An estimated 50% of babies start to crawl by the age of 8 months old. 

It’s not uncommon for parents to worry that their babies aren’t hitting certain developmental milestones. Trust us — we’ve all been there. However, it’s important for parents to understand when a baby is supposed to start crawling, because that can ease some of the stress they may feel.

So, when do babies crawl, and what signs will they display when they’re ready to start crawling? This guide will answer all of the questions and concerns that stressed parents may be feeling. Keep reading to learn more!

Do babies sit or crawl first?

While it may be surprising to hear, babies often discover crawling from learning how to sit! One day your child might be sitting...and all of a sudden they discover they can prop themselves up on their hands and arms. Parents can assist their child with sitting up, and help them build abdominal and back muscles before they crawl!

What are the signs that a baby is going to start crawling? 

The process of a baby learning how to crawl is complex, as they’ll need to learn to coordinate moving their legs and arms together. Plus, a baby has to develop the strength that they need to support their weight while they’re crawling. 

In any situation, if a parent is concerned about the development of their baby, it’s important that they consult with a pediatrician

Let’s take a closer look at the signs that a baby is going to display when they’re ready to start crawling:

1. Sitting up without needing support 

When a baby sits up without needing any support, it’s a sign that the baby develops the muscles, balance, and coordination that it needs to begin crawling by itself. As a baby continues to sit up more and more by itself, the baby will begin developing the core muscles needed to support itself while crawling. 

2. Spending a lot of time on the floor 

Another telltale sign that a baby is developing to move into the crawling stage is when a baby begins to spend more time on the floor than they do anywhere else. If a baby prefers to be on the floor than their favorite swing, the baby has the opportunity to work on refining the muscles and balance that they need to start crawling.  

3. Looking at far away objects  

Parents should also watch their babies to see if the baby is interested in far away items — they’re beginning to plot out their goals! If a parent notices that their baby is staring at faraway objects, this development in the baby’s attention will encourage them to start crawling.

4. Self-supported on all fours

Babies that can support themselves on all fours are going to start crawling soon. This development in their balance and strength will allow the baby to explore new areas. Even if the baby isn’t crawling yet, they may rock back and forth while they’re supporting themselves on all fours. 


When do babies crawl?

The average baby will begin to crawl between six to ten months old. However, many babies skip right over the crawling phase. The babies that skip over the crawling stage will typically start pulling up or walking

Parents can encourage their babies to start crawling by putting their babies on their stomachs. Putting a baby on its tummy will allow them to lift their head to look around. This exercise will encourage the baby to build strength in its arms, trunk, shoulders, and neck.

While a baby kicks its legs while on their tummy, they're building strength in their legs and hips. Keep in mind that not all babies like being put on their stomachs, so it’s important to provide the baby with stimulation to make laying on their tummy interesting. 

Parents can engage the baby while they’re lying on their tummy by placing the baby’s favorite toy just out of its reach. While that may sound mean, it actually encourages the baby to wiggle around to get the toy!


Learn the different crawling styles

It turns out there are numerous crawling styles that a baby will display. While many parents are aware of the classic style of crawling, most don’t know about these crawling styles:

  • Crab crawling: when the baby movies with one knee extended while the other knee is bent
  • Backward crawling: when the baby moves backward while they’re crawling
  • Scooting: when the baby drags their bottom across the floor
  • Commando crawling: when the baby lies flat on their belly while using their arms to move themselves forward 

All of these are different styles of crawling that a baby may display. If a baby displays one crawling style, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the baby without displaying the other. 


How parents can encourage their babies

There are many things that a parent can do to encourage their baby to become developed enough to begin crawling. 

As mentioned above, parents should give their babies plenty of time to lay on their tummies. However, parents should also focus on helping their babies to sit up. Aiding a baby to sit up will also help the baby to develop the muscles they need to begin crawling.

Parents should always be sure to protect their babies while their little one is experimenting with crawling. They should be sure to cover the baby in leggings or comfortable pants when they begin to crawl, as this will keep your child’s legs protected from scratches or rug burns.

Plus, parents should make sure that all breakables or other potential hazards are removed from the crawling baby's path (car keys — we’re looking at you). In addition, parents should also take the time to child-proof the area that the baby is crawling around to ensure that the child is entirely safe while learning how to crawl. 


Encouraging a healthy baby

So, when do babies crawl? A healthy baby will begin to crawl around six to ten months old. In the meantime, there are many steps that a parent can take to encourage their baby to begin becoming mobile on their own.

Are you interested in learning more about how to support the developmental health of your baby? We’re here to help you on your journey through parenthood.

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