Crawling: Everything You Need to Know
Crawling is as much an attitude as it is a physical milestone. No longer content to sit around and watch the world go by, babies in motion have places to go and people to meet. There’s no slowing down these little movers and shakers, so brace yourself for life in the fast and be sure to baby-proof your home if you haven’t already. And don’t forget to buckle up—it’s going to be a wild ride.

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When Does It Happen?
Most babies begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months. Requiring strength and coordination, crawling is your baby’s first step toward physical independence—a feeling that will undoubtedly give her a sense of power and freedom. Crawling typically comes after a child learns to sit without support and can raise her head. (This usually happens around month 6 or 7.) As your baby’s upper-body strength increases, she’ll also start leaning over to pick up toys. Eventually she will learn to roll down onto her stomach and get back up to a sitting position.

When she’s lying on her stomach, you may start to notice an array of motions. First she’ll arch her neck and scan her surroundings. Next she’ll prop herself up on her hands and knees, rocking herself back and forth gently as her trunk hovers parallel to the floor. Though she’s in the starting blocks, she may not take off crawling for a couple of weeks. This is because babies must first learn to push off with their knees, a process that takes time considering their top heavy—meaning a baby’s upper-body is stronger than her lower-body. Because of this uneven strength, some babies may first crawl backwards instead of forward. Don’t let this bother you, though. What’s important is that your baby is mobile—she’ll switch gears from reverse to drive soon enough.      

How Can I Encourage Crawling?

Give your baby an incentive. As your baby’s strength and coordination improve, her eyesight will make great gains, too. You’ll start to notice your little flirt making eye contact with you from across the room and flashing a heartwarming smile. This is an exciting time for your baby—who is engrossed in the colorful, three-dimensional world unfolding before her—and she’ll want to greet it head on.

To help your baby navigate this new world via crawling, try these strategies:

  • Place a favorite toy or interesting object just beyond your baby’s reach. You might want to sit next to the object and make eye contact with your baby, offering her cheerful sounds and words of encouragement as considers crawling.

  • Create an obstacle course for her to navigate, using pillows, couch cushions, stuffed animals and boxes.

  • Gently massage and move your baby’s arms and legs while she is lying on her back.  Feel free to sing as you do this—“The Wheels on the Bus” is always a popular number with the newborn set—and make sure to always look into your baby’s beautiful eyes.

No Signs of Crawling
Some babies don’t crawl—opting instead to slither on their bellies or scoot on their bottoms. A small number roll. And others skip the process entirely and learn to pull themselves up into a standing position and walk. Whatever your baby’s style, mobility is the sign of a healthy, burgeoning child.

You should be concerned and speak with your pediatrician, however, if your baby celebrates her first birthday and still shows no interest in getting mobile. While babies develop skills at varying rates—some start crawling as early as 5 months; others hold off until the 11th month—they should reach the mobility milestone by some means in less than a year. Exceptions to this rule of thumb are premature babies, who often arrive at this and other milestones several months later than their peers.   

What’s Next?
For all its hype, crawling lasts for only a couple of months. Babies are an anxious bunch who learn quickly that there are more efficient (and faster) ways to move. At around 10 or 11 months, your little one will begin to pull herself up on everything she can reach, whether it’s a footstool or your leg. Once she gets her land legs—expect a lot of wobbling at first—she’ll start to cruise about while holding onto furniture for support. Before you know it, usually around her first birthday, she’ll let go of the furniture and amaze you with her walking act. It’s just a matter of time until she adds running, jumping and skipping to her repertoire.    

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