How to Teach a Baby to Crawl

Baby crawling

Verywell / Photo Composite by Madelyn Goodnight / Getty Images

Witnessing your baby crawl for the first time is a memorable event. It’s also one of the many major developmental milestones parents start to look forward to as a baby progresses toward walking and running.

Typically, babies start crawling somewhere between 7 and 10 months old, but sometimes babies start earlier or later—or skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking. Learn more about when you can expect your baby to start crawling, the different styles babies use when they learn to crawl, and how you can encourage your baby to crawl.


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When Do Babies Start to Crawl? 

On average, parents and caregivers first notice signs of babies trying to crawl when they are around 7 months old. And by the time your baby is 10 months old, they could be moving around efficiently on their hands and knees.

However, every baby is different. Some will start crawling at 6 months old, while others won't start until they are 12 months old. Some don’t even use their hands and knees and may instead scoot with their hands and bottoms. 

Furthermore, some babies skip crawling completely and start walking by pulling themselves up with their arms. So, if you see your baby do this even though they are not crawling, there’s usually no reason to be concerned.

One study suggests that the season your child is born might affect early development. According to scientists in this study, infants born in the winter months developed cognitive and psychomotor skills earlier than infants born in the summer—maybe because crawling is easier when not bundled up in winter clothes.

Also, not that babies crawl in many different ways. Corey Fish, MD, pediatrician and chief medical officer at Brave Care, says his concern over babies not crawling depends on what else is happening. If your baby seems on track in most other areas, there is less reason for worry.

Corey Fish, MD

Technically, if a child has some way to get from point A to point B, it satisfies the milestone.

— Corey Fish, MD

"Some kids never crawl, and some kids go straight from scooting to cruising or walking," he adds. 

If your baby isn't crawling by 7 or 8 months, don't fuss or stress too much. Babies develop at different rates. That means some babies start a little earlier, and some start later. Ultimately, your baby's pediatrician will be the best person to assess whether or not your baby is just coming to crawling a little later than average or if another issue may be at play.

baby crawling styles

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Signs Your Baby Is Ready to Crawl

Every baby is different and follows their own timeline as they progress toward walking and running. However, babies tend to develop their movement skills incrementally in predictable stages. Key signs that your baby is getting closer to crawling are sitting up and rolling over.

They may roll from front to back and back to front and/or move from a seated position to hands and feet. They also may get up on their hands and knees and/or begin attempting to scoot or wiggle around either on their tummies or bottoms.

However, note that some babies will move through these stages quickly, while others may linger a bit longer before transitioning to crawling. Babies tend to experiment with movement in different ways as well.

How to Help Your Baby Crawl

As your baby starts to learn to crawl, there are some ways you can encourage them. Crawling helps babies develop a sense of independence and builds muscle strength.

Encourage Tummy Time

You can help your baby as they learn to crawl by encouraging them to spend a lot of time on their tummies. Tummy time will help them develop their arm muscles because they'll be pushing themselves up with their hands.

Strong arm muscles are essential for crawling. Placing babies on their tummies also helps them develop the muscles in their necks. Additionally, research shows that the more time babies spend on their tummies, the more likely they start crawling early. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests giving your baby supervised tummy time two to three times a day.

Dr. Fish agrees that plenty of tummy time is the best way to encourage crawling. He suggests starting at 2 to 4 months or sooner if your child can pick their head up. "Let them have lots of floor time and place fun toys or objects around the room and let them experiment in getting there on their own," he says.

While tummy play is suitable for supervised playtime, the AAP advises parents to avoid placing babies on their tummies to sleep. Babies are safest when sleeping on their backs.

Allow Your Baby to Come to You

When your baby is learning to move independently, try to stand away from your baby and encourage them to reach or come to you. If they take some time to do this, be patient. Each baby gets to the point of crawling at their own pace.

Transition to Walking

Once your baby starts to crawl, encourage them to spend as much time on the floor moving around as they'd like. Moving around on the floor helps them develop those muscles properly and get their bodies ready for the next big developmental milestone—walking.

Once your baby has spent a couple of months crawling, you might notice your baby trying to pull themselves up to their full height by holding on to things. You can encourage this by placing toys and other objects higher like on a couch or a coffee table to give them the incentive to pull themselves up.

If your baby was a belly crawler, they might progress to crawling on their hands and feet before they try to learn how to walk. 

How to Keep Crawling Babies Safe

Babies who have started moving independently need space that is safe for them to move around in.

Some baby-proofing considerations for new crawlers include:

  • Cutting the cords of blinds or keeping them contained and up high
  • Keeping small items that babies can choke on out of reach
  • Placing covers over electrical outlets
  • Putting gates up at the top and bottom of the stairs
  • Putting padding around hard or sharp furniture
  • Securing furniture and appliances to the wall
  • Using appliance locks to keep babies from opening doors
  • Using doorknob covers and cabinet latches
  • Using a fireplace gate
  • Using a stove guard to keep little hands away from a hot stove

Babies are naturally curious and unsteady, so it's crucial to consider how to limit falls, injuries, and access to ingestible hazards. Note that every bump or tumble can't be avoided as your baby learns these new skills, but babyproofing will help reduce the severity of any mishap that may occur.

Some babies might use a combination of styles or have a style of their own. None of them are a reason for concern. The important thing is that they are getting around and moving independently.

Different Crawling Styles

When people picture a baby crawling, most imagine them on their hands and knees. While this might be the most common style of crawling, there are many other ways babies crawl:

  • Backward crawl: The baby crawls or scoots backward with their legs and bottom
  • Classic crawl: The baby uses their hands and knees to move around
  • Commando crawl: The baby lies flat on their tummy and uses only their arms to move
  • Crab crawl: Similar to the classic crawl, but the baby keeps their knees off the ground and moves with their hands and feet
  • Scoot crawl: The baby sits upright and uses their legs and bottoms to move around

When to See a Doctor

There is a wide range of normal in terms of when babies begin to crawl. If your baby is on the later end of the spectrum, this delay may be nothing to be worried about. This is particularly true if no other signs of delay or concern exist and/or they were born prematurely.

That's because many babies who are born prematurely might experience developmental delays in their early lives. But, this isn't usually a problem because they will most likely catch up to babies born full-term in no time. 

By 12 months old, most babies are crawling, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule. "I'd only worry if the child literally could not move anywhere on their own by whatever means," says Dr. Fish. Instead, he looks to see if a baby can get around in other ways. Technically, he says the ability to move from one point to another satisfies the crawling milestone.

However, if your baby is 1 year old and isn't crawling, it's a good idea to speak with a pediatrician to find out why this is the case. Often, there is no reason for concern, particularly if there are no other signs of concern, but early intervention for developmental delays is best when necessary.

A Word From Verywell

Most babies start to crawl between 7 and 10 months. However, all babies are different, so your baby may begin crawling sooner or later than average. To encourage your baby to crawl, give them plenty of time to play on their tummy and encourage them to move toward you when they are on the floor. As your baby becomes more mobile, baby-proofing your house becomes even more critical.

If you're growing concerned about your baby's inability to crawl, it's best to reach out to a pediatrician. They can give you some professional insight and answers to any questions you have. Additionally, if there is an issue with your baby's development, the sooner it gets diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes tend to be.

A Word From Verywell

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Michigan State University. Why crawl?.

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By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.