There are so many milestones your child will reach in the first few years of their life. Each of them makes them a little bit more dependent, and solidifies the fact that they are their own little person. One of those early milestones is when they begin to crawl. Suddenly, they’re free to explore their world on their own — at least some extent. Many parents wait with bated breath for these milestones, and if your baby hasn’t already begun to crawl, you might be wondering when to expect it.
You can expect most babies to start crawling between the ages of seven and ten months of age. As I write this I laugh to myself, because I must’ve been a terrifying child. As said before in another article, I was quite a picky eater, and right now I’m remembering my mother telling me that I didn’t crawl until very late — that I preferred to scoot around on the floor on my butt, always going backwards. Anyway, I digress. Clearly some toddlers start crawling later than others, while others will start earlier. Some skip this stage altogether, moving straight to pulling themselves up and then trying to walk. And yes, it’s quite normal for someone to get around like I did, or to roll or slither around on the floor. Before babies actually crawl, some of them pick it up quickly, while others take a little bit longer to perfect the process. Either way, you should expect your baby to have mastered crawling by the time they reach their first birthday.
How Do Babies Learn To Crawl?
I don’t know that we can specifically say this is a learned process, it might just be instinctive. A lot of things are going on — they’ve developed enough strength in their muscles, they’ve learned to be coordinated, and they have a strong desire to explore their environment. When you put all that altogether, they have the determination and the ability to succeed.
By now, they will have mastered the art of being able to sit upright without your help. And they’ve figured out that they can maintain their position when on all fours, sometimes just rocking back and forth. From there, locomotion is bound to happen. One day they’ll be rocking back and forth, then they’ll push off from their knees, and off they go. They won’t be particularly graceful for a while, but they’ll eventually develop a rhythm and learn how to control their limbs. But within a few weeks, they should develop their own style.
Can You Help Your Baby Learn to Crawl?
It’s understandable that some parents might be anxious for their child to start crawling. But they can’t start until they’ve developed the strength that will allow them to do so. We know that for more than a decade now, the recommendation is to put babies to sleep on their backs, in hopes of reducing fatalities from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Experts believe that due to this, it takes some children longer to develop the physical strength necessary to crawl, since they are spending less time on their stomachs. They develop this strength by pushing themselves up and holding their body weight.
All is not lost though. If you’re a parent who feels that your child is a little slow in their development — at least as far as strengthening their muscles go — there are some things that you can do.
If your baby hasn’t started crawling yet, it’s important that they get enough tummy time. Spending this time on their stomachs helps them to develop the strength necessary to move themselves and hold themselves up. Every time they lift their heads up to look around them, they’re getting a workout. While you have down on a play mat, encourage them to look up at you, whether with toys or just simply talking or singing to them. Toys that move, like anything on wheels or balls, may encourage your child to start crawling if they roll out of reach.
If you carry your baby in a wrap or a sling, this is another excellent way of getting them to strengthen their upper back, shoulder and neck muscles. Every time they squirm around, or push themselves back against you to lift their heads up and look in your face, they are strengthening their muscles.
It’s not a good idea to leave your baby in their infant car seat or baby carriage for hours at a time, either. The more time they have free to move and explore the sooner they will develop the necessary muscles to get them crawling.
Before your baby is finally crawling, you’re going to have to make some changes around your home. Where before, they couldn’t get anywhere without your help, now they have the opportunity to get into whatever they want. So take some time and childproof your home. The best way to do this is to see things from your child’s perspective, so get down on your hands and knees, or is low to the floor as possible, and scope out anything that might present a danger to your child. This could be all those wires that are strategically hidden behind your entertainment unit, or floor level cupboard doors. You need to make sure you have baby gates for your staircases, and covers for your electrical outlets. You might miss some things on your first sweep around, but if you keep your eyes on your now crawling baby, you can be sure they will find whatever you missed.
My Baby Still Isn’t Crawling, Should I Worry?
In most cases, there will be nothing to worry about. Your baby just may be one of the many babies that don’t start crawling until later. However, if by their first birthday they are in no way mobile, like shuffling backwards on their butt like I did, then you should see their pediatrician. You should also contact your pediatrician if you notice that when trying to crawl they seem to favor one side of their body.