How Old Do Babies Start To Crawl?
Standard textbooks say it starts at six months which is the earliest to ten months of age, the latest. You might be wondering right now if your little one is developing normally, whether he or she is crawling according to this ‘right’ time.
You might have also discussed this concern with your child’s pediatrician just to make sure that everything is in place. This concern is quite common among new parents just like you.
Babies are complex creatures so developmental milestone can never be set in stone. What is regarded as normal today might not be an acknowledged fact at another place and time.
There is also a big gap in terms of the how they develop during this crucial age. Being an early starter or a late bloomer doesn’t automatically translate to being more physically adept later in life. Babies will develop at their own pace and time.
As a parent, what must be understood and considered? Let me help you to decode this particular stage of your baby’s development. Let us navigate this one by one.
How Babies Learn To Crawl ?
At 6 – 11 months of age, your baby attains greater control of his muscles. By this time, he is already ready to explore other places with his hands and later, with his knees also.
As soldiers are trained to do various types of crawling, your baby might have his or her own variation. The most common are these types:
- Crawling in commando(the belly crawl)
- Crab crawl (moving sideways then forward)
- Backwards crawling
- A combination of rolling and squirming on his stomach or bottom
- Scooting which is like crawling on one leg while dragging the other
- The usual creep on hands and knees.
Your baby might have already picked one or two which serves him best. Baby’s control of upper body is more developed than the lower body so he will begin crawling by experimenting with elevation of the upper body through his arms.
Some babies start crawling as early as six months, others begin by nine months while a small percentage only starts this stage before their first birthday.The moment your baby can sit up is the time that he will begin attempts to crawl.
Benefits Of Crawling
Crawling is an important part of a child’s milestone due to a lot of reasons. Among them are:
Crawling spurs growth. It also helps to hone and refine gross motor skills.
Baby learns to connect socially. The moment your baby get down on his or her knees and starts moving, it is an opportunity for him or her to observe and get feedback from his surroundings. It is a way to explore a new world, to meet your house pets and to be able to reach places that he barely sees before.
It increases your baby’s sense of space, depth perception as well as visual spatial skills. A child learns thru visual cues if an object is near or far away. Crawling gives him an impetus to explore and reach an object out of reach.
Baby learns how to navigate a new environment. Crawling gives your baby an opportunity to be familiarized with how your home looks like. It increases awareness of his or her environment.
It improves a baby’s decision making skills. Navigating the maze that forms your house rooms is a great way for a child to practice his or her decision making skills. Crawling through the slopes, boundaries and steps help the baby to practice using various crawling and movement techniques, which is a good way to practice making locomotor decisions.
It focuses their gaze and attention to a goal. Thru crawling, babies identify making movements with getting the prize.
It promotes a sense of independence. It is exciting for a baby to be able to reach his or her caregiver or a favorite toy on his own. The freedom to move and the newfound ability to reach something improves your child’s sense of power and self-esteem.
Crawling helps to strengthen a child’s shoulders, knees, elbows and arms. Older children who have skipped the crawling stage usually have a harder time to do activities later in life such as climbing, throwing a basketball, gymnastics or even pulling one’s body out of a pool. Non-crawlers might also find a harder time holding a pencil and writing legibly during pre-school. Non-crawlers might have messier handwriting because their thumbs and hand muscles are not as stimulated and as strong as crawlers
Making A Comparison With Other Babies?
What is the best advice from a parent that has been there and done that? Don’t compare your child with other kids. More and more kids nowadays are starting to skip certain developmental milestones.
Don’t be surprised if a baby skipped the crawling stage and proceeded with cruising and walking on his own at ten months.Other babies might just skipped crawling simply because they are not given an opportunity for more tummy time or time spent on the floor on his belly.
Most children who skipped crawling stage regularly sleep on their backs instead of their tummy. Also, with the onset of car seats, strollers, jumpers and swings; more and more babies are spending their waking days on their back and butts. Some children are more laid-back while others are born determined.
A baby’s weight may also affect his gross motor development and willingness to move. An overweight kid may find it harder to prop himself up as compared to a lean child.
How To Help Your Child To Crawl?
Helping your child to develop his or her gross motor skills takes a lot of patience. Babies reach these milestones at different times. Allow your child to acquire gross motor skills at his own pace but you may also promote it thru various techniques such as:
- Beginning at one month old, play ‘riding the ‘bicycle’ with his or her legs. This is a great way to move and stimulate the muscles and nerves of the legs.
- Put him on a roomy crib so that he may begin moving about and experimenting with various types of movements
- Allow baby to test the waters by letting him kick with his legs and wriggle with his arms. Let him improve his feet’s strength by having him pick up his toys with his foot.
- Promote exploration by allowing your child to reach a nearby toy through crawling.
- Play copycat. Show your little one how to crawl by doing it yourself. Crawl with your baby side by side.
- Prop and support him standing up. This is a great way to straighten and add strength to an infant’s legs.
- Encourage development of your child’s gross motor skills by letting him or her to play and interact with other children.
