Seeing your little one grow up right before your eyes is such an exciting adventure as you celebrate each and every milestone your baby achieves. Big on the list of expectations comes crawling, which parents often anxiously await as they busily child-proof their homes with giddy excitement. But what happens when crawling doesn’t come so easily to your little one? Thankfully, there are many activities to encourage crawling that can help get your baby moving in the right direction, in no time.
So, without further ado, let’s explore five great ways to teach your baby to crawl!
Five Ways to Encourage Crawling
The following are our top five tips for how to help baby crawl:
- Tummy Time
- Pique Their Interest
- Use Your Hands
- Be the Example
- Use Praise and Encouragement
We’ve got no doubt that you’ve heard it time and time again…tummy time is vital to your baby’s gross motor success.
To do it, gently flip your baby over and lay him or her flat on their stomach. From this position, your baby will instinctively attempt to lift his or her head, consequently strengthening their neck, back, arms and torso in the process. You can begin this process even as early as a few days old.
Is your baby not loving tummy time? Try propping your baby up by rolling up a towel or soft blanket and resting your baby’s chest on top of it. Carefully tuck the end of the towel or blanket under their armpits for additional support.
Next, place a few toys or eye-grabbing objects in front of him or her for added stimulation, or read a book full of colourful illustrations.
Although tummy time is safe and is vitally important to your baby’s continued physical and gross motor success, it is equally important to ensure that your baby is comfortable and safe during the tummy time process.
If your baby seems to be in severe pain, seems uncomfortable or has unstable and hazardous objects within reach, it may be best to give your baby a break and try again at another time.
Allow Freedom of Movement
This could easily be one of the most important concepts to teach a baby to crawl.
Rather than putting your baby in expensive gizmos and gadgets, it really is best to allow for freedom of movement. By placing your child in restrictive walkers, bouncers, carriers and other contraptions, you are inadvertently robbing your little one of the chance to strengthen his or her core muscles as he or she naturally would if they were on the floor.
To foster natural muscle strengthening movement, simply place your baby on a large, soft blanket and put a few of his or her favourite toys, teethers, dummies or books around them. Your baby will do the rest. Over time, your baby will develop the strength necessary to move on to bigger and better things…like crawling and walking about the house!
Pique Their Interest
As previously mentioned, when it comes to encouraging baby to crawl, finding activities, toys and gadgets to pique their interest can do wonders.
To make it work, set your baby up in sitting position or lay them flat on their belly, and place a toy or other object that they love just outside of their reach.
If you have the child sitting up when you do this, you’ll likely notice that your child grabs the object by twisting, turning, and consequently, ends up on their hands and knees to get to the object you’ve placed out of reach from them.
If your baby is laying down, the concept is the same, however, your baby will have the option to roll, “army” crawl, scoot or choose another means of getting to the object, all of which is a major win when it comes to helping your baby learn to crawl.
A word of caution when placing these fun and engaging toys and objects out of reach, and that is, to ensure that you aren’t placing these objects too far out from your child’s grasp.
You’ll want to make it enough of a challenge that your baby has to move towards the object of interest to some degree, but you also don’t want to make it so difficult of a challenge that your baby gives up.
For a visual idea of what work along with a few other ideas, check out this video composed by a child development specialist on ways that she was able to encourage her own baby to crawl.
Use Your Hands
You’ve got two free hands, why not put them to use? As your baby lays on the floor or makes attempts at crawling motions on their own, use your hands to carefully guide your baby’s feet and legs in a crawling motion to get them used to the feeling.
Is your baby already on all-fours, or at least attempting to move his or her legs independently? If so, use your hands to apply pressure to the back of your baby’s feet to provide leverage for your baby to “push off” in order to get to that tempting toy, book or other object you’ve placed out of their reach.
Use Praise and Encouragement
Remember, your baby loves you and your approving smiles and cheers mean the world to them. Use this to your advantage by expressing how proud you are of your little one’s attempts to achieve one of the biggest milestones in his or her infant life. By clapping, praising and encouraging your little one to keep trying, you might find that you’ve got a little wanderer on your hands a little sooner than you expected!
Activities to Encourage Crawling: FAQs
What Are the Stages of Crawling?
The stages of crawling vary from baby to baby. In most instances, babies will begin to crawl between 6-10 months, with some doing it much sooner or much later within that spectrum.
