Along with all the other milestones of infant growth, there is one that puts babies on the move for the first time - crawling. The need to explore the world of mobility makes your baby want to go beyond sitting:
Crawling is a precursor to walking, of course, but also primarily a way for infants to begin to explore their environment.
Most babies begin crawling somewhere between 6 and 9 months old. By this time, she will be sitting without support, and her major muscle groups will be strong enough to support her body.
From sitting, a baby will begin to pivot rock and go over onto her hands and knees. The strength necessary to crawl can be traced all the way back to the newborn days when she was placed on her tummy and slowly began to strengthen her neck, and then her arms and shoulders, as she pushed up for a better view.
The transition from sitting to crawling may occur gradually over several months. Some of the steps in between include learning to balance on all fours, rocking back and forth on hands and knees and eventually figuring out that pushing off with the knees will give them the forward motion they need to begin to crawl.
Choice of direction:
Not every baby crawls in the same manner, though. Some crawl forward, as typical, but some have their own methods. Crawling backward is probably the result of uneven muscle tone (arms a little stronger than legs), but that will soon right itself as the baby progresses in developing gross motor skills. They will soon shift from reverse to forward on their own with no intervention from parents. As long as they get moving in some way, they are perfectly normal, no matter which direction they choose to go first.
Incentives: Yes or no?
It can't hurt to give your baby some incentive to crawl. Making things too easy on them (always handing them toys they want, etc.) just encourages them to stay seated. Instead, find ways to encourage them to become active. Parents should place age-appropriate toys slightly beyond their child's reach when the baby is in a sitting position.
Take it easy:
Don't worry too much about pushing your baby to move on your time schedule. Every baby is different and unless there are specific developmental problems that your doctor has identified, there is nothing wrong with "slow development."
When to worry:
Actually, crawling isn't even listed as a major milestone in baby development. Some babies skip crawling and dive right into walking. Our in-house experts agree that crawling is not a necessary step in development, as long as the baby has some other way of locomotion. But as parents, be vigilant at 10 months if your child has not found a way to get around.
Exploring the environment is very important, whether by "cruising" around holding onto furniture, rolling, scooting, etc.
Watch out for these warning signs that may signal a need to talk with your paediatrician:
- Not exploring the environment in some way by 10 months of age
- Clearly favouring one side of his body
- Unable to coordinate her body in some way that allows both sides to work together
Make everything crawl-friendly!
Be prepared! Once babies are on the move, there's no stopping them. Here are some suggestions to keep things safe for your newly-crawling tot:
- Get on the floor and look at things from your baby's perspective.
- Remove any small objects from the floor (dropped coins under furniture, etc).
- Remove anything your baby might be able to pull, like phone cords, electrical cords or drape pulls.
- Safety-proof the entire house (cabinets, wall outlets, toilets).
- If you have stairs in your house, use gates in front of them at the top and bottom.
- Now that your baby is mobile, he may (and probably will at some point) end up where you don't want him to be. Be safe and baby-proof everything. More importantly, never leave your baby unattended.
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