Parents get very excited about their baby reaching major milestones like baby crawling… and it’s no surprise they do. After all, baby milestones* indicate that your little one’s growth and development are right on track, and nothing gives parents more pride and happiness than seeing this.
Crawling is one such milestone many parents look forward to. It’s bittersweet because once your little one starts crawling, it’s the start of a brand new road to independence. It also means you’ll need to amp up babyproofing in your home!
If you think your little one is on the cusp of crawling and you want to arm yourself with every bit of information you can find on this important phase, then you’ve come to the right place.
*Keep in mind that every child is unique, and so is his development. Some children may hit certain developmental milestones earlier than the average age, and others later. Some milestones, like crawling, may even be skipped altogether. All this is perfectly normal.
Crawling gives your baby independence and prepares him for another important milestone: walking.
Baby Crawling: Why Is it So Important?
According to Dr Rallie McAllister, co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year and other experts, baby crawling is important for several reasons:
- It contributes to a baby’s holistic development, requiring both mind and body coordination.
- Crawling helps strengthen the baby’s muscles, especially those in his back, neck, shoulders, arms and core. These muscles need to be strong enough in the first place for the baby to crawl.
- It assists with your little one’s eyesight, particularly binocular vision. This is because when baby crawls, he needs to use both eyes a the same time to focus on his ‘target’ destination.
- The Baby’s navigation skills and memory are improved via crawling. Dr McAllister explains, “For instance, they’ll learn that they have to go around the coffee table and beyond the recliner to get to the basket of toys.”
- When your little one crawls, he “is using the limbs on either side of the body to develop bilateral coordination”, which helps prepare him for walking more efficiently.
- Crawling helps your baby develop his sense of independence and decision-making skills as he figures out where to go and how to get there.
You’ll see signs of crawling readiness in your baby, such as getting onto his hands and knees and rocking backwards and forwards.
When and How Do Babies Usually Start Crawling
First, remember that not all babies crawl. They may bypass this phase and go straight to pulling up, cruising and walking.
However, babies generally start to crawl between 6 and 10 months. Look for signs of crawling readiness in your baby, such as:
- Sitting well without support (at around 8 months old)
- Lifting himself on his arms, almost like he’s doing mini pushups.
- Balancing on both arms and knees.
- Rocking forwards and backwards on his arms and knees
Soon after you observe these signs, your little one will likely launch on his first baby crawling expedition! He’ll probably get started by moving to all fours from a sitting position. Once he has mastered the art of rocking back and forth on his arms and knees, he will figure out how to push forward on his knees to get mobile.
A seasoned crawler will be proficient in an advanced technique known as “cross-crawling”, where he moves forward by coordinating an arm and leg on the opposite sides of his body, rather than from the same side. This can be expected when your little angel is around 12 months old.
Remember that not all babies get about on their knees and arms. Some shuffle about on their bottoms, creep on their tummies and even roll about to get to their destination.
In the end, you shouldn’t be concerned about your little one’s style of locomotion. The main thing is that he is moving independently. However, he chooses to do it. And as long as you see that he is learning to coordinate and use his arms and leg equally on both sides of the body, you probably don’t need to worry.
Signs Baby Is Ready to Crawl
It’s exciting to watch your baby take his first steps. But before he can walk, he needs to crawl. Here are some signs that your baby is ready to crawl:
- Your baby is able-bodied enough to sit alone, with no help.
- He has control over his head, neck and trunk—he can hold his head up while sitting or lying down and push himself back into a sitting position when he falls over.
- Your baby can independently hold objects such as toys in each hand and move them around, rather than just holding them loosely.
Should Baby Crawl or Sit First
There’s often a lot of debate when it comes to crawling or sitting. Some people think babies should crawl first, and others think they should sit rather!
Crawling is a great way for your baby to learn how to control their movements. They can practice balance and coordination by moving forward and backward and side-to-side.
But while this might sound like a good thing, there are some potential downsides: crawling may be unsafe if your baby crawls over dangerous objects in the house (or outside). It can also be difficult to learn how to crawl when they’re older if they haven’t already mastered these skills during early development.
Sitting on their own is also beneficial for your baby because it allows them to gain more independence from their caregivers—they can explore their surroundings without having someone else holding them up all the time!
If you have stairs in your home, sitting down on them might be more dangerous than crawling across them (since falling down stairs could cause serious injuries).
Baby Starts Crawling at What Age
It depends on the baby. Some babies are ready to crawl when they’re six months old, while others aren’t ready until they’re nine months old.
If your baby seems ready to start crawling, you’ll see them scoot around on their belly, moving forward by pushing with their arms and legs. They might also start trying to pull themselves up on things or move from their belly to their hands and knees.
Baby’s Stages of Crawling
Baby crawling is a milestone that every baby eventually reaches—and it’s a big one! But how does your baby move from rolling over to crawling? Here’s what you need to know about the stages of crawling.
1: Baby rolls over and begins scooting around on her belly.
2: She can pull herself up to sit and move across the floor using her arms and hands.
3: Your baby can get up on all fours but doesn’t use her legs yet.
4: She begins using her legs while crawling.
Baby Uses One Leg to Crawl
It’s normal for babies to use one leg or arm to crawl.
This helps them learn how to balance on their knees and elbows.