Safety During Crawling Stage
Clean up your floor.
Once your child begins to crawl, give him or her lots of empty space to explore. Keep your floor clean and keep a close watch of your little explorer at all times.
Loose wood splinters, foreign objects in the carpet or protruding nails could injure your baby, check everywhere before you let him down. Move all nearby house plants and relocate breakables such as pots and vases away from your baby’s reach.
Be wary of poisonous house plants and remove them out of your home and your garden. Install colorful floor mats to give your baby a soft resting place in between his crawling exploration.
Secure your furniture and appliances.
Keep heavy furniture secured and anchored to the wall so that they won’t topple over. Cover all electrical outlets and keep electrical cords out of reach. Anchor flat-screen TVs with additional straps so that they won’t fall down.
Child-proof every area of your home.
Lock toilet seats or better yet, lock your toilet door.
Keep chemicals, toiletries, moth balls and small household appliances out of reach by putting them in an upper cupboard or cabinet. Remove mobiles and hanging fixtures and prop up your blind’s cords.
Use window guards and install safety netting for your windows. This is especially important if you are living in the upper floor or at an apartment.A child’s finger can get stuck in between a closing door or window.
Child-proof them by putting foam support or just close and secure them completely. Put up stair guards and covers at your stair’s top and bottom. Stairs are dangerous, keep them out of your child’s reach up to about 24 months of age.
Dress your little crawler properly.
At least keep his or her knees covered and protected whenever he is crawling outdoors. Unless your baby has a history of allergy, a small amount of dust and dirt will not do him any harm. Don’t use baby clothes with drawstrings.
Be extra cautious in the kitchen.
Keep food and drinks away from table edges. Turn pot handles away, facing the wall. Secure your refrigerator, oven door and cabinets under the sink.
Don’t carry hot food while caring for your baby and don’t ever try to cook if baby is on the floor. Keep trash cans at inaccessible areas out of reach by your curious crawler.
Watch your pets!
Keep an eye on your dog, cat or smaller pets. If you are unsure, put them in a cage. Babies can easily be enticed by an aquarium or a hamster cage; you may keep them in view but definitely out of his reach.
Look for pet or pest droppings as your little one might pick and eat them.
When To Contact Your Child’s Doctor?
There are some disorders that may affect a child’s motor skills. The gross motor skills delay can be due to an infant or a mother’s illness or injury during pregnancy.
Muscular dystrophy, genetic disorders, cerebral palsy and other rare inborn neurological conditions may also cause a delay of some developmental milestone.
A child with a delay on motor skills development may not be able to cope up with kids his age. It helps to be able to discern the signs early on so intervention and correction can be started early.
How can you spot if something is off with your child’s development?
- Contact your child’s pediatrician if at six months, your baby has yet to wriggle his legs or arms or if he is unable to lock his knees and put his feet down during practice stands.
- Your child appears to not have enough energy to sustain his crawling pursuits. It may be due to low muscle tone, early exhaustion or some other medical reasons.
- You may also seek advice with a pediatric orthopedic if your child’s legs appear curved in an awkward angle or if his feet looks like it is permanently turned inward.
- At five months, it is expected that a child has gained full control of his neck muscles. As such, head control must already be established. The head must be in line with the body when your child attempts to sit up. If this is not the case, then this is something that must warrant your doctor’s attention.
- At seven months, your child must at least be able to push up his upper body with his hands. Gross motor ability of upper body should have been established by now, otherwise, this might be a sign of delay
- Sitting unsupported is expected for babies at eight months. By this time, your child should have already mastered control of his upper body.
- If at 11 months, your baby appears to favor just one side during movements, or use his arms to pull himself upright, it may be a sign of a neurological problem or a joint disorder. Ask for your doctor’s advice from time to time to check for other causes of delay on your child’s development.
Shoe Or No Shoe?
You might be tempted to buy some shoes for your baby. Let me tell you that there is no need to hurry. If the weather is not too cold, barefoot is the best for your child.
Invest on a good shoe only once he is already walking confidently.If you are going outside, have your child wear a shoe that is soft and flexible enough. Shoes with nonskid soles and without arch support is the best for kids under one year old.
You are doing your child’s feet a lot of favor by letting nature take its own course. A child’s feet must touch a firm surface all the time so that he may learn how to use his feet’s muscles. A child’s feet, including its natural arches, develop faster without artificial support.
Kids can outgrow shoes in a few months’ time so it is not wise to invest in a lot of pairs of just one shoe size. Likewise, tight shoes can injure your baby’s toes, it may also result to hammertoe wherein the toe joints coil under.
There must always be an allowance of at least a quarter of an inch to allow your child’s feet some room to grow.
Take It Easy
Don’t sweat too much, some kids are early movers, while some are just born laid-back. Refer to the guidelines above to check if your child is lagging in terms of his milestones.
Otherwise, there is no need to push your baby to attain growth faster. Like an egg that will rightly hatch on its own time, you can’t force your child to speed up his growing process. Our children are precious and special, let them grow on their own time, in their own unique ways.