncomfortable, tuck a rolled blanket under her chest. Laying her on your tummy or chest while you lie on the floor may also be a more comfortable position for her at first.
Crawling Styles and Milestones
Babies typically try out a number of different crawling techniques before they finally find one that they like. While many babies will have their own unique methods, some of the most common crawling techniques include:
- The Swim: Rather than bending her knees and elbows, she keeps her arms and legs straight, swimming across the floor.
- The Creep: She keeps her bottom in the air and her forearms on the floor, creeping along on her belly.
- The Scoot: She sits on her bottom and propels herself forward using her legs and arms.
- The Hop: She hops while on all fours.
- The Crab: With one knee tucked in and the other extended, she moves backward and sideways.
Most babies will give all of these crawling techniques a try before settling into the classic crawl. You can also encourage your little one to get there just a little bit faster by showing her how crawling is done.
Keeping Baby Safe
You’ve already childproofed the house, so you’re ready for her to start crawling – right? Not necessarily. Now that your baby is mobile, she’s going to want to explore everything. That means having to go back and ensure that your home is properly childproofed.
Here are some tips to keep your baby safe while crawling:
- Always supervise crawling sessions.
- Get down on all fours to look for possible hazards.
- Gate off stairs at the top and bottom.
- If she climbs somewhere she shouldn’t be (like a table), remove her and remind her not to climb on furniture.
Supervision is the key to safe crawling, and now is a good time to start disciplining your little one to make sure she doesn’t get into things that are dangerous. Smile and cheer your baby on when she cruises across the floor, but do let him know that getting too close to an electrical outlet isn’t a good idea.
Your enthusiasm will keep him moving and trying new things, and letting him know the boundaries will keep him safe.
When to Worry – Mobility Problem Signs
Crawling isn’t generally considered a developmental milestone, so if your baby doesn’t start crawling until later than 10 months, that’s perfectly fine. But if your little one is still not mobile by her first birthday and she’s having other mobility problems, it’s time to see a pediatrician.
Here are a few red flags to watch out for:
- At 3 Months: Your baby can’t support her head, has difficulty moving her eyes in different directions, and/or does not turn her head when you speak.
- At 7 Months: Baby’s muscles are limp or very tight, she can’t roll over on her own, and/or she can’t sit up without your help.
- At 12 Months: She can’t stand even when she’s supported, she doesn’t try to crawl or walk, and/or her body drags on one side.
It’s important to keep in mind that premature babies tend to reach milestones, like crawling and walking, later than average.
She’s Crawling – What Now?
Now that your baby is mobile and can get around on her own, it won’t be long before she starts walking. She’ll begin trying to pull herself up onto everything she can. Once she has balance, she’ll be standing and then taking her first steps. Before you know it, she’ll be running and jumping like a pro.
Enjoy these milestones, and be sure to keep a close eye on her to keep her safe. If she’s having difficulty reaching mobility milestones, do not hesitate to see your pediatrician or a specialist. An underlying medical condition may be to blame.