Ways to encourage crawling

Ways to encourage crawling

Ways to encourage crawling

And all of a sudden, your little one is up and about! With their newfound freedom, they’re exploring, getting into mischief, and needing MUCH more supervision. Learning to crawl is a pretty complex process and there are things that parents can do to help!



First, how do babies learn to crawl?

From between 6-10 months, babies are really starting to move around, this is when they also may start to learn to crawl. It’s important to remember that head and neck control, sitting up without support, and rolling all come before crawling. From here, babies might get up on to all fours and do some rocking back and forth. Sometimes they even seem like they get stuck in this stage for a few weeks. This is because babies need to coordinate the movement of their arms and legs, and develop the muscle strength in their arms, shoulders, and legs to support their weight.


If your baby is bigger than average, it might take them a little longer to figure out how to move around. Also if they are focused on learning other skills, like developing their language or fine motor skills, this can delay their focus on crawling.


Sometimes the first movement may even be a scoot backward as babies are learning how to do the arm-leg-arm-leg crawling before they learn how to move forward. It may get a little frustrating for them when they are going in the opposite direction that they want to be, but they will get the hang of it.



What types of crawls are there?

Learning to crawl may look different for each baby. Some more common ways babies learn to move include:

  • The “Classic Crawler”
    • Alternating hand on one side and knee on the other to go, go, go
  • The “Bear Crawl”
    • This looks like the classic crawl, but babies who do this keep their elbows and knees straight, walking on hands and feet like a bear
  • The “Crab”
    • Just like at the beach, the “crab” bends one knee and extends the opposite leg to scoot forward
  • The “Commando”
    • This crawler lies flat on her belly and drags themself forward using their arms
  • The “Rolling Wonder”
    • Who needs to crawl when rolling gets me where I need to go?
  • The “Bottom scooter”
    • Babies scoot around on their bottom using their arms to move forward
      • The “Take It in Stride” Kid
        • Some children skip crawling and go right to walking. No time to waste—here I come!


The most important thing is that a baby is making progress in their ability to use their body to get around.



How can I support crawling skills?

Each child will develop their crawling skills in their own time, but there are things you can do as a parent to increase motivation and opportunities to crawl. Giving your baby exposure to activities that encourage crawling will help get them there sooner and not only give them physical activity in their day, but also mental stimulation which helps build their curiosity, discovery, and adaptation. Our top tips include:

  1. Give your baby enough tummy time! Before they start crawling, they need to develop those head, neck and back muscles and get their arms and legs moving freely. Tummy time is how they do this!
  2. Encourage your baby to play with their arms in the air to help your baby’s muscles grow. Try putting their arms on top of a pillow or stuffed animal during tummy time or put their hands onto elevated objects (e.g. furniture or toys) while they’re sitting down. Just be sure to supervise so your baby doesn’t fall over!
  3. Help your baby develop their shoulder muscles by putting them in a “hands down” position. Try laying them over a cushion/foal roller and prop your baby’s lower body up in the air. You are forcing them to put their hands down on the ground. This will help them to feel and understand this position while supporting their body weight into their arms.
  4. Allow your baby to play on all sides. During playtime, try moving your baby into different positions and allowing them to play on all sides. An even mix of right side, left side, back, and tummy will help your little one’s body become strong and healthy.
  5. Reduce the time in supportive devices such as prams, jumpers, walkers and bouncers. These items provide so much support; your little one isn’t forced to use their own muscles to support their weight. This can lead to delayed development, so be sure to limit time in supportive devices.
  6. Give your baby some extra motivation. This may be something exciting for them to reach for
    1. A favourite toy or a new toy just out of reach (slightly to the left or right) with your baby in a sitting position. Allowing their bodies to turn will help them to transition from the sitting position to hands and knees
    2. A mirror in their view for them to explore
    3. Play tunnels
  1. Always put baby’s safety first. Ensure you have “baby-proofed” your house when baby starts to roll – remove small items from the floor, keep cords out of reach, lock cabinets and drawers, cover electrical outlets, etc. Also don’t make baby work too hard. Remember to be patient and if baby becomes agitated it’s okay to stop and start again when they are up to it. Give them lots of affection after crawling practice, it’s hard work for them!



When should I get help?

Not all babies crawl. Some go straight to walking and skip the crawling stage completely. If your baby is 12 months or older and isn’t showing signs of typical mobility development (such as rolling, shuffling, scooting along the floor), you should take them to your General Practitioner or to an Occupational Therapist. If your baby can’t complete any of these basic movements by the time they’re six or seven months old, seeking support is necessary.


Learn more about speech pathology or speech therapy for kids today!