Crawling Baby

Every day you can see your baby growing, learning and becoming more independent. So it's natural to wonder when your little one will start to crawl.

There’s no definitive age at which your baby will reach this milestone. But it's good to know when and how you may be able to encourage and help your baby along the road to independence and becoming a toddler.

Watching and helping your baby master this new skill is one of the major joys of parenting in this first year. The moment your little one ‘gets that hang of it’ is one you’ll remember for a long time.

Read on to learn how to spot the signs that your baby is preparing to crawl, find out when babies typically start crawling, what different crawling styles there are and what to do if your baby doesn’t crawl as expected.

At What Age Do Babies Start Crawling?

Most babies start crawling sometime between the age of 7 and 10 months, but every baby is unique so your little one might be on the move a little earlier or later than this.

Keep in mind, some babies don’t crawl in the classic sense at all, but just get around by shuffling on their bottom.

All babies grow and develop at their own pace. Yours will start crawling when he or she is ready. Try not to compare your child to other babies. If you’re wondering whether your baby is on track, talk to your health visitor or doctor.

Help Your Baby Start Crawling

Before your baby can begin, he or she will need to develop some motor skills and strengthen those muscles that are needed for crawling.

Most importantly, your little one needs to feel comfortable playing on his or her tummy. To crawl in the classic way, your baby also needs to be able to push him or herself up into an all-fours position, supported on the hands and knees.

A great way of helping your baby develop the muscles and coordination to do this is to make sure he or she gets plenty of tummy time.

This is something you can start doing right after birth. As the name suggests, tummy time basically involves letting your baby lie on his or her tummy for a while. It’s best to start with just a few minutes a day at first, then build up gradually as your baby’s back and neck muscles grow stronger.

When your baby becomes more active, you can introduce toys and rattles for them to play with while he or she is on her tummy.

Never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time, and always put your little one to sleep on his or her back.

What Are the Different Types of Crawling?

You might be surprised to learn that there is not just one way to crawl, but many! Here are some of the most common crawling styles your baby might adopt when he or she starts crawling:

  • Classic crawl. This may be what first springs to mind when you think of crawling: Your baby crawls on the hands and knees, moving one arm and the opposite knee forward simultaneously.

  • Commando crawl. Your baby moves forward with the elbows, keeping the belly and legs on the floor.

  • Bottom shuffle. Your baby shuffles forward on his or her bottom, sometimes with the help of an arm.

  • Sideways shuffle. Your baby shuffles sideways on his or her bottom with the help of an arm, a leg or both.

Baby crawling styles

Your baby may even invent his or her own style, so there’s usually nothing to worry about if your little one’s crawling doesn't look like any of those shown above.

Keep in mind that your child will find it easier to crawl on a grippy surface like a carpet or rug. If you have a smooth wooden or laminate floor, your baby may be more likely to bottom shuffle.

How to Teach Your Baby to Crawl

Your child will only start crawling when he or she has built up the strength and coordination this takes, but there’s loads you can do to help your baby develop these skills and encourage exploration.

Here are a few ideas to help encourage your baby to crawl:

  • Keep on giving your baby plenty of free time to play in a safe space on the floor, including lots of tummy time

  • Place toys or other favourite items just out of reach to encourage him or her to move forwards, or to turn from a sitting position to grab hold of it

  • Set up an obstacle course with boxes or tunnels – or even just your arms – for your baby to crawl through

  • Blow bubbles while your baby is on his or her tummy and encourage him or her to try to pop them as they float past.

The aim of these exercises is to get your baby excited about learning to crawl and see it as a new adventure. To help develop the coordination needed for crawling on all fours, you could try this exercise:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back supported against a wall or other solid surface

  2. Put your baby down on his or her tummy across your outstretched leg

  3. With your leg still under your baby’s tummy, help him or her into a crawling position with legs bent and the knees and the palms of the hands on the floor

  4. Rock your baby gently back and forth on his or her hands and knees. This will help him or her get used to the shift in weight from the knees to the hands.

  5. Sing a song like ‘See-Saw Margery Daw’ in time to the movement to make this game even more fun for your little one!

Crawling Safety

Here are some things to do or keep in mind as your little one shows signs of becoming more mobile:

  • Never leave your baby unattended except in a cot or other safe place. If he or she might start crawling soon you need to be extra vigilant.

  • If you haven’t done so already, this is also a great time to babyproof your home. As part of this process, make sure that dangerous items are locked away and that furniture that can tip over is secure so your baby can’t get in harm’s way once he or she can move independently.

  • If you have stairs in your home, you can eventually teach your baby to crawl up and down them, but always under close supervision. Never leave him or her unattended near stairs, and install baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs as part of your baby proofing.

What If Your Baby Doesn’t Crawl as Expected?

Just like every other baby, your little one is developing at his own pace. Try not to think in terms of ‘my baby should have started to crawl by now.’

Experts recommend encouraging the classic style where possible, but every child is unique and it’s not usually helpful to force things if your baby doesn’t crawl exactly how you’d expect.

Instead of crawling on all fours, he or she may use another way to get around, such as bottom shuffling or the ‘commando crawl’. Some babies skip crawling altogether.

Usually, there’s no cause for concern as long as your baby is learning how to coordinate his or her arms and legs. The eventual goal is to learn how to walk, so try not to focus on how he or she is crawling in the meantime.

Of course, if you feel your baby is not moving properly or seems to be using one side of his or her body more than the other – or if you have any other concerns – speak to your doctor or health visitor.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Most babies start crawling sometime between around 7 and 10 months, but every baby is unique so it’s hard to say precisely when yours will get moving. You can help your little one get ready for that day by giving him or her plenty of tummy time to develop muscle strength and coordination.
  • Your baby will be ready to start crawling when he or she has built up the necessary muscle strength and coordination. One sign of this could be if your little one starts to rock back and forward on his or her hands and knees.
  • Yes. Many babies develop a crawling style such as the ‘bottom shuffle’ or the ‘commando crawl’. This isn’t usually anything to worry about, but if you’re concerned about your child’s movement or coordination, speak to your baby’s doctor or health visitor.

When your baby starts crawling he or she will be able to see and explore his world in a new and different way. You’ll get a thrill, too, from watching your little one enjoy this new-found freedom.

Enjoy this special time. Crawling is a new adventure for your baby, and the best is yet to come! Before long, your baby will be ready for a new challenge and start working up to those tentative first steps.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.