Baby crawling and walking

By Dawn Kelly. Your child may crawl on all fours, roll sideways or bum shuffle! Whatever they do, it's getting mobile that's important.

Child on floor

Introduction

Crawling can come in many forms - from your traditional crawl on all fours to going everywhere backwards, bottom shuffling, rolling sideways, commando crawling on their tummy or even wriggling like an upside down crab!

Others may skip crawling and go from sitting, to pulling up, to standing and walking. Whatever they do, it's getting mobile that's important.

Crawling is probably the first way your baby will get moving. It often starts between six and nine months, and is usually in full flight by their first birthday.

Remember too, that babies develop skills at different rates, some more quickly than others. If your baby was born early (before 37 weeks) bear in mind that some milestones may be reached a little later than most babies. Whilst we are keen for our babies to reach those milestones of crawling and walking, we can do a few things to help them along.

How to make a magic moment

You can help your baby to crawl by encouraging them to spend time on their tummy.

In the early days, they'll only manage a few seconds but, by the time they are about four months old, they'll last a little longer and are likely to attempt to push themselves up. This action helps strengthen the muscles needed for crawling. Make it more fun by getting down beside them and pull funny faces or sing to them.

Once your child is almost crawling, you can make things fun by creating an obstacle course around your sitting room using pillows, boxes and cushions. Having a go at the obstacle course will help improve their confidence, speed and agility. Make sure you stay with them in case they get into difficulty.

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Expert opinion

By the time your baby is six months old, they are likely to be able to do mini push-ups. They may lie on their tummy and lift up their head and chest, using their arms for support. This may lead to 'commando' crawling, pulling themselves along on their tummy.

At the next stage, babies get up on all fours and rock backwards and forwards. By around eight months or so, they'll learn that pushing off with their knees gives them just the boost they need to get mobile.

At first they may go backwards before they learn to go forwards! Your baby may also learn to cross-crawl, moving one arm and the opposite leg together, to go forwards.

Practice makes perfect and your baby is likely to be crawling confidently by the time they're a year old. They'll be keen to tackle any challenge, including the stairs and the kitchen cupboards, so make sure your home is childproof.

Dawn Kelly, Baby & Child Development Expert, (RGN, RSCN, BSc, PGDipHV, PGDipEd, RNT, PGDipRes)

Top tips

  • Once your baby is on the move, put stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.Remove cot toys and bumpers from their cot as they may climb up them and fall out.Get on all fours yourself and have a look around for objects they may chew or climb on.Let them crawl around the house exploring as much as they like (providing it is safe).Let them go barefoot around the house to strengthen their muscles and obtain better balance - shoes only need to be worn when they're outside and walking well (don't expect them to be walking until after they are a year old).

Parent's tale

My son was quite difficult before he was mobile. I could tell he wanted to get up and go, but didn't know how to. He would cry with frustration. He wasn't very interested in tummy time either, but I used to play with him on his mat and would slowly rock him from side to side.

The thing that made him crawl was a bag or anything he wasn't allowed. He really wanted to get it, so I kept moving the bag away from him and rustling it - and he was off!

Vanessa, from Middlesex

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