It also helps them learn which side of their body is stronger, because they’re always using it counterintuitively.
This isn’t something that should worry you, but if your baby is having trouble crawling or their mobility is limited, you should talk to your paediatrician about it!
Image source: iStock
How to Encourage Baby to Crawl
Baby crawling is an important milestone in a baby’s development. It’s also a milestone that can feel like it takes forever to reach, particularly when your baby doesn’t seem to be making any progress on their own. Don’t worry! There are some things you can do to help encourage your baby to crawl.
- Make sure your home is babyproofed so that there are no hazards for them to get hurt.
- Try putting something interesting in front of the baby’s face and moving it slowly away from them. This will encourage them to follow it with their eyes, which may help them figure out how to move their body forward.
- Move toys around, so they are just out of reach for the baby, but not out of sight entirely (you want them to see where they’re going!). This should encourage them to crawl after these toys and try reaching for them with their hands or feet!
Baby Scooting Instead of Crawling
Did you know that babies can learn to scoot instead of crawl? It’s true!
Well, there are a few reasons why babies might not want to crawl. For one thing, the muscles in their legs are getting stronger every day, and with time will be better able to support them as they move around on the floor.
They may also have trouble keeping track of where their arms are in relation to their bodies when they’re moving around on their bellies—but this can be fixed by having your baby practice using their hands while scooting around.
For another thing, when babies learn how to use their hands while scooting instead of crawling, it helps them develop important motor skills in both areas at once. So if your baby seems like she’s avoiding crawling because she doesn’t want to use her hands at all?
Don’t worry! Just give her some time and keep encouraging her with toys and activities that help her develop these skills so she’ll be ready for when she starts walking!
Tummy Time and Crawling
As parents, you probably know the importance of tummy time for a baby’s physical development. Providing your baby with adequate tummy time is especially important when helping him prepare for crawling.
Tummy time encourages your little one to raise his head, which helps develop and strengthen his neck, arms, torso and shoulders. His legs and hips are also supported when he kicks out his little legs while on his tummy.
With all this muscle development that happens with tummy time, your baby should find graduating to crawling a breeze.
While your little one is on his tummy, you can encourage him to move forward by placing a toy in front of him, just beyond his reach. Soon, he’ll learn to creep along on his tummy to get to the toy, and before you know it, he’ll be baby crawling at top speed!
Lots of supervised tummy time can help prepare your baby for crawling.
Crawling and Your Baby’s Safety
“Babyproofing” (and “mischief!”) takes on a whole new level of meaning when your little one starts crawling.
It’s important to childproof your house thoroughly before the baby gets mobile. Remember, even previously unreachable spots — such as counters and tables — will soon be accessible once your little one starts pulling up and cruising.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Do not keep hot food and drink at the edge of tables and/or counters.
- When cooking, ensure the pot handles are turned towards the back of the stove and remind your helper to do this too.
- Fasten the oven door with a childproof latch.
- Keep all toiletries out of reach of your baby. Consider storing them in a wall cupboard that your baby cannot reach.
- Do not buy or use clothes for your baby with drawstrings or ribbons that could come loose. These pose a strangulation risk, especially once your baby is crawling around.
- Remove all hanging toys and mobiles above your baby’s cot once you see he can get on his hands and knees. This is to prevent him from trying to grab them and falling over the side of the cot.
- Use outlet covers on all plug-points that are low to the ground and on those your baby could reach once he starts cruising or standing up.
- Block the entrance to your balcony if you live in a high-rise apartment. Get safety grilles for your windows.
- Ensure that blind cords are not hanging down to the ground. These are major strangulation hazards to on-the-go and curious babies.
- Block access to all unsafe areas (especially stairs and the kitchen) with good safety gates. Secure dustbins or place them when the baby cannot reach them.
- Don’t use tablecloths, especially while the baby is learning to stand. He could pull it down, including whatever is on it.
- Secure all furniture your baby might hang on to stand (e.g. bookshelves), to the wall. The same goes for TVs.
- Fix corner guards on all sharp furniture corners, especially low-to-the-ground coffee tables.
- Get rid of all toxic houseplants.
A good way to check if your babyproofing is thorough is to go down on your hands and knees to the baby’s eye level and check for any spots you might have missed.
Where Should Your Baby Crawl
You can try as hard as you like to confine your baby to a carpet or blanket once he starts crawling. It may work at the beginning but once he gets a taste of the new-found freedom that comes with mobility, there’s no stopping him from going places!
In other words, let your little one crawl where ever he wants to in the house, of course, keeping safety in mind.
If you are concerned that the tender skin on his knees might roughen and darken by rubbing so frequently on the floor, you could always dress your baby in thin cotton pants or tights to protect them. You can also purchase specially designed knee pads for crawling babies.
When to Worry if Baby Doesn’t Crawl
As pointed out, some babies bypass crawling completely and move straight to cruising and walking. Other babies may start crawling later, especially if they were born prematurely.
You will only need to worry if, by the age of one, your little one is not showing any interest in getting mobile in any way other than crawling, whether this is creeping, rolling or scooting around on his bottom.
Speak to your baby’s doctor, too, if you notice that your little one cannot move his arms and legs in a coordinated way and if he cannot seem to support his body weight or have enough energy to get around.
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