What’s the Big Deal about Crawling?

What’s the Big Deal about Crawling?Although it once was, crawling is no longer considered a critical baby milestone.  Some babies never crawl but rather find other means of mobility until they begin to walk.  However, there are certainly some benefits to crawling that will make life easier and more interesting for your baby.  Today we’re exploring the mechanics and advantages of crawling.

How does a baby learn to crawl?

Babies usually learn to crawl between seven and 10 months of age, although some may be outliers on either end of this spectrum.  Since the return of “back to sleep” where babies are put to sleep on their backs, the average age for babies to begin crawling has trended on the later side.

After lots of tummy time, your baby will have mastered holding his own head up and looking in both directions, as well as rolling.  He’ll be happily kicking and batting at things starting around three or four months.  And by six to eight months, he will be able to sit up without support.  This is around the time your baby will also discover that he can push up on his hands and knees for a taller view of the world.  From there, he’ll probably start rocking back and forth and then eventually propel his arms and legs forwards or backwards.

Some babies may start “crawling” in a different fashion, however.  Some babies stay seated and use their legs and arm muscles to scoot on their bottoms.  Other babies slide on their stomachs as their preferred mode of transportation.  And still others use one foot for a boost, making them look half crab-half baby.  All babies are different and any of these methods will work just fine.  Also, your baby may evolve from one type of crawl to another over time.

You can encourage your baby to crawl by offering lots of tummy time and muscle-building opportunities.  Crawling takes core strength in addition to arm and leg muscles.  Tummy time builds each of these areas.  Also, allowing your baby to reach for objects with his arms and legs will encourage movement and muscle growth.  When your baby shows readiness to crawl, create incentives like putting a toy just out of reach so he will want to move towards it.  The brighter, more colorful and more exciting the toy is, the more enticing it will be.  But do make sure you have baby-proofed by the time your baby is crawling!

Benefits of crawling

Crawling is a great stepping-stone for strengthening muscles even further, which will help with skills like walking, running and jumping.  But the psychological advantages go far beyond that.  Once your baby learns to crawl he can explore his world in an entirely different way.  He will be able to discover new things on his own, not just what you place in front of him.  He will have to navigate his surroundings and he will become much more aware of his environment, including that some things go well beyond what he originally thought.  Crawling is one of the first opportunities your baby can truly be goal-oriented, and he has to stay pretty focused to achieve his goals.  Plus, crawling allows your baby to experience a new range of emotions and intensifies your relationship too.

If you are concerned about your baby’s physical development because he is not crawling, you should talk to your pediatrician.  Your doctor probably won’t be concerned if lack of crawling is the only physical symptom your baby displays.  Like we already said, crawling is not really a milestone anyways.  If other physical delays present themselves, your pediatrician may want to explore further testing or therapies.