Whether you’re toting your baby in a carrier, holding him as he straddles your hip, or pushing him around in a stroller, his only means of moving around so far has been you and others. Soon though, he’ll pick up the skill of crawling and will be able to move from one point to another on his own. Crawling is a significant step for babies because it’s usually the first step toward independent mobility. Read on to find out all you need to know about this milestone.
At what age will my baby start to crawl?
Most babies start crawling anywhere between the age of seven and ten months, but some may start a little earlier or later than this. Some babies even skip the crawling phase altogether and go straight from sitting up to standing to walking.
Crawling is not as easy as it may seem. Your baby needs to use both his mind and body to crawl, as well as coordinate gross motor, cognitive, and visual-spatial skills.
To begin with, the muscles in your little one's neck, shoulders, arms, back, and core must be strong enough to adequately support his weight and help him maintain steadiness. Additionally, your child must also use her eyes to focus on a target to move towards it. They also use their mental muscles to help them with navigation.
What are different styles of crawling?
There are many different ways for a baby to learn to crawl. Your little nugget may start with one style and then pick up another, or stick to his favorite until she learns to walk. Here are some of the most common crawling styles you might come across:
1. The classic crawl
This may be the first style that comes to mind when you think of crawling. It involves your baby using his knees and hands to propel himself across the floor. One arm and the opposite knee move forward at the same time.
2. The commando crawl
This is sometimes referred to as the belly crawl. As your baby's core muscles are not yet strong enough to allow him to lift himself, he moves forward by lying flat on his tummy and pushing himself with his arms.
3. The crab crawl
Your baby might also crawl by pushing with his arms, which ends up him sliding backward instead of forward. He can also move sideways with this style of crawling.
4. The bear crawl
This style is similar to the classic crawl, but the difference is the baby’s arms and legs are extended. The knees don’t touch the ground at all.
5. The roll
The roll involves your little one rolling around with his entire body, instead of using his hands and legs.
6. The bottom scooter
Your baby sits upright and shuffles around on his bottom. He uses his arms to push himself forward.
7. The leapfrog
With this crawl, the baby gets into a position that is similar to the bear crawl, then lifts his upper body and uses his legs to propel himself forward.
How can you help your baby learn to crawl?
Your baby will only start crawling when he is ready, but there’s a couple of ways you can help him discover crawling.
1. Tummy time
As previously mentioned, your baby will need to build up the strength and coordination the skill of crawling takes. One of the most effective ways to help him do this is by getting him to feel comfortable on his tummy.
As you may have guessed from the name, tummy time involves letting your baby lie on his tummy for some time. This is an activity you can start right after birth. Start practicing tummy time a few minutes a day at first, then build up the activity gradually as your baby’s neck and back muscles become stronger. You should never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time.
2. Belly bait
You can also try introducing games to encourage crawling; belly bait involves placing tantalizing toys just out of reach during tummy time, or near where your little one is sitting. This will motivate him to try out new ways of moving her arms and legs.
3. Prop your baby up to sit
Sitting assisted to begin with, and then unassisted when he’s ready, can also help babies develop strong back and abdominal muscles for crawling. From a sitting position, he might try rocking back and forth and gradually figure out how to move along.
How to keep your crawling baby safe
Once your baby masters crawling, you might be surprised at how fast she moves. Here is how you can keep him safe:
1. Keep his knees protected
2. Remove obstacles
Anticipate sudden accelerations from your crawling baby and get rid of breakables and potential hazards in his path. You must also keep a close eye on him at all times.
3. Consider childproofing
Make sure your home is childproofed for a crawling baby. To get started, you might want to get down on all fours and look for trouble areas at her level. Here are some tips on childproofing:
- Cover sharp corners using pads and guards
- Install quality baby gates to keep your baby away from potentially dangerous areas of your home.
- Install locks on cabinets that may contain hazardous materials.
- Keep plugs and cords out of your child's reach.
What if my baby doesn’t start crawl as expected?
Keep in mind that every baby is unique, so if your little one is a late crawler (or doesn't' pick up the skill at all), it shouldn't be a cause for concern. However, if he's also yet to reach other milestones, such as social interactions, language, and other motor skills, inform your doctor.
Getting around all on his own gives your little one a great sense of accomplishment, which is a huge boost to his confidence and self-esteem. Crawling also opens up your baby’s world to new adventures and leads the way to the development of more complex movements, such as pulling up on objects to stand, walking, dancing, and running.