Crawling is one of the most exciting (and adorable) baby milestones. There’s nothing quite like that moment you see your little one take off!
It’s one of the first signs of independence that our babies show and it gives them their first real taste of the world around them. Crawling is a major step in their development, between when they learn to sit up and as they eventually move towards walking.
There are so many different ways your baby will learn to crawl – most will have their own unique style of doing it! Whether it’s a belly crawl, commando crawl or even something more akin to a bear crawl.
When it comes to milestones, it’s important for parents to understand what’s normal, what’s not and when to worry. But when it comes to your baby’s development, every little one is different and will get there in their own time. Don’t worry about your baby’s journey lining up with “most babies.”
The key is being aware of developmental milestones – but not living by them!
When do babies start crawling: Stages and milestones
Babies typically begin crawling between 7 and 12 months, starting a hands and knees position around 6 months before rolling over and crawling on their tummies by 9 months (known as a “commando crawl.”) The crawling stage normally kicks in after being able to independently get into a sitting position, as they begin to test their own abilities and their curiosity for exploration takes over. Babies learn by having a go!
Baby crawling stages
Experts recommend getting our little ones to do tummy time right from birth, and whilst this seems cute and fun, it’s also great for baby development. Tummy time is actually helping their muscles and development which they’ll actually need to sit, crawl and eventually walk.
Pivoting, which typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 9 months, is an important precursor to crawling and, eventually, walking. Babies use their upper bodies to shift their weight and change their orientation during this stage, often while lying on their stomachs. They pivot on their arms and shoulders, allowing them to explore their surroundings. This increased mobility reflects their increasing physical strength and coordination, as well as their curiosity about the world around them.
Pivoting not only serves as a stepping stone to your baby crawling, but it also promotes cognitive and motor development.
Babies often begin “planking” before they learn to crawl. Before they have the full coordination and strength required for traditional crawling, they will hold themselves in a prone position with their arms and legs extended, resembling a plank. Planking is an important intermediate stage in their mobility journey, as it helps to build essential strength, improve balance, and develop the muscles required for crawling.
Moving forward on belly
“Army crawling” or “scooting,” involves babies using their arms to pull their bodies forward while keeping their lower halves flat on the ground. Belly crawling not only builds upper body strength and coordination but also helps babies explore their environment more actively. Belly crawling also enables babies to reach for toys, navigate towards interesting objects, and engage more fully with their surroundings.
Rocking on hands and knees
As babies get closer to crawling, they may go through a stage where they begin to rock on their hands and knees. Balancing on their hands and knees in a rhythmic back-and-forth motion helps babies improve their balance and build the muscle power necessary to maintain their body weight, and it’s a prelude to full-fledged crawling.
Moving from belly to sitting up
As babies learn to crawl, they may figure out how to get from their belly to a sitting position. Babies learn to sit up from a prone position by gradually shifting their weight and pushing up with their hands – a handy skill as it prepares them for the next stage of their crawling adventure!
Babies may also push backward as part of their learning process to crawl. In this reverse movement, sometimes referred to as the “moonwalk” crawl, babies use their arms and legs to push themselves away from their desired direction as they gradually grasp the concept of movement and spatial orientation. While this may seem counterproductive to crawling, it’s an actually helping them refine their muscle control, balance, and understanding of their own physical abilities.
How do they go from tummy time to crawling?
You’ll notice tummy time changes as they grow, they become more active, start to hold their head up and control their head movements, moving their arms and eventually learning to push themselves up on their hands and knees.
Some babies will get into a crawling position from this point, whereas others will prefer to crawl from a seated position. There may be some bum scooting, the odd crab crawl, bear crawl and the occasional belly flop (you’ll need to keep a camera on you to catch these cute moments), but that’s the fun of crawling practice.
What if my baby doesn’t crawl?
Whilst crawling is cute and a big developmental milestone, it’s actually not a crucial one and not all babies will do it.
Some babies might just start crawling a little later and have a couple more false starts, but they get there eventually! If your baby skips crawling, try not to worry too much – every baby develops so differently, and those gross motor skills will build regardless.
Do some babies skip crawling?
The short answer is – yes! Some babies will actually skip crawling altogether and go straight from sitting to standing (little overachievers!).
My baby isn’t crawling like other babies, is that ok?
Babies crawl in all sorts of unique ways, there are so many different crawling styles! Many will be on all fours, shuffling on their hands and knees but some might shuffle on their bottom, some might do the one-legged kick and, as we mentioned above, others might even go backwards!
