Your baby’s first year is filled with a number of exciting milestones and one of them is when your baby first begins to crawl. As a parent, we’re sure you’re eager for your baby to start exploring the world around them. (Although we think you might feel differently when your little one starts moving around at full speed, reaching for and grabbing everything in sight). However, the truth is that every baby’s developmental milestones take place at different times and in different ways. So, what can you expect at this stage? When will your baby start crawling? How can you encourage your baby to crawl? We’re answering all your crawling-related questions below. Read on.
When do babies start crawling?
Although there is no definite age marker, most babies start crawling anytime between 6 to 10 months of age. However, it’s important to remember that every baby’s developmental process is different and should not be compared to that of another child. So, whether your baby begins crawling early on or starts crawling closer to their one-year birthday, it is absolutely okay. Crawling is a natural progression in your child’s development process and is not something that you can make them learn. But, there are some ways in which you can help your baby to startcrawling and move about. We’re going to discuss some of these methods below.
First,here are some things you should know about infant crawling:
- Crawling is not as easy as you think. It is quite a major milestone for your child as it requires a certain amount of muscle strength and arm-leg coordination, things that your baby will acquire over time.
- Before your baby begins to crawl, they will first learn to roll over from their back on to their stomach on their own. Some babies can begin crawling soon after this stage while some may still take a long time to begin crawling after learning to roll over.
- Some babies skip the crawling stage altogether and godirectly to the walking stage.
- Before your baby actually begins to move about, she will probably first get on all fours in the crawling position and learn to maintain her balance. This will involve a lot of back and forth rocking and your baby might even start moving backward in an attempt to move. This is a sign that she is ready to begin the process of crawling. Actual forward movement might still take some time and can differ from one baby to another.
- You might think that there’s only one method of crawling but that’s not entirely true. Some babies find different ways to move from one spot to another. Your little one might move by adopting a sitting position and dragging herself around with the use of her arms. Or she might lie flat on her belly and use her arms to move forward – often called the baby belly crawl. Some even try moving ahead with one leg bent and one straight. Whatever the method might be, it’s important to encourage your baby’s movement and to help them find their rhythm.
- As mentioned, your baby might use different methods to get around, but there are certain signs you should look out for. If you notice that your baby is only using one side of her body to move while the other side is limp, or if you notice a complete lack of ability in movement, speak to your pediatrician. It may not be an issue of concern, but it is always safer to check anyway.
Although you should never push your baby to crawl before she is ready to, you can gently encourage your baby to crawl by using some of the methods below.
1. Give baby lots of tummy time
Giving your baby an adequate amount of supervised tummy time daily can help greatly in strengthening their neck, shoulder and arm muscles, which will eventually help them start crawling. Some experts suggest that you can start with a few minutes of tummy time right from the start whereas others say that the three-month mark is a good time to begin. Start off with shorter bursts of tummy time. At three months of age, you can give her 15-30 minutes of supervised tummy time daily. In the beginning, your baby might cry a little or resist it so it’s better to get them accustomed to it in small doses. Always lay your baby on a flat, comfortable and clean surface while doing this. Engage with your baby while she is on her tummy to try and get her to lift her head slowly. In addition to this, you can also encourage your baby to play on all sides – front, back, left and right.
2. Give them some incentive (AKA toys)
Like most of us, babies need incentive to do certain tasks as well. During tummy time, place your baby’s favourite toy within your baby’s eyesight, but out of reach. Wiggle the toy with your hands and turn it into a fun game for your little one. You will soon see them try to move towards the toy. Keep bringing the toy closer and then farther away to encourage your baby. Use toys that are really engaging – those with wheels also work really well.
3. Make sure your baby is dressed comfortably
Dress your baby comfortably during playtime to encourage exploration. Soft and stretchy tights will help keep your baby cozy and help reduce floor friction as she begins to move about. Softsens Baby Textured Knit pants are ultra-soft, comfortable and made from 100% organic cotton. These cute pants come with an adjustable waistband and snug cuffs, making them perfect for both playtime and naptime. You can get them here! If your baby is comfortable in something a bit lighter, a baby bodysuit or onesie is ideal for playtime.Softsens Baby Bodysuits are ultra-soft and stretchy, short-sleeved, with a round, stretchable neckline and an easy opening for diaper changes. Get them here!
4. Create a safe and secure crawling area
When your little one begins crawling, the world (we mean your home) is her oyster. You’ve probably been warned but we’ll say it again – a crawling baby can move at lightning-fast speed and reach for everything in sight. So, make sure you baby-proof your home properly to avoid any kind of accidents. We can’t stress this step enough. Put away items that they could possibly choke on or ingest, make sure the ground is clean, if you have a staircase put baby gates both at the top and bottom. To help you get started, here are a few things you can secure or keep out of baby’s reach:
- Kitchen/bathroom supplies
- Tables/chairs that have sharp edges
- Electrical appliances/outlets/cords
- Furniture that is light enough to tip over
- Any curios or things made of glass
- Put safety latches on drawers/cabinets/toilet seats and anything within baby’s reach
5. Place your palms below baby’s feet
When your baby starts getting up on all fours, place your palms below her feet to give her added support and balance.
6. Avoid too much time in baby seats/carriers/bouncers/walkers
While you might need one or more of these items regularly, make sure your baby doesn’t spend too much time sitting in them. These are supportive devices and inhibit your baby’s muscle movement. Your baby needs to be able to move around and play freely to be able to learn to start crawling.
7. Be your baby’s biggest cheerleader
Your baby will crawl when she’s ready and not a minute before that. Cheer your baby on, engage with her and be enthusiastic when she shows signs that she’s ready to crawl, but DO NOT be pushy. Every baby is different and comparing one to another is never helpful.
8. Have some fun in front of the mirror
Fun fact: most babies are fascinated by their own reflection. So, when you put your baby in front of a mirror, it might encourage her to move about or actually pull herself up. Exercise safety and caution while trying this with your baby.
9. Get down and crawl with your little one
Show your baby exactly how it’s done by getting down to their level and crawling around. They might try to mimic your movement and crawl. If not, it’ll still be a fun game to play with your baby.
10. Get them off the ground by putting something soft yet firm below their tummies
Put a soft folded blanket or pillow below your baby’s tummy to get her off the ground and to help her start using her arms and legs a bit. This might get her to assume the correct position and start crawling.
It’s important to remember - all of these are just tips to help encourage your baby to crawl but each baby will take her own time. A lot of parents ask – “What should I do if my baby is not crawling at 10 months?” If your baby is a late crawler, it is NOT a reason to worry. Let them learn at their own pace. If you are still concerned about their mobility, you can consult your pediatrician. They will eventually begin to crawl OR they might even go straight to walking. Just make sure you keep your cameras ready for this important moment and don’t forget to smother them with lots of kisses afterwards.