According to the ‘Journal of Nonsense’, babies can start crawling by 3 days. Haha. Just kidding. But there are some real world baby record setters (some are a bit ridiculous, to be honest).
The real answer to the question of when do babies start crawling is…when they are ready! Not very helpful, huh?
The average age for babies to crawl is around 7 to 10 months. However, a few rare babies may start crawling by 3 months.
On the other extreme, some babies keep their parents waiting and don’t start crawling till they are 17 months!
We remember meeting a parent whose daughter did not start crawling till she was 14 months. They looked embarrassed as they shared this but is there any reason to feel bad?
NO! Babies have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some babies sleep through the night easily. Some babies learn to speak faster. Some babies breeze through potty training. Some babies are simply ‘marine babies’, an endearing term we use for babies that achieve physical milestones very quickly.
But should you be worried?
Are you worried about your baby who is not crawling yet? We have all been there!
We remember the stress and the worry when one of our little ones was still not crawling in comparison to babies of his age. Our baby is now crawling like a champion and it’s almost hard to believe that we were so worried.
However, we were right to be slightly concerned. While it’s true that all babies eventually learn to walk, it’s not true that all babies eventually learn to crawl. Some babies don’t ever crawl and skip straight to walking.
While a child who skips crawling is going to do fine in life anyway, there are some advantages for your baby to acquire crawling skills.
According to occupational therapists, there are many benefits of crawling including:
- Developing central core stability.
- Building upper body strength including strengthening hands, wrists, shoulders and arms.
- Improving hand, eye and leg coordination.
- Developing depth perception.
- Aligning spine.
- Practicing the shifting of weight.
- Developing balance.
12 Month Crawling Check
A milestone to look for is 12 months. If your baby is still not showing any signs of crawling by 12 months, it is time to call your pediatrician to have a discussion about it.
Why Your Child May Not Be Crawling…Yet
OK, so you are sold on why you should encourage your child to crawl. But that doesn’t change the fact that he or she is not doing so!
There could be several reasons why your child may not be crawling yet.
The usual reason is your child’s personality. Your child may be more laid-back or just simply happy with the way things are. We know that our child was like that. He was content to be carried around…he felt no reason for things to change.
- Lack of tummy time
Some parents like to place their child in a sitting or standing up position once they are able to keep themselves steady. Even though your child may complain less, it’s really important that you continue to let your child spend time on his or her tummy. Tummy time not only strengthens your child’s muscles to aid in crawling but also encourages your child to move since remaining on one’s tummy for a long time is not particularly comfortable. Your child is more likely to resort to crawling motions in that position compared to other positions such as sitting up.
- Not given opportunity
Maybe your child hasn’t really been given much opportunity to stretch out on the ground and crawl. We will never point fingers at parents (we totally get how crazy being a parent is and we do believe that you are doing the best that you can!) but we are going to put this out there for you to evaluate for yourself anyway.
This can be the case if your child is in a baby carrier or car seat a lot of the time. Or perhaps your child is the youngest sibling of several kids and you are just barely managing with keeping up with everyone’s schedule, let alone have time to work with your youngest baby during tummy time.
Sometimes, certain parents are more anxious than others about dirt on the ground. Because of this, they tend not to leave their child on the ground to give them an opportunity to try out new movements such as crawling.
We are not saying that you should leave your child on a dirty surface but do find safe, flat and clean surfaces for your child to be left on.
We know some parents who are constantly carrying their child around. With such an amazing transport system, why would the child ever want to learn to crawl? Crawling is hard work! You may have to endure some fussing and wailing as your child needs to feel dissatisfied enough to crawl to get what he or she wants.
- Lack of space
It is also important that your child feels that he or she is in a safe environment to crawl in. If your child is frequently in a crib or other cramped space, he or she is less likely to want to crawl.
Another reason is that toys and other desired objects are always within reach. Our child was only persuaded to crawl because we placed new, exciting items out of his reach on purpose!
- Hard ground
Is the surface your child on hard, scratchy or slippery? The more uncomfortable the crawling surface, the less likely that your child will be motivated to crawl. If you live in a tiled space, try adding a mattress or non-slippery foam material on the floor to provide a more comfortable crawling space.
- Physical issues
Your baby may just be a late crawler, but there can be physical issues to watch out for. In fact, a study showed that late crawlers may be a sign of developmental delays that could affect their progress in school.
If your baby is not meeting other developmental milestones, does not seem to have enough strength to move around or your baby’s legs seem to be too stiff to crawl, you should definitely go seek advice from your baby’s pediatrician.
If there is nothing really serious, you may simply get a referral to an occupational therapist who can suggest exercises or games for you to play with your child.
Or even better, perhaps your child just needs some motivation to get going.
If you would like some ideas on how to help your child learn to crawl, we have 11 tips for you.