When Do Babies Crawl And Different Types of Crawling
As a pediatric physiotherapist, a common concern amongst parents I work with is their baby’s ability to crawl…or lack thereof. Parents are often surprised with my response – in most cases, it doesn’t matter! If all other aspects of development are on track, there is no need to worry if your child is not doing the classic form of crawling. When do babies crawl? Some at 6 months, some by 12 months, and some never crawl at all. In fact, if I see a child who is 10 months old and not yet crawling, I recommend exercises to promote walking. At what age do babies crawl? Crawling can come after a child learns to walk. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t understand the frustration and extreme desire to want your child to be moving around on their hands and knees in playgroup like the rest of your friend’s babies. My own son is 10 months old and doesn’t go on all fours. But I’m here to tell you (and remind myself) that it’s ok, and that classic crawling is not necessarily an essential part of motor development.
When do babies crawl? Some at 6 months, some by 12 months, and some never crawl at all.
What age do babies crawl at?
The average age that crawling – or let’s call it “locomotion” – develops is between 7-11 months. Here are some forms of locomotion that you might see from your child:
The “classic crawl”
In this standard form of crawling, the baby is up on hands and knees, also known as 4 point. Crawling is performed in a cross body movement, of moving opposite leg and hand in a forwards motion.
The “commando crawl” (army crawl)
This is the one my little guy is quite fond of. It looks like he’s in training for battle. Elbows are usually bent, and the knees may or may not bend as the baby drags their belly on the floor.
The “bum scoot”
In sitting, typically with one knee bent and one or both hands on the ground, the baby pulls themselves forwards.
The “bear walk”
This form of crawling looks like the classic crawl, but in this case the baby keeps their elbows and knees straight, and “walks” on hands and feet like a bear.
The “rolling crawl”
This baby has perfected the art of rolling and uses their awesome ability to get from one place to another.
The “crab crawl”
This form of crawling can be the most frustrating for babies. Using their arms, they try to go forwards but end up going backwards or sideways.
Some kids never crawl and go straight to walking. Totally out of no-where, baby just gets up and goes!
Classic crawling does have motor development benefits, including weight bearing through hands and knees, bilateral coordination, and contributes to core strength. However, that doesn’t mean those aspects can’t be worked on in other ways. If your child is not up on hands and knees, you can work on core strength with exercises on a stability ball, promote upper extremity weight bearing and strength through wheel barrow walking, and play in high kneeling to help weight bearing through knees and promote pelvic strength and stability. You can always continue to encourage crawling by:
- offering plenty of tummy time
- placing desired objects just out of reach
- supporting baby’s chest/stomach while try and pull their weight forward
- placing your palms on baby’s feet so they can try and push off your hands
Provided there are no other developmental concerns, babies do not need to perform classic crawling.
As always, discuss any concerns with your family doctor or paediatrician. Babies develop so much within the first two years and therefore they are energy efficient – preserving their extra energy towards the many different aspects of development. They will always choose the path of least resistance and will do what is easiest for them until the next form of movement becomes easier for them. Provided there are no other developmental concerns, babies do not need to perform classic crawling. As long as they show a desire to get from point A to point B, and figure out their best way to do so (which may include asking mom or dad for help), they have a mode of locomotion. Although it is common for a child to skip crawling, if your baby has difficulty supporting their body weight or appears to crawl in an asymmetric pattern (using one arm and leg while leaving the other to drag), bring this to the attention of your paediatrician or family doctor.
- If your child isn’t classic crawling, don’t stress!
- Encourage activities such as tummy time, reaching, kneeling, wheelbarrow walking, and core stability exercises
- Remember that each child develops at their own rate, but if you have growing concerns don’t hesitate to contact your child’s paediatrician
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