Baby crawling styles
Babies crawl in all sorts of ways. Your baby might be a rolling baby, or a bottom shuffler who leaves the work to their hands. Babies have their own crawling styles, whether it’s the cute belly crawl or the good old classic crawl. Below, we’ve listed just a few of the ways babies crawl.
The classic crawl, is where your little one balances on their hands and knees, much like we do!
Commando crawling (also known as belly crawling) happens when babies roll onto their tummies and use their feet and arms as they’re moving forward.
During bear crawling, babies use their hands and feet to move forward, keeping their knees and belly off the ground – like the way a bear walks on all fours!
Bottom scoot crawl
Bottom scoot crawling – or “bum-shuffling” – is where babies sit on their bottoms and use their hands to push themselves across the floor.
Instead of traditional crawling, some babies roll from one place to another, using their momentum to move forward.
Crab crawling is when babies prop themselves up on their hands and feet while moving sideways, often in a coordinated, crab-like manner.
The backwards crawl can often be how babies start crawling, and involves them lying on their backs and pushing their feet off the ground to shuffle back.
Tips and tricks to encourage your baby to crawl
If you are looking to teach your baby to crawl, there are a few ways you can try. From getting on your hands and knees to demonstrate how it’s done to tempting them with toys and treats, here are a few ways you can teach your baby to become a crawling extraordinaire! (okay, no promises but it’s worth a shot!).
1. Toys as crawling motivation
Tummy time is the ultimate baby exercise to strengthen their head, neck, back, arms and core muscles. Put toys and other interesting objects in their line of sight to help encourage them to look towards things and eventually reach out and start grabbing (always whilst supervised).
As babies begin start to reach and grab you can place things just out of their reach to encourage that movement.
Remember that no object or toy is as exciting to your baby as you, so get down on the floor with them and play, sing, read and encourage crawling.
2. Offer some support
Get down on the floor with your baby during playtime!n And, when your baby begins to crawl, provide them with positive reinforcement. Clap, smile, and encourage their progress to boost their confidence (which we know you’ll be doing anyway!). You can also gently guide your baby by placing your hands behind their feet as they crawl to help them maintain balance – this could help your baby to crawl.
3. Do push-ups together with your baby
Lead by example! Babies love to imitate people – especially their parents. So, get on your hands and knees and show your little cutie how it’s done!
Music to inspire your baby for crawling
Sometimes, you just need a good tune to get you motivated – and babies can be the same. Try playing uplifting, fun and motivational music for your kiddo as they are trying to start crawling. If nothing else, it can put you both in a great mood.
Food as motivation for baby crawling
If your little one is a tiny foodie, you can also try putting an age-appropriate treat in their line of vision but just out of baby’s reach and see if that motivates your baby to crawl.
Baby-proofing once your little one is on the move
Make sure that you make your home safe for your avid explorer. Once they get the knack for it – there’s no stopping them! So a good trick is to get down on the floor yourself, and crawl around and look for anything that might grab their attention and make sure it’s safe or secure or remove it altogether.
How long until my baby learns to walk once they’ve started crawling?
There really is no set time period for this phase, some babies will get a taste for freedom and move to walking very quickly. However, others will relish this crawling phase and may stay in it for 6 months or more.
Remember, all babies are different and will do things in their own time and in their own ways.
When should I worry about my baby’s crawling?
If your baby is over 12 months and not showing signs of crawling yet, you may want to speak with your doctor or paediatrician about possible causes. As previously mentioned, some babies will just skip crawling altogether so delayed crawling might not be anything to worry about. Developmental milestones vary, but if you are worried about their motor skills, it’s always better to check with your healthcare provider.
Similarly, if your baby is crawling and not showing signs of walking by around 18 months, it is also a good idea to speak with your doctor or paediatrician.
Babies crawl when they are good and ready, although some may skip crawling all together and get straight into the business of walking.
When your baby starts crawling, it might not be a traditional crawl right away but rather a bear crawl, crab crawl, rolling crawl or even a combination. You can try to teach your baby to crawl by offering support and encouragement and demonstrating how it’s done. Try to stay patient and also try not to compare your baby to others and their development – it’s probably just a matter of time before they are on their way!
While your baby learning to crawl is a super exciting milestone, it’s not an absolutely crucial one. When it does happen, make sure you take the necessary steps to keep your cutie safe.
Like so many things with parenting, your baby will begin crawling before you know it and then you’ll blink and they’ll be walking (and then running and then you’ll forever be on your feet!) Enjoy every single moment with your precious bub and, as always, if you have any concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to your family doctor for advice or reassurance.
Brought to you by the Kiindred Editors. Our team are committed to researching and writing on all the things we know you will want to know about, at each stage of your pregnancy and parenthood journey.
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