When Do Baby Start Crawling?

"When do Baby start crawling?" is perhaps one of the baby development keyword phrases most frequently searched by parents. Whether you agree with the correctness of the search phrase grammar or not, parents have a problem and we'd like to find an answer.

The big debate continues even amongst professionals whether or not babies actually need to crawl to gain the perceptual and other development skills. I’m still old-school and believe they must master this milestone.

When do baby start crawling: Basics

Before we can go into the details we have to first agree on two things:

  1. Are we talking about the same thing when we refer to crawling? Stated differently, are we in agreement what ‘crawling’ looks like? And...
  2. We must agree at what point our baby’s movement is adequate to be considered that s/he is crawling.

What does crawling look like?

Professionals normally define proper crawling as the style of moving forward where our baby alternatively uses hands and knees and stands on all fours.

Let’s take this a little further: when we’re talking about alternative using of hands and knees, we’re specifically referring to diagonally across the body, sometimes also called “cross crawling” – that is, left knee & right arm, right knee & left arm.

Normal baby crawling is alternatively using both knees and arms

There are cases where babies crawl by simultaneously moving both arms forward and then simultaneously moving both knees forward – almost duplicating a ‘worm’ movement. This is not what we refer to as crawling.

Bear walking... is crawling using straight arms and legs

We often also find these other forms of ‘crawling’ which, strictly speaking, is also not crawling.

  • Bear walking... is crawling using straight arms and legs, but with the whole body raised off the floor
Commando crawling uses forearms, knees and lower legs mainly in tummy position
  • Commando crawling uses forearms, knees and lower legs and the baby is effectively still in tummy lying position. Slithering is also a very close variation of commando crawling.
  • Bum shuffling or scooting around – baby is in a sitting position and moves forward by using feet and buttocks

When is baby really crawling?

Based on many years’ observations I usually say that your baby is crawling when s/he moves forward using the correct technique… and it doesn’t matter if it’s initially only a very small distance.

When do baby start crawling: Arguments

Over many years I’ve very often found that folks argue and question the so-called age range when babies start crawling. Somehow they seem to think that this is some random age decided by a few observers.

The truth is that researchers studied the development of tens of thousands of babies and had the results statistically analyzed. This only means that the ages stated are based on how a ‘typical’ baby would develop – and we all know there isn’t such a baby. A ‘typical’ baby is often only a statistical singularity. Our children are very likely different.

But, having said that, so…

When do Baby start crawling: Stats

Firstly...

  • about 50% of all infants can "crawl" at 7 months;
  • about 75% can do so at 10 months and
  • 90% of all infants have mastered it at around 11 months.

So, what this means is that if your baby starts crawling before 7 months, his crawling skills have developed quicker than most other ‘typical’ babies the same age. On the other hand, if your baby only starts mastering crawling around 13 months, then his development is slower than the ‘typical’ baby of the same age.

We’ve also put together a Baby Development Chart which will also be very helpful to decide and answer for yourself when exactly your baby should start crawling. One of our other helpful crawling development articles, is this one.

Secondly...

Infants crawl when they've learned and fully mastered all the basic skills needed to crawl. These skills are not only neurological and a range of other skills, but they also need a certain amount of physical strength.

What this means is that your baby must have mastered and gained a certain number of skills and amount of strength before crawling can be learned.

When do baby start crawling: Hindrances

The lack of physical strength is one of the main reasons why I believe you don’t do your baby any favors if you carry him around the whole day. If you do, then surely you cannot expect your baby to develop physical strength at the same rate as others who spend time on the floor to play on their own. You’re effectively depriving your child of vital exercise time!

I therefore strongly suggest that you baby spends time on a plush or activity mat.

What if baby is very slow to crawl?

I often find babies of around 10-12 months… even older… who still do not crawl.

  • The first thing I do is to establish that there are no neurological problems or other obvious physical problems hindering crawling.
  • The second thing is to confirm how much the baby has been carried around by parents, friends and other family members. In the majority of cases where babies are slow to master crawling, they’ve rarely been given enough exercise time on the floor. In short, they weren’t given adequate time to exercise and build enough strength!

When do baby start crawling: Comments

Babies learn and develop by "doing" and repeatedly practicing certain actions. That’s how they learn most of their skills… some of these are necessary for crawling.

That is also the reason why giving your baby the right toys to play with works so well. It’s another fun way to get them to “do” specific learning actions.

What I particularly like about using props and toys is that it’s a fun way to encourage babies to perform certain desired actions… which are the ones we want to master the specific milestone. Here are a few ideas of what I’m referring to:

When Do Baby Start Crawling: Tips

Ok, I can already hear you ask…

“Is there anything I can do to speed up when my baby starts crawling?”
Yes… definitely.

Here are a few tips which may help change when Baby starts crawling:

  1. Read the 5P crawling article for a few practical tips to get your baby crawling… and then do them
  2. Consider getting a few stimulation toys to encourage the right learning activities
  3. Give your baby lots of time to “practice” crawling on his own. Give your baby time to play on the floor or suitable mat. I’ve used many different activity and plush mats over the years.
  4. If your baby isn't showing any signs of crawling around 11 months, seriously start to encourage and stimulate him to master this milestone. Also look at the explanation of how to read and understand the development chart to fully understand your baby’s development position.
  5. Discuss your concerns with your pediatrician

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When do baby start crawling >> Crawling