Crawling is a major milestone that signifies the start of your baby’s future mobility!
Before now they’ve been happy to lie, wiggle and roll…
But soon they will be up and about, exhilarated with their newfound freedom!
So, when do babies start crawling? And what are the different stages of crawling?
What are the different types of crawls baby may do? And how can we encourage our little ones along this physical development journey?
Let’s dive in!
What is a crawl?
When we visualise a baby crawling we usually conjure up the classic hand and knees crawl.
But a crawl is simply the phase of movement before your baby learns to walk.
There are many ways in which babies can crawl too…
What are the 5 different methods of crawling?
There are several different methods of crawling and your little one may opt for any one of the following!
1. Hands and Knees Crawl
This is the classic crawl we all think of when someone mentions crawling.
In this crawling technique, your baby will move along using the palms of their hands as they shuffle along on their knees, shins and tops of their feet.
2. Bear Crawl
This method of crawling is when your baby has straight arms and their knees are off the ground. They move in a bear-like pose as they crawl along.
3. Crab Crawl
In this crawling method, your baby will move backwards and sideways propelling themselves with their hands.
4. Bottom Shuffle
The bottom shuffle is another common crawl. Babies use their arms to move themselves forward while they stay sitting on their bottom.
5. Commando Crawl
The commando crawl is when your baby pulls themselves along the floor military-style using their arms and pushing with their feet but keeping their belly on the floor.
This is often the pre-runner to the full-blown conventional crawl on hands and knees.
TOP TIP: Some babies use rolling for a long time to get to where they want to be and can become quite adept at getting across the room by using this method.
When Do babies start crawling?
So, when do babies start crawling?
Most babies will start crawling anywhere between 7- 10 months of age.
It is important not to try and compare your baby to others who may be mobile already, while your little one is still content to sit and play.
All babies develop at their own pace and this is why we give fairly loose parameters when it comes to identifying at which age they should be crawling.
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What are the 6 stages of learning to crawl?
So how does your baby get ready for crawling?
Well, first they have to develop strong neck and upper body muscles then they have to work on balance and coordination… and most importantly, they have to practice!
Building up to crawling actually starts at birth when you first put your little one on their tummy and hold them in your arms.
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 several times a day.
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.
If your baby is struggling with tummy time, read my post My Baby Hates Tummy Time to learn how to navigate this tricky situation!
Between 4-6 months your baby will probably start to roll over during tummy time. They will normally roll from front to back then back to front.
This is another fundamental developmental milestone in the move towards crawling, as they gain more control of their body and strengthen those crucial arm and leg muscles, as well as neck and shoulder muscles.
To learn more about when babies roll over check out this post -> When Do Babies Roll Over?
3. Sitting up and pivoting
When babies learn to sit up from lying down, they are gaining an all-important sense of balance. Sitting also strengthens their lower back, core and spinal cord.
Together all of these things are necessary for them to develop the 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.
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!
TOP TIP: Remember that not all babies crawl in the conventional sense but whichever method they choose your little one will have with your help and guidance been working up to this moment from birth.
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: 9 Tricks To Try
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!
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.
2. Utilise Play Gyms
Play gyms allow your baby to practice reaching up, grabbing and swiping while lying on their backs.
All of these actions are ideal for strengthening the upper body and arm muscles in preparation for crawling.
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 to 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!
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 romper suits are ideal for your baby once they are moving more.
6. Stay barefoot
Making sure your baby is barefoot when they are learning to crawl means that they can get a better purchase on surfaces when they push up in the plank position or propel themselves across the floor in a belly crawl.
Being barefoot also enables your baby to feel the sensation of the ground under their feet and strengthen the muscles and movements required for walking down the line!
7. Baby yoga
Baby yoga exercises are a fun way for your baby to strengthen the muscles necessary for crawling and it is fun for you too!
If your baby is not keen on tummy time this is a great complementary way for them to develop those all-important muscles.
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.
This is a perfect precursor to getting in and out of a crawling position.
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 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.
- Place toys just out of reach to motivate your baby to move.
- Roll a ball towards and away from your baby and encourage them to reach and crawl after it.
- Put your baby on different textures and let them experience how it feels to roll, squirm and crawl on play mats, bubble wrap or different fabrics.
Once your baby starts to crawl, get down and crawl with them!
You can play chase and hide and seek both of which will give your baby lots of opportunities to practice their newfound skill.
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 include:
- Putting baby in bouncers and walkers
- Spending excessive time in baby carriers
- Carrying your baby around too much
- Keeping your baby is reclining baby chairs for too long
- Restrictive clothing
Baby Proof your home for a crawling baby
Baby proofing your home in preparation for a crawling baby is hugely important.
As soon as you think your baby’s mobility is imminent you should do the following:
- Cover all electrical sockets with safety covers
- Eliminate all hanging electrical leads, table cloths, blind and curtain cords
- Secure all wobbly furniture
- Put child locks on drawers and cupboards
- Install stair gates
- Lift all pet bowls from the floor
- Remove all pot plants from the floor
TOP TIP: Get down and look at each room from your crawling baby’s perspective to ensure that you have not missed any potential hazards.
Should you be concerned if baby is not crawling?
As we are always saying, all baby’s reach developmental milestones at different times.
Some babies may skip conventional crawling altogether and go from bottom shuffling to pulling to stand and talking their first steps.
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 doing what is expected, then you should seek medical advice.
Other signs of concern to look out for which may indicate there is cause for concern are:
- Your little one is not kicking and moving their legs
- Your baby is not trying to reach out or wriggle towards objects
- Baby does not wriggle or become physically animated when you go to pick them up
- Your baby is not using their legs to support themselves when held by 6 months of age.
As parents, it is important to remember that our babies are individuals and will develop in their own time, at their own pace and in their own style.
It is also important that we remain well informed and do our very best to make sure that our babies have all the age-appropriate play opportunities required to develop to the best of their ability and capabilities.
If you enjoyed this post about ‘when do babies start crawling’ and know of any other parents who would find it useful, be sure to give it a share!
Thank you for reading and until next time, with love and support…
Paula McLarenPaul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.
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