It is hard to say when do babies start crawling because each child reaches developmental milestones at his or her own pace. In most cases, babies begin to crawl between the ages of 6 to 9 months or when they are able to sit independently, and have muscles in the neck strong enough to keep their head up and muscles in the legs, arms and back strong enough to keep the weight of the body when on their hands and knees. By the age of 9 to 10 months, most babies figure out that crawling offers them mobility and by the age of 12 months, they master moving forward and backward.
Crawling is an important milestone which is one step before complete mobility – walking. Crawling is soon followed by pulling up to a standing position and training first steps while holding onto furniture. However, it is important to keep in mind that some babies skip the crawling stage. They may move around by bottom-shuffling, rolling or slithering on the stomach and move directly to pulling up to a standing position. There is no need to be concerned if your baby does not show interest in crawling and uses other methods to move around.
Skipping the crawling stage by some babies is believed to be related to sleeping on the back which is heavily promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other national health organizations as one of the main SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) preventive measures. In addition to skipping crawling, the researches have also shown that babies tend to reach motor milestones later after the campaign “back to sleep“ to prevent SIDS has been launched in the 1990’s. However, the studies have also shown a dramatic decrease of SIDS after parents began putting their babies to sleep on their backs.
Since “back to sleep“ seems very effective SIDS preventive measure, you should always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. To encourage development of motor skills that are necessary for important developmental milestones such as crawling and walking, you can put your baby on his or her stomach when awake and alert to promote strengthening of the muscles in the neck, arms and legs. He or she may not like the tummy position at first, so make it fun by placing his or her toys or yourself in front of him or her just beyond his or her reach. This is also an effective way to encourage crawling. However, never leave your baby unsupervised while in the tummy or crawling position and make sure to childproof your home when your baby begins to show interest in crawling or moving around by using other means.
Although children tend to reach developmental milestones at their own pace, you are highly recommended to consult with your doctor if:
– your child does not show interest in any kind of mobility by the age of 12 months
– seems to have problems with coordinated movement
– does not move his or her arms and legs equally