How to Teach a Baby to Crawl

Baby crawling

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

This article explains 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, and some babies don’t start to crawl 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.

Corey Fish, MD, pediatrician and chief medical officer at Brave Care, says his concern over babies not crawling depends on what else is happening.

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 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.

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

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.

baby crawling styles

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

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 tummy, 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 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 an 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 Mobile 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 curious and unsteady, so you'll want to consider how to limit falls, injuries, and access to ingestible hazards.

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, it's probably nothing to be worried about, especially if 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 something to worry about because they are most likely to 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. So 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, 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 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.

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6 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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