When Do Babies Start Crawling?

When do babies start crawling? When should our baby be crawling? Or rolling over, or something? I remember wondering about this sort of thing when Kit was a bit younger. Actually, I thought he’d be crawling around by about four weeks old. Not because I’m that stupid, but because I had ridiculously high expectations.

He actually started holding his head up and looking around pretty confidently within a week or two, he could bear his weight on his legs before much longer. He loved bouncing up and down. So, naturally, waking by four months old was my prediction.

I guess every new parent does this (right!?), but I wasn’t disappointed when I was wrong. I probably just moved the goalposts in my mind. But I know I had fairly unrealistic expectations to begin with.

By now, Kit is crawling and I feel it will be a matter of days before he’s walking (and talking too) but, once again, I’m probably over-estimating his development. Whatever.

First time

I do remember the day he started crawling, however – I was sat on the green armchair, watching him do his thing.

He had been getting up on all fours for a few days, and prior to this he had been able to do this silly backwards shuffle which meant if he saw something he wanted he would get further and further away from it until he was backed up under a chair or a dresser. Then he would shout and cry till we rescued him.

Anyway, he was up on all fours, doing this weird bouncing thing, when all of a sudden he seemed to simply decide to try putting one knee in front of the other and voila, he was crawling.

It seemed to really wind him up to begin with, and his first dozen or so crawls would be accompanied by crying and shouting. He soon got used to it though, and now, a few weeks later, he can crawl pretty much anywhere he wants, and gets everywhere we don’t want him going. He can already pull himself up to standing, and I think he’s going to start climbing soon too (!).

So when will baby learn to crawl?

Baby will learn to crawl, or to otherwise get around, in most cases by about 9-11 months. Some babies never get around to crawling – maybe your little one will roll around like a little barrel, or slither like a chubby snake, or scoot around on his little bum like… Like a dog with uncomfortable anal glands. Okay, that analogy leaves something to be desired.

The point is, not all babies crawl, in fact some babies will go straight to standing and walking, although more often than not they’ll go through some other stage of mobility.

Kit started out rolling everywhere and shuffling backwards, before managing to get on to his hands and knees, which led to him figuring out crawling.

Remember, every baby is different. Kit learnt to pull himself up and stand before he could crawl, while your baby might only stand after crawling.

Is there anything I should do?

Your baby will almost certainly progress through the various stages of development at his own pace, regardless of what you do.

Having said that, there is evidence to suggest that you may be able to help baby along by giving him tummy time from a young age.

What’s tummy time?

It’s really simple – provide the opportunity for baby to lie on his tummy and wiggle and waggle in that position. Provided that baby was born at full term and is otherwise healthy, you can start tummy time as soon as you get home from the hospital (or as soon as mum and baby are rested after the birth).

So, make a safe space for baby – maybe a soft, warm blanket, no hard objects to bang against baby’s little head, and so on – place him belly down on it and let him learn about.. well, moving and stuff.

Kit showing you how it’s DONE

Are you trying it right now? Is baby bawling? Yeah, tummy time’ll do that. Kit absolutely hated being put face down for the first several months. He was perfectly able to raise his head, but not for extended periods, so he would end up face planted on the floor

To begin with, he could cope with maybe fifteen seconds of it before he’d had enough. So we would put him down there, and desperately try to entertain him and prevent the inevitable rage for as long as possible – if you go down on their level, baby might enjoy it a bit more (hate it a bit less).

You can get down to baby’s eye level, and sing or make stupid noises (don’t be shy!) or tempt him with a toy. This should keep him interested for a little while.

Most sources suggest that you work up to about twenty minutes a day, but you should aim for this by four or five months old rather than hoping to get there immediately, as I did. A minute or two a couple of times a day will soon naturally extend to several minutes several times a day. It’ll work itself out, so keep trying.

We felt we were doing something wrong, since Kit didn’t like to do tummy time for any length of time until about that age, but actually it’s quite normal. Then suddenly, just like with crawling, one day he didn’t mind it so much.

Heads up

So this tummy time is supposed to give baby the opportunity to develop the strength and the co-ordination to push up on his little arms, and to raise his head. It also, as I alluded to above, helps to develop that core stability required for crawling and for walking. Once he’s used to tummy time, he might start rolling over and then rolling around the room.

Giving baby the opportunity to spend time in positions other than on his back also helps to decrease the likelihood of flathead (yes, where a baby has a flat spot on his skull – weird!) which can occur when baby spends too much time on his back.

Welcome to the jungle

Having said that, as well as tummy time, Kit spent loads of time waggling on his back. He would kick and punch like a total maniac, for five minutes at a time. When he was very young, the thing that really got him riled up was a Fisher Price Rainforest Gym – get a similar one here – and the rainforest musical mobile too. I guess he was just mad about the damage we do to the ecosystem.

So, while tummy time is very important, lying back can be fun too.

Thanks for reading, I hope this has been of some interest. The overall message is let baby develop at his own pace, crawling will happen naturally sometime between 7 and 11 months for most babies – sometimes not at all, some babies move around using other methods. Although tummy time may help, it may not – but it is still probably a good idea to get baby face down to help develop those motor skills just in case!

If your baby isn’t crawling yet, how does he or she cope with tummy time? Does baby like to spend time on his or her back? If baby is crawling, when did that happen? Did crawling come before standing, before sitting unaided? All babies develop somewhat differently, so it would be great to hear your stories!

Joe