baby crawling on a toki mats play mat

How to Encourage Your Baby to Crawl

April 18, 2022

As parents, we can’t help but obsess over our baby’s milestones. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t frantically Googled everything our baby should be doing by 3 months, then 6 months, and so on. This whole “raising a human” thing? Oh, yeah, we’re all basically winging it as we go, and one of the ways we make sure our baby’s development is on track is through milestones. From their first social smile to the day they take their first steps, these milestones are markers of significant points in their infancy. One of the major ones? Crawling.

Perhaps only second to walking, crawling is one of those big moments that many parents anxiously await. It starts with those funny, coordinated arm-and-leg movements that look like your baby trying to swim. Then comes the army crawling—the silly but effective way they drag their belly across the floor to get from Point A to Point B. Along with army crawling, your baby will rock back and forth on their hands and knees as a precursor to actual crawling. As soon as you see it, you think, any day now! The house gets fully baby-proofed and you prepare yourself for the day that your little one does the real, hands-and-knees speed-crawling. But what if that day never comes? Although it’s easy to get wrapped up in this particular milestone, it’s actually very common and normal for babies to skip the crawling stage entirely. Still, that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its benefits. So, if it looks like your baby is more interested in walking than getting around on all fours, it’s worth doing what you can to encourage them to crawl.

When do babies start to crawl?

Although every baby is different, many babies typically start to crawl between 7 and 10 months. Some may be earlier or later than this timeline, while others skip it and go straight to walking. Some babies may go right into the traditional crawl on their hands and knees, others may army crawl on their bellies, and some simply scoot their butt over to their destination. Crawling is no easy feat. It has taken your little one their entire life to build the necessary skills that lead to crawling on all fours. Remember all those minutes of tummy time that you and your baby diligently logged? It may not have been easy at first, but it has paid off immensely. Your baby’s perfect head and neck control is all thanks to those days spent on their play mat, belly-down. Tummy time leads to pushing up off the floor, which builds the muscles necessary for rolling, crawling, and independently sitting up. To learn the importance of tummy time, read our blog post here.

Is crawling a necessary step in development?

Ah, the great debate—is crawling necessary? Just a few months ago, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) quietly updated their developmental milestone guidelines for the first time since 2005. One of the biggest changes? Crawling was entirely removed as a milestone. This was met with as much controversy as one would expect. While some experts maintain that crawling is very necessary to childhood development, others claim that skipping it is no big deal. Although it’s still unclear if skipping crawling is cause for concern, it can’t be denied that it’s certainly normal. After all, many babies never crawl.

But, it also cannot be denied that crawling comes with many benefits for your baby. Crawling helps develop the vestibular and balance system, sensory system, cognition, problem-solving skills, as well as coordination. The coordination that crawling requires helps the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other, enhances depth perception, and builds reflexive strength. There are many physical, mental, and cognitive benefits of crawling.

If your baby is showing no interest in crawling, there’s no need to despair. Yes, crawling is wonderful for their brain, but those benefits don’t stop once your little one reaches a certain age. If your baby wants to walk first? Let them. There’s no rule that says a baby has to crawl before they walk. If walking comes first, there’s no need to put a stop to it. Since crawling is good for all ages and abilities (yes, even adults!), you can get down on your hands and knees and lead the way!

baby crawling on toki mats play mat

How can I encourage my baby to crawl?

1. Demonstrate it yourself. Remember how crawling benefits adult brains, too? Get down on the floor and crawl around for your little one to mimic. Babies are born copycats and their favorite people to copy are their parents. If your aching knees are protesting (welcome to adulthood), it’s worth investing in one of our Epic size mats. With 5’x7’ of springy, padded space, there’s plenty of room for both you and your baby to crawl around.

2. Get a tunnel. Babies are curious creatures and tunnels are so very inviting. A brightly colored tunnel like this one is perfect for enticing your little one to crawl through. If they need extra motivation, place a toy or snack at the other end.

3. Use a nursing pillow. If you have a nursing pillow, you can place your baby over it so that they are propped up. By elevating their middle body, they are forced to be on their hands and knees, and it helps them feel out the position and weight distribution. Pro tip: Get an adorable cover like this one if your pillow is dirty and milk-stained.

4. Keep toys out of reach. If your baby is already somewhat mobile and army crawling, they may just need a little motivation to get them to the next step. Army crawling may get them from Point A to Point B, but it isn’t efficient, and your baby can quickly learn that. With time, practice, and incentives, your baby can graduate from army crawling to proper crawling.

5. Limit their time in walkers and bouncers. The best way to get your baby to crawl is to give them plenty of time on the floor. Laying on the floor gives them self-awareness and lots of room to move. Babies who don’t spend a lot of time on the floor may take longer to build the necessary muscles to crawl. Walkers, bouncers, swings, and seats may keep your baby entertained and content, but prolonged use can also lead to motor delays.

baby reaching for toy on toki mats play mat

One of the hardest parts of parenthood is trying not to compare your baby to others. It can be discouraging when your baby is “behind” for certain milestones, while their peers have already reached theirs. If your baby’s pediatrician isn’t worried, you shouldn’t be either. Because crawling benefits your child at any age, there’s no need to feel pressured or discouraged if your baby isn’t crawling by 10 months. Instead, do your best to encourage them to use all their limbs to move independently, and remember that all babies develop at their own pace.

How to Encourage Your Baby to Crawl

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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