It’s not uncommon for parents to think that their baby should have started crawling by now. I often get questions from parents who are worried that their baby is not crawling yet. They often wonder if this is a normal developmental milestone or whether something is wrong with the child. As it turns out, it’s perfectly normal for babies to start crawling at 13 months or more. After all, the average age for babies to start crawling is between nine and fifteen months of age.
But since when do babies even start trying to crawl?
To understand why babies start crawling on average at around 13 months old, it’s essential to know what makes up the developmental milestone called “crawling .” After all, babies do a lot more than just “crawl” during the first year of life. They get on their hands and knees (cruising), they stand up, holding onto something for support, and they may even walk alone for short distances before crawling. And while I always advocate that parents track their baby’s development in a simple baby book, the experts tell us that it isn’t necessary to do all this tracking in such detail. So, suppose you have a baby girl who hasn’t started crawling by 13 months of age but seems otherwise normal and healthy. In that case, there’s no need to rush out and start scheduling visits with pediatricians or developmental specialists just yet.
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Crawling as a developmental milestone
As I’ve already said, crawling is just one of many developmental milestones that mounds up to make up what we tend to think of simply as crawling. It’s a milestone that babies reach when they start to move around on their hands and knees. But the motor skills involved in crawling don’t show up until your baby is somewhere between 8 1/2 months of age and 15 months old (with the average age being about 13 months.) While most children can sit with support by six months, they may not crawl until several months later.
Why do babies start crawling so late?
There are a lot of reasons why your baby might not be crawling yet. A new study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder found that parents who put their babies in playpens with mesh sides had children who started crawling earlier than those babies who were allowed to roam freely around the house.
If your baby hasn’t started crawling by 15 months or so, it’s unlikely that there is anything wrong with him. One study out of the USA found that babies who start crawling later also tend to walk later than their more intelligent peers. So if your baby isn’t crawling yet, don’t worry yourself about whether or not he will be able to walk by his first birthday or whether he may need physical therapy. He’ll probably start walking when he’s good and ready, just like the rest of us did.
What happens if my baby doesn’t crawl by 18 months?
If your child hasn’t started crawling by 18 months, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your pediatrician. S/he will be able to look at the way your baby holds her head and neck when she sits, your baby’s muscle tone, and her posture to see if any underlying physical issues could be causing the delay. She might also suggest that you begin working with your child on an excellent crawling position as soon as possible for her to become familiar with it and start to practice using it more often.
But, on the other hand…
There are a few conditions that can delay your baby from starting to crawl. These include cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and an injury to the brain. Make sure that you talk with your pediatrician if your baby isn’t crawling by ten months of age to rule out any physical issues or developmental disabilities. Even though infants start to crawl at around 13 months, they don’t always do it on their schedule. So, if your daughter isn’t crawling by 14 months and she hasn’t started walking yet, it’s lovely to start working with her on how to get around on her hands and knees. The same goes for otherwise normal children but have other reasons why they haven’t started crawling, such as being born prematurely or weighing too little at birth.
How to help babies learn how to crawl
If your baby has been rolling around on her stomach for a while but still hasn’t figured out how to move herself along her hands and knees, you can begin working with her to develop this new skill. Start by lying down on the floor next to her or placing yourself in front of her and putting a toy that’s just out of her reach on the floor. When she reaches for it, help her get onto her hands and knees so she can crawl after it. You can also move your arms slowly in front of her body as you lie or sit next to her. If she tries to grasp your hands with her own, encourage her to follow them as you move them. If she’s having trouble getting from the crawling position onto all fours because of weak muscles in her arms and legs or a tendency toward hypotonia, physical therapy can help. If your child is otherwise healthy and shows normal muscle tone, then just encourage her to practice getting on all fours for as long as she wants. As her strength improves, so will her crawling ability. And don’t worry if she crawls up the stairs or seems to be making diagonal lines during her crawls. This type of crawling can help your baby learn to coordinate her arms and legs before she starts alternating movements, which usually happens around 13 months.
How long should babies be encouraged to crawl?
Even though most children learn to walk by 11-14 months, many continue to practice crawling for quite a while afterward. Please encourage your child to roam around on her hands and knees as much as she wants until she’s ready to stand up and start walking. Walking may seem like a much more efficient way to get around, but crawling is a perfect way for your child to strengthen her legs and back muscles and develop her balance.
Crawling is one of the first milestones that your child will reach in his development, and it can also be a lot of fun for babies to do. So don’t worry if he doesn’t reach this milestone on his schedule or even at all. There are a few reasons why babies might crawl later than other children, and it’s essential to get advice from your pediatrician if you’re worried. Don’t stop encouraging your child to practice his new skill just whether he reaches this milestone early or late.
Now we would like to hear from you!
Has your baby started crawling yet?
Either way, let us know in the comments below; we are always happy to hear from you.