Baby on the Move: The World of the Crawler
In the first few months of your baby’s life, you can lay him on his favorite blankie on the floor, dash into the other room for a glass of water and come back to your sweet little cherub in the exact same spot.
But then sometime after the 6-month mark, your tot realizes that those arms and legs are good for something. The next thing you know, he’s crawling at lightning speed around the house.
Crawling typically begins between 8 and 11 months of age, according to Dr. Robert Stein of Child Care Limited in Kansas City, MO. All babies are unique, however, and the age at which they begin crawling varies, as does their method of mobility.
For instance, my daughter was a “roller” for many months, “army crawled” for a few more months, crawled on all fours for a mere week or so and then took off walking. My son, however, went from sitting to traditional crawling, which he did for several months before he tentatively took his first steps.
Other babies scoot on their bottoms to get where they’re going, and some skip crawling altogether, going straight to pulling up and standing.
How Crawling Develops
Soon after your baby begins sitting without support (around 6 months), her arm, leg and back muscles will become strong enough to hold her up when she gets on her hands and knees. She will learn how to move from a sitting position to being on all fours, undoubtedly taking a few face plants in the beginning.
Rocking back and forth on all fours is usually the next step, often paired with a “why can’t I get this thing going?” facial expression. Imagine the frustration of being in the driver’s seat and not being able to find the gas pedal.
Fortunately for your baby, she’ll soon realize that she can use her hands and knees to propel herself forward. This often happens around 9 or 10 months. As she gains strength and confidence, she’ll learn how to transition from a crawling position back to a sitting position, not an easy feat for a little one.
What You Can Do
Parents can help their baby learn to crawl by giving him plenty of tummy time. Put him on his tummy on the floor for a few minutes several times a day, and place interesting toys just beyond his reach to encourage mobility.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using pillows, cushions and boxes to create obstacle courses for your baby to navigate. Be vigilant when doing this; if your baby gets trapped under a box or pillow, he’ll be in danger of smothering.
A crawling baby likes to explore, which can potentially lead to danger. Take time to safety-proof your home. Get down at baby’s-eye view and ask yourself questions. What’s within reach? What looks tempting?
Cords, wires and houseplants are big hazards for babies on the move, cautions Dr. Stein. Use cordless window coverings when possible, or use shorteners or wind-ups to keep the cords out of baby’s reach. Also, lock up cleaning supplies and medications, install stairway gates, buy electrical outlet covers and make sure small objects are off the floor and out of reach.
Many variable factors influence mobility, according to Dr. Stein, and he recommends making an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s development.
Tisha Foley and her family live in Belton. Her children are 8 and 4 and still enjoy crawling when they play babies.