Crawling is the definition of an enormous milestone for babies because it's the first time for them to move around on their own. They start by learning to balance on their hands and knees and then figure out how to move forward, making it from point A to point B. Being able to get around by themselves gives babies a sense of accomplishment, which is a huge boost to their self-esteem. It also opens up their world to so many discoveries in their everyday environment. Last it leads the way to more complex movements, such as pulling themselves to stand up and later on to walking once their muscles have strengthened enough.
When do babies start crawling?
Babies typically start crawling after they can sit well without support, which is between the ages of 7 - 10 months. Besides that, your baby may practice another method of moving around this time, such as bottom shuffling, gliding on her stomach, or rolling across the room. This is entirely normal, and you don’t have to worry about your baby’s style of movement. What is essential is getting mobile. There are cases of babies that skip the crawling phase altogether and go directly to pulling up, standing, cruising and walking.
There are lots of crawling styles, some of which might look strange to you at first. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your child, what is important is that she is moving by herself. Your baby may start with one style and then progress to another, or stick to her favorite one until she starts walking. Some crawling styles include the:
• Classic crawl. From her belly, baby pushes up on her hands and knees, moving one arm and the opposite leg together at the same time while pushing forward.
• Bottom scoot. Sliding her bottom across the floor, using her legs to pull herself forward.
• Commando crawl (also known as the “belly crawl”). Lying flat on the tummy and pulling herself along with her arms.
• Crab crawl. One leg is bent like the crawling position while the other leg is extended and pushes along like a crab. The knee never touches the ground.
• The bear crawl. Moving around on her hands and feet with straight legs and her behind lifted high in the air.
• Backward crawl, usually done by babies who are stronger in their arms than legs.
How to help your baby crawl
Here are a few ways you can help your baby start crawling:
• Tummy time. Placing your baby on her tummy a few times a day while she's awake and alert will help to strengthen the muscles that she needs to crawl. You'll know your little one is almost ready to crawl when she starts doing mini pushups, lifting or propping herself up on her arms.
• Belly bait. Some babies don't like being on their tummy, so make it interesting for them! Place one of their favorite toys out of their reach or laying down in front of them to get their attention. This trick can encourage your baby to start crawling.
• Sitting also helps babies develop strong abdominal and back muscles for crawling. In fact, babies often "discover" crawling from a sitting position.
• Childproof. Once your baby starts crawling, you might be surprised at how soon she'll be able to move fast and go from one place to another in the blink of an eye. If you don't have a carpet, purchase a few nonslip rugs or floor mats to protect your baby's knees from hard surfaces. You can also buy knee pads for crawling to make sure that they are always protected whatever the surface. Make sure your house is childproofed, and always keep an eye on your baby. Once she is in motion, expect her to explore anything and everything within her reach. If she climbs where she shouldn't, gently remove her and remind her (over and over) that furniture is not for climbing. Put up a safety gate at the beginning of the staircase and make sure that heavy furniture is safely hinged against the wall. Don't forget the safety plugs and keep knives, breakables, cleaning agents and other dangerous items locked up or out of reach.
After your baby crawls – what's next?
After your baby has mastered crawling, she will soon start pulling herself up on everything she can reach. As soon as she experiences balancing on her legs, she will be able to stand up on her own take tiny steps while holding on to furniture or your hand. From there it's only a matter of time until she takes her first steps and starts walking, running, jumping, and more.