Additionally, many babies may begin crawling by getting up and “rocking” on all fours before finally starting to creep. Oddly enough, some babies never get to this step, as some prefer to scoot along on their stomachs, roll to what they want, or master the “army” crawl by pulling themselves along by their elbows. Some even skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking!
With all considered, it is safe to say that babies crawl at their own pace and in their own way. So, don’t worry if your baby is on the latter end of the crawling spectrum. He or she will likely begin moving about in their own time!
What Comes First: Crawling or Sitting?
Generally speaking, sitting will come before crawling.
Having said that, many babies aren’t able to sit completely unassisted until about 9 months old. In that case, some babies may have already discovered alternative crawling methods, such as the army crawl, before they ever sat unassisted.
Can Babies Skip the Crawling Stage?
Contrary to popular belief, many babies can, and do, skip the crawling stage altogether.
In fact, crawling isn’t technically considered a critical milestone in the child development world, even if it is to us parents. That is because crawling isn’t actually an essential skill for learning how to walk. Nevertheless, studies have shown that crawling does play a key role in strengthening muscles and improving physical strength in the back, neck, fingers, hands and arms, and as such, still plays a major role in child development.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Baby Not Crawling?
If you notice that your baby isn’t making any true progress in his or her gross motor development, such as rolling, sitting up and the like, then it may be time to talk to a professional. But give it time.
Remember, babies crawl within a span of 6-10 months, and sometimes by 11 months, especially if the baby is bigger in size. If you aren’t seeing any signs of crawling towards the later end of the spectrum, a professional may be able to guide you on what steps to take next.
Also, be on the watch for one side of your baby’s body dragging or lagging as your baby uses the other side to pull him or herself along. This could be an indicator of a more serious issue, so talk to a pediatrician if you spot these sorts of movements in your infant.
How Can I Teach My 6 month Old to Crawl?
At 6 months old, your baby is likely sitting up and ready to explore the world.
Helping your baby learn to crawl at this stage can be as simple as placing a few toys just out of his or her reach, and thus, making your baby “work” to get to what they want.
Just remember not to place the toys too far away…doing so might result in a few tears, and your baby might give up early on. You can also try out a few of these fun games to kick your baby into gear… the opportunities are virtually endless!
How Can I Help My Frustrated Baby Crawl?
Sometimes, the act of crawling, especially when mum and dad are doing everything in their power to make it happen, can be exhausting for your little one. This can result in a grouchy little baby who is tired, frustrated and has given up on the task, even if his or her favourite toy is at stake.
It may be the case that your baby simply isn’t ready to crawl yet or that he or she hasn’t yet developed the muscle tone to do so.
To help with this, you may wish to try the wheelbarrow approach. Try laying your baby flat on their stomach and lifting their two legs in the air, similar to how you would lift the handles of a wheelbarrow. This might prompt your baby to push up on his or her hands, thus strengthening core, back and arm muscles.
If your baby is receptive to it, you can also begin walking your baby forward in this position…just like a real wheelbarrow!
If this doesn’t work, is awkward, doesn’t seem safe or isn’t well received by your baby, you could try elevating your baby’s back legs, instead of lifting them, with a couch cushion, pillow or a foam roller, if you have one.
The idea is to shift your baby’s weight so that he or she can get used to the feeling of bearing weight on their arms… a task they’ll need to achieve in order to effectively crawl on all fours.
It May Not Be Easy… But They’ll Get There, Eventually
To summarise, sometimes, teaching baby how to crawl is no small feat and will require time and patience before it is mastered.
If your baby is nearing 10-11 months old with no sign of crawling, and especially if there are no signs of rolling or sitting up, talk to your paediatrician to ensure that there isn’t an underlying cause.
If, at any time, your baby is in a compromised position or is unsafe while doing some of these activities to encourage crawling, you should end the exercise completely.
In the event that your child does incur a few bumps and scratches along the way, you can check our post for tips on how best to manage bumps on the head, as well as other first aid tips.
Remember, there are many babies who, because of their size, development and unique personality, won’t crawl until the latter end of the expected spectrum… and that’s okay! Whatever means you choose to help your little one along, just be sure to meet your baby with loads of patience, kindness and exuberant praise, and we are sure your little one will be crawling, and even potentially walking, in no time!
For even more info, take a peek at Healthline’s article on how to encourage your baby to crawl, as well as other methods of crawling that your baby may choose over the traditional all-fours crawling method.