It can be an exciting day when your little one learns to crawl. It marks the end of their total dependence on you and the beginning of their independence. However, if your baby isn’t showing interest in crawling you may find yourself stressing over it. Specific milestones like this can be a source of stress for parents, only to be made worse by everyone asking “are they crawling yet?” and making comparisons between babies of similar age.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways you can set your baby up for crawling success. But remember, even if you do everything “right” your baby still has their own timeline and will crawl when they’re ready.
What age do babies crawl?
Crawling usually begins sometime between 6 and 10 months of age. Their first attempts may not look like traditional crawling, but it still counts. Crawling is defined as forward movement using hands and knees or dragging the body on the ground, so any variation counts as crawling.
It’s important to note that lots of babies skip crawling altogether. Your baby could skip straight to walking – leaving you sorry that you ever stressed about their late crawling!
If your baby is 10 months or older and not showing interest in any independent movement then it’s best to ask your GP or Public Health Nurse for advice.
Benefits of crawling
Although many babies skip crawling, it has some great developmental benefits.
- Builds core strength
- Builds shoulder stability
- Improves hip alignment
- Improves fine and gross motor skills
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- Helps establish better learning patterns and visual tracking
- Strengthens the connection between both sides of the brain
- May help prevent hyperactivity and dyslexia
How to encourage your baby to crawl
Lots of tummy time
Many parents stop doing tummy times once their baby learns to sit up, especially when their babies hate tummy time. However, placing your baby to play on their tummy helps to strengthen their neck and back muscles which are crucial to crawling. After plenty of consistent tummy time, you’ll notice your baby starting to do crawling-like movements. Slippery surfaces like tiles and wooden floors can make it hard for your baby to have the confidence to push themselves up onto their knees, so a softer surface like a carpet or playmat is ideal.
Spend as little time as possible in containers
A container is anything that holds your baby in a certain position, thus limiting their free movement. Spending too much time in containers leads to delayed physical development and excessive stress on developing joints. Containers include car seats, high chairs, baby carriers, floor seats, bouncers, jumpers, walkers and swings. Reduce your baby’s time spent in containers by only using essentials, like car seats and high chairs, and have your baby moving freely at all other times.
Hold your baby on all fours
Placing your baby on their hands and knees will help them to strengthen the muscles needed to maintain this position. They may rock back and forth in this position, which is a great sign that they’re getting ready to crawl, as this demonstrates the ability to shift weight between their arms and legs.
Crawl for your baby
Your baby wants to do everything you do, so showing them how fun it is to crawl can make them more enthusiastic about it. Keep in mind that unless your baby spends time around crawling babies, they may have never seen crawling. Crawling around your house is also a great opportunity to assess your baby-proofing. You may uncover hazards that you never would have noticed while walking around.
Use toys to entice them
Put your baby’s favourite toy (or a brand new toy) slightly out of reach during tummy time. Their excitement will have them looking for ways to move forward. Once they shuffle their way over to the toy they will start to understand the benefits of independent movement!
Take the pressure off
As long as your baby is showing interest in moving, there’s likely nothing to worry about. Research suggests that late crawling is not a negative indicator of future abilities. When comparing late crawlers with early crawlers, researchers found no difference in cognitive ability when the children reached 6-11 years of age.