Useful information on the steps involved in learning to crawl and how to ensure your house is safe for a crawling baby.
Learning to crawl is a key milestone in your baby's life.
Your baby will have already learnt to sit without support and roll; crawling is the next step. If you look at most formal developmental milestone and learning scales, you may find that crawling is left off of them. This is due to the wide range of times and methods babies may use to learn to crawl.
At about six to eight months most babies will learn to balance on their hands and knees. Babies work out how to move forwards and backwards from this position by pushing off with the knees. However some children never crawl because they get comfortable with some other method of locomotion. Instead they bottom shuffle, slither on their tummies or go straight to walking. It does not matter how your baby gets around, it is getting mobile that is important.
Crawling is your baby's first way of getting around by himself, it strengthens the muscles in preparation for walking, ensuring arm, leg, and back muscles are strong enough to keep him from falling on the floor.
At about nine to ten months your baby will work out that pushing off with his knees will give the boost needed to get mobile. As your baby gets better at this he will learn to go from a crawling position back to a sitting position. Your baby will also master moving one arm and leg from the same side. It will then be a case of practising and practising.
The best way to encourage crawling is to entice your baby to get from one place to another by putting toys or yourself just beyond his reach. You can create obstacles to negotiate with cushions or pillows, which will help improve confidence, agility and speed, though do not leave your baby alone, if he gets stuck you may undo the confidence gained if he gets frightened.
Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if your child has not shown an interest in getting mobile by some means (whether it's creeping, crawling, rolling, or scooting), worked out how to move his arms and legs together in a coordinated motion, or learned to use both arms and both legs equally by the time he is a year old, bring it up at your next doctor's appointment. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach this and other milestones several months later than their peers.
Crawling may not happen naturally if your child does not endure lying on his stomach. There is a technique which claims to help your baby crawl earlier (should you wish him or her to). In essence the technique makes your baby more tolerable to stomach lying.
- Step one place your baby on his or her stomach on a carpet on the floor.
- Step two gently hold your baby by the elbows and encourage supporting him or herself on elbows. Continue to provide support.
- Step three measure, or try to get some measure of the distance between the floor and your baby's armpit in the supported position.
- Step four get a roller with approximately the same diameter as you've just measured. Rollers are soft cylindrical shaped toys, preferably firm. The roller should be placed underneath your baby's upper body for support. It is important that you do not buy the roller too big. Your baby's elbows must still reach the floor when lying over the roller.
- Step five put the roller underneath your baby's upper body with elbows touching the ground in front of the roller. This supported position also allows your baby to lift his or her head and discover the surroundings.
- Step six get down on the floor directly in front of your baby, face towards your baby. Now let your baby look at your face while you talk to, amuse and encourage your baby to lift his head and take part in the conversation.
- Step seven step six is the most important step of this activity. And your baby will surely endure longer sessions and crawl sooner if it is enjoyable.
Remember, your baby should focus on you and naturally develop a sense of using both legs for support. In no time you will see your baby supporting the upper body on straight arms and bearing weight on both knees ready to crawl.
Spend three to five minutes daily, results will come even faster if you can do more than one session per day.
How to ensure your house is safe for a crawling baby
A newly mobile baby requires special safety precautions around the house.
Once your baby is on the move, baby-proofing the home becomes essential. The best way to spot potential dangers is to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around looking at your house from a baby's eye view. Do this just before your baby gets mobile, so you have enough time to get organised. Protect your crawling baby by:
- Checking floors for splinters or pins or other sharp objects stuck into floors or carpets.
- If your home was built before 1970, it could have lead-based paint on the walls or mouldings. As lead paint ages, tiny particles get into the dust and settle onto the floor. A crawling baby cannot help but get dust on his hands, and from his hands into his mouth.
- Fit covers to electric sockets.
- Cover video and TV controls with safety panels.
- Fit corner protectors to sharp corners of tables.
- Check for floor or table lamps that could be pulled over if your baby grabbed the cord.
- Avoid using a tablecloth on a dining table or coffee table as he may try to use it to pull himself up and drag everything down on top of himself.
- Remove small objects that could be choking hazards from low shelves. To be on the safe side, consider anything that will fit inside a toilet-paper roll to be a choking hazard.
- Removing all fragile items and lightweight freestanding objects, including plants.
- Check that internal glass doors are made from safety glass. If in doubt add a layer of safety film or consult a glazier who will be able to identify the type of glass and if necessary replace it.
- Fit and use stair gates, cupboard and drawer locks, especially on cupboards that contain cleaning products, china and glass, plastic bags, anything breakable or precious. Fit fridge and freezer locks and, where necessary, window locks and devices to prevent doors slamming on tiny fingers.
- If you cannot baby-proof your entire home, use gates across doorways to restrict your baby to rooms that are safe.
- Bathrooms and kitchens pose special dangers. Make sure a responsible adult is with your baby any time he is in one of these rooms.
- Even with the best precautions, the most important thing you can do to assure your crawling baby's safety is to keep an eye on him. For those times when you cannot, consider a playpen with some interesting toys handy.
- Be vigilant about washing machines and tumble dryers. Toddlers can open the door and get in - and then be unable to get out again.