When Do Babies Start Crawling? 9 Expert Tricks To Help Baby

Crawling is a major milestone that signifies the start of your baby’s future mobility. Read on to learn when do babies start crawling, what different crawling styles there are, how to encourage healthy physical development and what to do if your baby doesn’t crawl as expected.

When Do Babies Start Crawling?

What Is A Crawl?

When we visualise a baby crawling we usually imagine the classic hand and knees crawl. But the definition of a crawl is simply: the phase of movement before your baby learns to walk.

And there are many ways in which babies can crawl too…

The 5 Methods Of Crawling

There are several different methods of crawling and your little one may opt for one or a mixture of the following:

Crawling And Sleep Disruption

Sleep disruptions usually occur when baby goes through a big developmental leap and it’s very common to experience sleep challenges when your baby begins to learn to crawl.

Your baby may find it more exciting to practice in their crib as opposed to closing their eyes and going to sleep. This can be a big trigger for a sleep regression around 8 or 9 months.

For more information about how to navigate the 8-month sleep regression, check out this post.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

What Are The 6 Stages Of Learning To Crawl?

So how does your baby learn to crawl?

Well, first they have to develop strong upper body and neck muscles then they have to work on balance and coordination… and then, most importantly, they have to practice.

Here are the 6 stages of baby crawling:

6 Stages Of Learning To Crawl

1. Tummy Time

From the very early days, you can start putting your newborn on their tummy for a couple of minutes at a time as part of your daily routine. Gradually increase the amount of tummy time your baby is having and make their time more interesting by providing tummy time toys, books and activity mats.

NOTE: If your baby is struggling with tummy time, read my tummy time post to learn more.

2. Rolling

Between 4 and 6 months, your baby will start to roll over during tummy time. They will normally roll from front to back and then back to front.

This is another fundamental baby development milestone towards crawling, as they gain more control of their body and strengthen their arm and leg muscles, as well as their neck and shoulder muscles.

TOP TIP: Some babies use rolling for a long time to get to where they want to go and they can become very good at getting across the room by using this method!

3. Sitting Up And Pivoting

When babies learn to sit up from lying down, they are gaining an all-important sense of balance.

Being in a seated position also strengthens their lower back, core and spinal cord. Together all of these things are necessary for them to develop the motor skills, strength, control and stamina in their arms and legs required for crawling.

During this phase, you may also notice that your baby starts to pivot and swivel whilst on their tummy.

4. Rocking And Planking

Next comes rocking and planking.

As your baby practices rocking back and forth on their hands and knees or pushing themselves into a plank position, they are learning the muscle memory necessary for crawling and refining their balance in the crawling position. These are all tell-tale signs baby is getting ready to crawl.

5. Commando Crawl

The commando crawl is the last stage before proper crawling that your baby will go through.

As I mentioned above, this is when your baby actually manages a forward movement in the form of a belly crawl, pulling with their arms and pushing with their feet. 

6. Hands And Knees (maybe)

Finally, your baby will start to put all the stages of muscle memory, strengthening and balance that they have been practising together and start crawling on their hand and knees.

Here’s a beautiful video to help you visualise the stages your baby will go through when learning to crawl.

How To Teach Baby To Crawl

There are so many things you can do to help motivate and encourage your baby to learn how to crawl. Here are my top 9 tricks to try:

9 Tricks To Help Baby Learn How To Crawl

1. Offer Lots Of Tummy Time

It goes without saying that ensuring your baby has age-appropriate tummy time is the best way to start them on the road to crawling.

Offering lots of floor time and physical activity opportunities will all go a long way to helping your baby with tummy time and movement milestones.

2. Utilise Play Gyms

Play gyms allow your baby to practice their reaching up, grabbing and swiping actions with objects while lying on their backs. All of these actions are ideal for strengthening the upper body and arm muscles in preparation for crawling.

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3. Get Down To Their Level

If your baby is struggling to enjoy tummy time or playing on their own get down to their level and talk and chat with them. You are their favourite plaything in the early days and having you down there with them will give them focus and encouragement.

4. Give Them Space To Roll

Give your baby plenty of space in a safe place to reach and roll. Rolling is a great exercise for your pre-crawler and a play mat is a wonderfully soft and entertaining place for your trainee crawler to practice their skills.

Teytoy Baby Play Mat

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5. Dress Your Baby Appropriately

Make sure your baby is dressed in loose-fitting comfy clothing that allows them to move unrestricted.

Some babies don’t like the feel of certain surfaces on their bare skin and will prefer to have their legs covered as they move closer to crawling, while others don’t mind at all.

Dungarees and coveralls are ideal for your baby once they are moving more.

6. Stay Barefoot

When learning to crawl, being barefoot allows your baby to better feel the surfaces beneath them when they push up in the plank position or propel themselves across the floor in a belly crawl.

Being barefoot also strengthens the feet, ankle and leg muscles and movements required for learning to walk down the line.

If your baby has to wear shoes to stay safe when out and about, opt to wear barefoot shoes, leather or super flexible baby shoes to offer protection whilst still allowing your little one’s feet to move and flex as naturally as possible. Like these Clamfeet Organic Cotton Vegan Baby Shoes:

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7. Baby Yoga

If your baby is not keen on tummy time, baby yoga exercises are a great complementary way for them to develop those all-important upper body muscles whilst being lots of fun for both you and baby/.

8. Practice Sitting

Sitting teaches balance and allows your baby to learn how to lean forward and sideways while supporting themselves with their arms and then pushing back up to sitting.

Give your baby plenty of opportunities to play with toys while sitting and help them to gain balance by putting toys where they have to lean and reach for them, with you at hand to catch them if they lose their balance.

9. Practice Makes Perfect

Playing simple games with your baby as they start to crawl will help them achieve the developmental goals necessary to become expert crawlers.

What To Avoid When Teaching Baby To Crawl

Giving your baby as many opportunities to use their bodies to finally be able to crawl is vital but there are certain things that should be avoided as they may inhibit your little one’s crawling development.

Things to limit or avoid when baby is learning to crawl include:

Of course, one slightly tight jumper for a special occasion or a few minutes in a bouncer will not harm your baby… But by being aware that extended exposure to these behaviours may cause baby some crawling inhibitions, you will be ensuring baby gets the most out of every day.

Baby Proof Your Home For A Crawling Baby

Babyproofing your home in preparation for a crawling baby is also hugely important. As soon as you think your baby’s mobility is around the corner you should do the following:

Your baby will become mobile a lot quicker than you think and it’s only a matter of time until they’re pulling up on the edge of a coffee table and reaching for everything they can get their hands on.

So if you get the feeling that they may start moving soon, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get your home babyproofed.

Should You Be Concerned If Baby Is Not Crawling?

As we are always saying, all babies reach developmental milestones at different times.

Some babies may skip conventional crawling altogether and go from bottom shuffling to pulling to standing and taking their first steps without a backwards glance.

You should also consider that your baby may not be moving towards crawling because they have not been given enough opportunity to practice…

However, if you feel that despite you offering all the necessary opportunities for them to learn to crawl and they are not developing as expected, then you should seek medical advice from a health professional or pediatrician.

What To Also Look For If Baby Is Not Crawling

If your baby is not crawling and it’s accompanied by these signs, you should definitely visit a childhood development specialist to rule out any developmental delays or underlying conditions:

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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