Many parents eagerly anticipate the day their child will begin crawling for the first time. This important step signifies a baby’s growing independence and is a huge physical development milestone. If you’re wondering “when do babies start crawling?” here’s what to expect.
When Crawling Begins
Every baby is different, so don’t feel bad if yours develops faster or slower than the norm. If you’re concerned about delays in physical development, talk to your pediatrician. He or she can give you advice and let you know if your baby’s developmental delays are due to any physical abnormalities. With that said, most babies start to crawl between the ages of 6 and 10 months.
Before a baby begins crawling, he usually preps by doing some or all of the following:
- Lifting his torso up with his arms.
- Doing adorable mini “push-ups” in an attempt to get up on his hands and knees.
- Kicking his legs while lying on his tummy.
All of these activities help strengthen your little one’s muscles so they can support themselves on their hands and knees. Once they gain sufficient strength and coordination, they’ll be able to boost up on all fours. They’ll probably rock back and forth and may even fall forward as they try to get the knack of moving forward. Be patient and give them plenty of encouragement each time they try to become mobile.
Styles of Movement
Once your baby begins crawling, you might be surprised by how silly it looks at first. Remember, your baby is still learning how to move their arms and legs in a coordinated fashion. Don’t be embarrassed if they move strangely when they begin to crawl. While their antics might make you giggle, they’re gaining valuable experience that will help them become more efficient in mobility. Here are a few common crawling styles babies adopt:
- Scooting (sitting on the bottom and using the legs to scoot forward).
- Classic style (using alternating arms and legs to move forward in a typical fashion).
- Backward style (using the strength of the arms to scoot or push backward).
- Commando style (lying on the belly and using the arms to scoot forward in a typical Commando fashion).
Though some of these movement styles may seem awkward, they’re generally not a cause for alarm. You can encourage your baby to crawl by propping them up on their hands and knees and slowly helping them move alternating arms and legs forward.
Indications of a Problem
In rare cases, delayed crawling may indicate a neurological or physical problem. If your child fails to crawl or scoot by the time he’s 1-year-old, it’s time to visit your pediatrician. Babies who favor one side or consistently fail to meet developmental milestones could have an underlying problem such as cerebral palsy or low muscle tone. Keep in mind that these problems are rare, and there are many perfectly normal reasons babies might not want to crawl.
How To Help Your Baby
Sometimes babies need a little encouragement to start crawling. If your little one seems to be delayed in the mobility department, you can help by doing the following:
- Encourage tummy time. If he/she doesn’t like tummy time, limit it to a few minutes at a time until they develop more core strength. Make tummy time as fun as possible by giving them toys, books and lots of attention.
- Put your hands behind your baby’s feet when they’re on their hands and knees. This can prevent them from slipping back onto their tummy and can give them extra stability and confidence.
- Put toys just out of reach. While this may seem cruel at first, putting your little one’s toys just outside of reach can encourage them to move toward the objects.
Of course, the most important thing you can do to encourage your baby to crawl is provide lots of love, encouragement and verbal rewards.
What Happens if Your Baby Doesn’t Ever Crawl?
Some babies don’t crawl at all and move right into walking. While crawling is a very important developmental step that you should encourage your child to do, don’t panic if he refuses to move around on his hands and knees and takes to walking instead. Ultimately, as long as your baby is happy, healthy and continuing to advance, you’re doing a great job!