Crawling is one of the first major steps in your child’s journey to independence. Once she masters crawling, she’ll be able to explore the world around her without relying on you to pick her up. You might be keen for her to start crawling, so you can enjoy the next stage of her development together. It’s always exciting when your child learns a new skill, so you may be dying to know, ‘when do babies start crawling?’.
When Do Babies Start To Crawl?
Most babies master crawling when they are aged between 7 and 10 months old. Some start earlier than that, and others start later. Some babies skip the crawling stage altogether, and move straight onto pulling themselves up using the furniture. Some babies choose to bottom shuffle, roll or slither army commando style across the room, not all babies crawl in the same way. Some babies seem to learn to crawl over night, but for most it takes a bit of practice. You should expect your baby to be good at crawling by her first birthday.
How Will My Baby Learn To Crawl?
You’ll be pleased to hear, you don’t need to start moving around the house on your hands and knees to encourage your baby to perfect her crawling skills. Your baby will learn to crawl naturally, as she develops the strength and coordination to become mobile.
Firstly, your baby will master sitting unaided. This requires muscle strength to stay upright, and move into a sitting position. Then she will discover that she can stay in position on all fours, and rock to and fro. At some point, she will push off from her knees, and become mobile. Once she starts moving, it may take her a few weeks to perfect her crawling style, as she learns how to move each of her limbs where she wants, when she wants. Some babies crawl backwards for the first few weeks, as they try to work out how to get around.
Can I Help My Baby Learn To Crawl?
Babies need to build up their muscle strength before they are able to start crawling. Since 1994, parents have been advised to put babies to sleep on their backs, instead of on their tummies, to reduce the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While this has been very effective, some experts believe it has caused some babies to reach physical milestones later. Spending less time on their tummies, means some babies take longer to develop the strength to hold their bodies up. There are a number of things you can do to help your baby pump some iron:
- Tummy time – spending time on her tummy is important for helping your baby to develop the strength to move her body and hold herself up. If your baby cries when you place her on her tummy on the floor, try lying her on your tummy instead. This way, she can still see you and feel safe, but will also be working her muscles. Each time she lifts her head to look at you, she’ll be doing a mini work out.
- Wrap it up – being carried around may not sound like the most effective way of building muscle, but as babies shuffle to reposition themselves in wraps and slings, they are strengthening their muscles. As they lift their head out of the slings to see what’s going on, they are improving their neck muscle strength.
- Make it fun – if your baby is having tummy time on a play mat, entertain her with toys to keep her happy. Dangling toys in front of her, singing and keeping your face close to hers, are all great ways to keep your baby happy during tummy time.
- Moving toys – a couple of toys that move may help to encourage your baby to start crawling. Trains, cars and balls are all great toys that may travel out of baby’s reach as she plays with them.
- Time limits – try to limit the amount of time your baby spends in a car seat, pram or bouncer. Babies need time to move and explore in order to master new skills, so give them the freedom to do this.
- No stress approach – while you may be desperate to see your baby take her first few shuffles towards freedom, try not to get hung up on it. Don’t compare her to other babies, or push her to crawl when she isn’t ready. Just wait, have fun and support her as she develops this new and exciting skill.
My Baby Is Crawling, What Now?
Now that your baby is on the move (or ideally, just before), you need to think about childproofing your home. One of the best ways to do this, is to get down on all fours and crawl about yourself. What can you see that might be dangerous to a baby? Dangling wires, sharp corners and cupboard doors are all things that you should look out for. If your baby has access to your stairs, you may want to put in a stairgate now to stop her getting into danger. By safeguarding your home, you can allow your baby to explore her environment (with supervision).
You’ll need to be stringent about keeping your floors clean now that you have a little adventurer in the house. Remember, babies put pretty much anything in their mouth, and this will include food crumbs, pebbles, and loose change from under the sofa.
When To Worry
Your baby probably hasn’t read this article, so doesn’t know when she should learn to crawl. She may do it sooner, later or at the same time as other babies. If your baby hasn’t become mobile (this could be crawling, shuffling or rolling) by her first birthday, you should contact your healthcare provider. If you notice that your baby is only using one side of her body to move around with (for example, by dragging herself around using just one arm), you should contact your healthcare provider.