Everything You Need To Know About Babies And Crawling

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Are you bringing home a new bundle of joy? If you are, you know it won’t be long before they’re mobile and on the go. You may be wondering when your little one will learn to crawl. In this article, we’ll take a good look at when you should expect your little one to achieve this milestone—and what you need to do to prepare.

When Do Babies Normally Learn To Crawl?

Like other motor skills achievements, learning to crawl is one that will vary from child to child. Though there is no right or wrong time to learn, there are standard windows of time where it’s likely to occur. If your child isn’t directly on track, though, don’t worry. Variations in the timeline can be entirely normal.

When Do Babies Reach Their Expected Milestones?

Your child may follow their own timeline for achieving milestones. However, the following timeline is widely accepted:

  • By 6 months of age: Your child should be able to consistently roll from front to back and from back to front without assistance.
  • Between 6 and 8 months of age: Your little one should be a confident sitter, sitting without additional support or assistance.
  • Between 7 and 9 months of age: Your little one should be practicing getting on their hands and knees and rocking back and forth. This is the precursor to crawling and strengthens coordination between large muscle groups as well as muscle development.
  • Between 8 and 13 months of age: This is when your child will likely begin to crawl.
  • Between 9 and 10 months of age: Your little one may begin pulling themselves up into a standing position. In the beginning, this is likely to happen using the support of furniture and other mid-height items. Make sure furniture is secured to walls and there are no tipping hazards.
  • Between 9 and 13 months of age: This is the time frame where you’ll likely see your child begin to cruise while using furniture for support.
  • Between 10 and 14 months of age: Your child will begin to stand and walk confidently without assistance.
baby crawling

How Do Babies Learn To Crawl?

Crawling requires a tremendous amount of muscular strength and coordination. Your child will begin preparing for crawling when they are quite young and still have limited mobility. Strengthening crucial muscle groups through the back and neck, core, and lower body is important to pre-crawling.

You will notice your baby begins to become more intentional with their movements and more expressive of their goals. They will start to have motivators to urge them to move to a new position. This starts very early. You’ll likely notice it when they’re in their baby gym or being fed.

These motivators will drive your child to learn how to move to the location they want to be. They’ll learn quickly you aren’t always available to take them where they want to go. While it isn’t likely that your little one will begin with crawling, it is likely they’ll find a way to get where they want to be. Rolling, scooting, and dragging their lower body are all efficient pre-crawling options your baby may employ.

However your child chooses to move, they’re going in the right direction when it comes to crawling. They’ll be building coordination skills and developing their muscles in the process. Before long, they will lift their middle off the ground and practice being on all fours.

Before your child tries to crawl, they will likely assume this all-fours position and rock, sway, or lean from side-to-side. These actions will help them become familiar with crawling. As they begin to put the pieces together, you may see them begin to crawl. Don’t be surprised if they crawl just a step or two and then revert to their favorite form of travel.

After your child has the logistics of the crawl down, they will most likely move back and forth between methods. Crawling is the least physically demanding, most comfortable, and most efficient way to move greater distances, though. As your child becomes more comfortable at the crawl, you’ll see them resort to their other method less often.

It’s possible your child will skip crawling, or barely crawl and get straight to standing and cruising in preparation for walking. If this happens, don’t be concerned. Crawling is a crucial skill that helps develop bilateral coordination, though. Many children who walk first, do end up going through a period of crawling later.

How To Help Your Baby Learn To Crawl

Like many parts of parenthood, you aren’t going to be able to make your baby crawl when it’s convenient for you. You can, however, help support the development of crawling skills by doing the following:

baby crawling
  • Don’t skimp on tummy time: When you still have a newborn, you may not be thinking about their crawling future. Early tummy time helps build head control, back and neck strength, and upper body muscle. These are really important when it comes to your child achieving most of their expected milestones.
  • Tempt your baby with toys: You know the items your child can’t get enough of. Whether it’s your cell phone or your child’s favorite stuffed animal, hold it just out of reach. You can also place it on the floor near them but not close enough to touch if this helps avoid frustration. They’ll be motivated to move by the object.
  • Give your baby plenty of freedom: Your baby is programmed to become mobile. Leave them to their own devices in a secure, baby-proofed area that’s contained by a baby play fence and is safe for them to explore. You’ll be more willing to let them try their hand at crawling if you aren’t worrying about their safety.
  • Praise successes: Your baby loves to see you happy. Make a big deal of even minor progress. This will help encourage them to keep trying. Those minor signs of progress will add up quickly and before you know it your baby will be crawling.
  • Offer physical support when needed: Getting all the pieces to fit together can be challenging. If your child is successfully making it to all fours, you can place your hands behind their feet. This helps give them something solid they can press against. The extra stability can let them focus on the other pieces until they’re ready to put it all together.

When To Worry Your Child Isn’t Crawling

Is your child deviating from the expected trajectory? You probably don’t need to worry, but if your child is doing the following, you may want to mention it to your pediatrician:

  • Your child has a strong side preference: Does your child have a significant preference for using one side, or exclusively uses that side of their body for activities? Is there a great difference in muscle tonality or development? Make sure to mention your concerns to your child’s doctor.
  • Your baby isn’t interested in learning to move: Moseying along at their own pace is one thing. Not being interested or motivated to move is another. If your child hasn’t adopted some form of moving method and if they show no interest in going places, talk with your doctor.

Helping Your Baby Learn To Crawl

You can help get your baby off to a great start when it comes to crawling. Keeping track of their progress and enjoying the little things along the way will make it more enjoyable. Focusing on the good instead of the bad can also help make it less stressful.

You can help your baby learn to crawl by being invested in their progress and giving them the opportunity to master the skill. Before you know it, they’ll have crawling all figured out, and they’ll start using a push walker to get around.

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.