Your newborn baby’s reflexes
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Rebecca Chicot PhD
Child development expert with a Phd from Cambridge University. She has worked on several best-selling books and BBC documentaries. She is the proud mother of three children.
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Physical development

When will my baby crawl?

Babies usually crawl between 6-10 months. Babies crawl in lots of different ways - sideways, front-ways, even shuffling on their bottoms.
Video Tutorial
In Short
Most babies crawl, although some go straight from sitting to walking.

Babies start crawling around 6-10 months.

Tummy time helps your baby to develop the strength and coordination they need to crawl.

If your baby’s crawl is always very one sided speak to your Doctor.

When should my baby start to crawl?

Babies usually start to crawl between 6 and 10 months – although it might be longer if they were born prematurely.

The process of learning to crawl is complex. Babies need sufficient brain development to be able to coordinate the movement of their arms and legs, and sufficient physical development in the muscles in their arms, shoulders, and legs to support their weight.

So the learning process can take a very long time.

Does it matter if my baby crawls sideways or backwards?

Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter. It’s really common for babies to be scooting backwards on their bottoms, crawling backwards, sideways and in all sorts of funny ways.

Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter. It’s really common for babies to be scooting backwards on their bottoms, crawling backwards, sideways and in all sorts of funny ways.

Here are the main normal ways babies start crawling:

  • Rolling around
  • Scuttling sideways
  • Commando crawling – on the belly
  • Not crawling at all, but going straight to walking
  • The “classic” – alternating hand on one side and knee on the other

There’s no right or wrong way to crawl. As long as a baby is making progress in his ability to use his body to get around, that’s what is important.

That said, if a baby ALWAYS favours one side, it might signal a neurological condition so you should get them checked over by a health practitioner.

son crawling in her father's hands on green grass

Can I help my baby learn to crawl?

Yes – you can help your baby to crawl by giving them lots of time out on a safe surface like a carpeted floor.

If they spend too much time in the pram, sling or baby cot they won’t get a chance to practice.

Encourage them by lying them on their tummy and putting a favourite toy a manageable distance away.

Tummy time

“Tummy time” is a great way to strengthen their muscles – you can do this by placing them tummy side down, on your thighs, with your legs bent as you sit on the floor. Have their little heads peeping out above your knees. Read our article on head control to see how it’s done.

A lot of people believe “Baby Walkers” are not a good idea for babies – they don’t let babies progress naturally when they’re ready to do so. It’s best for babies to learn to crawl and walk in their own time, as their brains and muscles are ready.

What do I need to think about when my baby can crawl?

You need to baby proof your home for safety’s sake!

Look around your home very carefully, room by room.

Any dangerous bottles, sprays, cleaners, poisons and so on need to be moved right up to a high cupboard out of reach.

Any sharp corners need to be softened – you can use specially bought products from nursery stores to do this – or make do with foam or tennis balls cut at the back and slid onto sharp corners.

Cupboards with anything you don’t want your baby to get at needs to be kept shut – you can buy special cupboard fasteners from nursery stores.

You will need to put stair guards at the top and bottom of your stairs.

Now your baby is more mobile, it’s a good idea to take the cot bumpers out (if you had them) and any big toys they could climb up on and fall out of the cot.

If my baby isn’t crawling at 10 months – a year should I worry?

Probably not but it depends on:

  • If your baby was premature, they will take longer to crawl. If they are particularly large or heavy they may take longer to get the muscle strength to crawl.
  • If your baby reaches a year old and hasn’t shown any desire to get moving, it’s probably a good idea to see your health practitioner.
  • If your baby is trying to crawl by a year but still can’t coordinate their arms and legs, it’s worth getting them checked out.
  • Again – If they are consistently lopsided on one side, it’s also worth getting checked.
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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.