When your baby is born, you’ll have to be content with him just lying in bed and sleeping all day. There’s no doubt you are savoring this precious time. All you have to do is feed him, put him to sleep, and change his diaper. Yet, like other parents, you can’t help but imagine your baby doing other things.
In the 2nd half of your baby’s 1st year, he will start to move more often and will soon master crawling. Crawling is one of the most eagerly awaited milestones in a child’s life. However, learning how to crawl is a complex process. Your baby needs to coordinate his arms and legs in moving, not to mention develop the muscles in his arms, legs, and shoulders to support himself.
How do you know if your little one is ready to start crawling? What can you do to ensure that his first crawl is safe?
When do babies start crawling?
How early do babies crawl? Your child can start crawling at around 7-9 months old. However, it’s not the same for all. Some babies become mobile much faster compared to others. The thing to remember is that babies are brilliant, and they’ll figure out how to start crawling on their own.
If your baby is one of the late crawlers, don’t panic. He might just be taking his sweet time with this “task.” Talking to your pediatrician can help you understand what is going on with your child. Be observant and communicate if your baby can’t support his body weight or if he doesn’t have the energy to move around even if encouraged. If he can’t support his body weight, it can signify poor muscle tone or lack of sufficient tummy time.
So, how do you know if your baby is ready to crawl?
Signs that your baby is ready to crawl
Here’s a crawl readiness checklist to help you see if your baby is ready for this adventure in mobility. It will give you suggestions on how to help your baby learn to crawl. Encourage him to do these more often, and you will see him crawling in no time.
- Baby can push up. If you see your baby trying to push up, just keep up tummy time. Some parents worry about tummy time because it looks as if the baby is struggling when placed on his tummy. However, it’s a suitable means of muscle strengthening. This movement allows your baby to develop his neck, shoulder, and chest muscles, which he needs for crawling.
- Baby rolls over. A critical stage in your baby’s learning to crawl is his being able to roll over from belly to back and then back to belly.
- Baby sits without support. If your baby can sit on his own, this is a good sign that his core muscles are developing well. Core muscles in babies are essential for balance and coordination, and a test of whether he can hold his head up.
- Baby can pull himself using just arms. Crawling requires coordination of the arms and legs, but mastering the movement can take a while. Some babies perfect the movement of their upper extremities (as you can observe when he’s doing the army crawl) and master the lower extremities later on. Encourage this movement by using toys to help baby crawl. You can make crawling an enjoyable activity for your child by playing or singing an off-beat nursery rhyme. You’ll see him enjoying this bonding time with you.
- Baby enjoys the floor. Your baby enjoying the floor rather than his playpen or bouncer is also a signal that he’s ready to crawl. When you observe this behavior, take time to get down, too. Your baby is more intelligent than you think. He can imitate your movement, so show him how crawling is done. It’s also an excellent time to provide support when he loses his balance.
- Baby eyes objects or people he can’t reach. You may notice your baby giving special attention to a particular person or thing, and sometimes, they are far from his reach. You’ll find your baby trying to grab what he wants even if it takes a few tiny steps or crawling from his original place to that object or person. Thus, he is prompted to lift his head and use his hands and knees to get to the thing commanding his attention. Yes, babies are determined this early on.
The different crawling styles
If you think that babies crawl the same way, think again. Some start by crawling backward and eventually learn to crawl forward.
Of course, their 1st attempts will not always be a success. You’ll see how your baby can express his frustration this early because he can’t reach the person or object he is curious about
Here are some of the most common types of baby crawls:
- The belly crawl: This is also known as the commando crawl. About half of babies learning how to crawl do the belly crawl. This is the type of crawling where your baby keeps his tummy against the floor as he begins to move. Some babies do the belly crawl until they learn to crawl with their hands and knees, which requires much more strength. There are some who do the belly crawl until they learn to walk.
- The classic crawl: This type of crawling involves the use of both the arms and the legs. When your baby does this crawl, his arms hit the floor at one side while his leg moves on the opposite side. Your baby’s arm and leg movements happen at the same time.
- The army crawl: It is when your baby moves forward using his elbows while the rest of his body stays on the floor. The army crawl is often done by babies whose upper body and coordination develop much faster than their lower body. For many babies, army crawling is the phase when they begin to shift to the classic crawl.
- The bear crawl: Have you ever seen your baby crawling on his hands and feet with his bottom raised in the air? Well, he’s doing the bear crawl. If he does this type of crawling, more often than not, he’s well on his way to another milestone – walking!
- The frog-leg crawl: If you notice your baby crawling with his knees apart (the frog-leg crawl), this indicates core and hip weakness. In this case, talking to your baby’s doctor may be the best thing to do. Your healthcare provider will give you advice on how to strengthen your baby’s core.
- The bottom scooter crawl: This describes a baby moving with his weight on his bottom, with his torso in an upright position.
- The roll crawl: Your baby rolls to get to the object or person he wants to touch. When he does this, he’s not using any of his hands or knees to move.
To see some of the crawling styles, watch this video:
How to help baby crawl safely
Undoubtedly, you are probably so excited about your baby’s crawling stage. Still, you probably can’t help feeling anxious about his safety as soon as he begins to explore the world around him.
Here are some tips to keep your baby safe so that you can both enjoy this new stage:
- Have every session of tummy time supervised at all times and put your baby on his back when he is napping.
- Remember to keep an eye on your baby during crawling time because, as they say, blink, and you’ll miss it.
- Babyproof your home even before your baby starts moving. Cover corners and electric sockets, lock cabinet doors, and keep hazardous materials out of reach.
- Keep small objects out of reach because they can be a choking hazard.
- Invest in sturdy and reliable baby gates for your home. Make sure to get one with a locking mechanism and a high safety rating.
When should you worry?
Babies differ in so many ways, including the time when they hit a new developmental milestone. Some babies begin to crawl before 7 months of age, and if yours is a late crawler, you may feel concerned. However, it doesn’t indicate that your baby is developmentally behind. Remember that babies are sometimes more comfortable doing the other crawling styles, and some may even skip the crawling stage altogether.
If your baby isn’t crawling yet, encourage him by increasing tummy time or having playtime initiating movements. Your baby will become the best crawler he can be in his own time.
When should you worry?
- If your baby doesn’t wriggle his legs or seems to flop in your arms when being carried or can’t put down his feet when you help him try the standing position at 3-6 months of age
- If your baby doesn’t have the energy to move or finds it difficult to support his body weight, which can indicate low muscle tone or the need for more tummy time
- Legs are stiff, leading to difficulty in getting up or falling far more often than expected
Contact your pediatrician if you see these red flags or if you have observed something unusual. Your baby’s healthcare provider will be able to give you an explanation and intervene if necessary.
The crawling stage will be over before you know it, so make sure to savor this time fully. And like any other parent, you’re most likely thinking about the next stage. If you’re considering a baby walker to help your child walk, be sure to read some studies linked to baby walker safety.
When it comes to your baby, you can never be too cautious. However, it’s also imperative to enjoy every moment because our babies do grow up so fast.