Getting your baby crawling maybe also one of your big aims right now. Today we know that tummy time is one of the activities promoted by many child development specialists to encourage infants to eventually master this milestone. These experts confirmed that babies not spending time on their tummies often have some delays in their motor skill development.
The research found that tummy time is a great way for helping babies learn to push up, roll, sit up, crawl, and eventually pull to a standing position.
A common problem
But this is exactly where we come across a common problem.
Many parents complain that their child simply does not like being on his tummy. So, what should you do if this is also your child’s experience?
Well, this page simply cannot cover all the options to overcome hating tummy time. But what’s described below looks at one of the simple, yet very effective techniques to promote tummy time and crawling.
This technique is what I’d like to call the “baby-on-chest” technique. And it works well, especially if your baby is still young… although I’ve also seen good results with older babies of around 4-5 months and even a bit older.
So, let’s look at this baby crawling techniques in a bit more detail.
Baby on your chest
- Lie down (you) on the floor on your back.
- Put your baby on his tummy on your chest. The two of you will effectively almost be lying tummy-to-tummy
- Talk to him. Get his attention and try to get a positive response. One idea is to point to and identify his body parts (eyes, nose, arms, hands, etc.). Make it a fun experience. And try to encourage and interest with the tone of your voice when talking to him.
One of the things I see parents instinctively do is to raise and lift their baby. This is great for keeping things great fun. And making things fun for your child is probably THE most important part of getting any baby crawling technique to work.
Although this exercise does not give immediate results, it’s a powerful way to encourage and make your baby used to tummy time. And we know that is one of the best frontrunners for crawling.
Put your baby on your chest. It’s a very effective way to make your baby more used to tummy time… which is the first step towards crawling.
My suggestion is to try this technique daily for about 2 weeks or even a bit longer before simply deciding that it doesn’t work.
Simple But Perfect Infant Activity To Help Baby Crawl
Many parents continually search for the best infant activity to stimulate and encourage their baby’s development…, especially during the first few formative years.
During these first years babies must get all the learning experiences necessary for a complete development.
And developing a complete range of skills requires mastering many activities and exposure to many learning situations.
Baby’s ability to bear weight on both arms is the first step to crawling. It happens before learning to bear weight on the knees. Encourage further by using toys to reach for.
Two things all babies must master are sufficient head control to lift and independently turn their head around, and enough upper body strength to lift both shoulders and head to look around.
But there must be a shortcut, isn’t there?
Certain key baby activities offer an abundance of stimulation and valuable learning experiences. Yet, since many parents are totally unaware of the value of these activities they are mostly overlooked.
One of the very best activities for a developing infant is also one of the simplest… tummy time!
Tummy lying is a great activity to simultaneously build and develop upper body strength and proper head control. Both of these vital skills happen automatically as it learns to hold their head up, look around and push up using only their arms.
Upper body strength and proper head control are absolutely vital skills all babies must completely master.
How does it work?
Colorful toys are great for keeping your child’s attention focused on fun things while spending valuable tummy-time time learning and developing a range of skills and movements.
- This infant activity gives the best results if you place a blanket or mat on the floor.
- Put your baby on their tummy on the mat and scatter 2 or 3 toys around in front of them to reach for and play with.
- Best is to use simple, easy-to-grasp toys just right for your child’s age.
- For the youngest babies, bold colored toys are especially stimulating; older children will prefer more colorful toys, ones making noises, and simple construction toys.
- Although this infant activity doesn’t require any special equipment, you may wish to explore the many special tummy time mats and cushions. Many come with age-appropriate toys, such as rings and rattles, already attached.
Look out for…
Be careful, however, that your child doesn’t get tired of spending too much time lying on their tummy and seeing the same toys every time!
Many tummy time cushions are made in such a way that the toys can be detached, so you can substitute the toys and keep things interesting.
As with any activity, be sure to monitor your child carefully while lying on their tummy – especially if you have older kids or pets.
If lying on a blanket, ensure that it’s heavy enough and won’t entangle your baby.
If you don’t have a heavy quilt or tummy time cushion, then an exercise mat is an inexpensive, comfy, and safe alternative.
Educational Toys For Improving The Age Baby Crawls
The one thing I’m often asked about the age Baby crawls at is…
“Is there a toy to help my baby learn this skill?”
This question recently got me thinking.
The obvious answer is, “yes”. A roller for one does exactly that.
The problem is, rollers are mostly sold to therapists, can be fairly expensive, and are not always readily available. That’s why you can check these DIY options.
But you’ll agree that for most of us, we do not want to spend time making a roller. It simply takes too much time – we’d rather buy one.
So, the next question I can already hear you ask is…
“What Toys Can I Buy To Teach Baby To Crawl?”
Let’s start off to clarify exactly what we’re looking for in such toys. If you get this right, finding the right toy is easy. And most likely the age Baby crawls or starts crawling at, is never again a concern.
You and I are still going to closely follow and use the 5P crawling system. But there’s one difference.
Rather than using a roller, or making a replacement “sausage” with a towel, we’ll be looking for toys to do the same task.
Once you get “it”, you’ll see that there are literally countless options.
Let’s look at a few. I’ve included a picture and a short description of how to use it to make things a bit easier.
Note: In all cases the goal is to encourage Baby to spend time on their tummy while supporting on their elbows.
Top 3 Reasons Why Baby Crawling Must Be Done Correctly
Parents universally accept baby crawling as THE one milestone all infants must master.
But despite this widespread acceptance, few realize why it is so important. And how to make sure their baby benefits most learning this skill.
Through crawling babies learn and discover spatial concepts like under, over, in and out.
This skill also gives babies vital sensory stimulation through their hands and knees which is vital for gross and fine muscle development.
In short, they learn skills necessary to stand, walk and write correctly.
Research shows that many children who never crawled properly often struggle with poor balance.
Some of them struggle to ride a bicycle. Others are simply clumsy. And then there are also the ones who often fall and injure themselves.
Many variations of baby movement exist.
But the important question is: do all these different ways of crawling give the same benefit?
Do variation of movement or locomotion like bear walking, bum shuffling, commando style crawling, ordinary crawling and sometimes forward rolling all give the same development benefit?
The answer in short is… no. Not all movement “styles” give the same development benefit as “traditional” crawling.
But… any of these “styles” are considerably better than not crawling at all.
Traditional or normal baby crawling alternatively uses both arms and knees – straight arms and on knees – to move forward or sometimes even backwards.
Moving backwards is often found when babies are just learning to crawl. This is a normal development pattern. And nothing to worry about..
The biggest benefits your baby get from ordinary baby crawling comes from two things…
#1 Firstly, learning to simultaneously bear weight on both arms and legs, and…
#2 Secondly, learning to alternatively use opposing arms and legs to move forward stimulates both brain halves.
Learning to bear weight on arms and legs develops and improves equilibrium and balance.
Babies without this experience almost always struggle with these skills later on. This lack is often obvious in below-average sporting abilities.
Commando style crawling as well as bum shuffling and even rolling forward (we’re specifically only talking about rolling to get from one point to another) do not give exactly the same weight-bearing stimulation.
#3 But there’s a third more important thing about learning to crawl.
The ability to use both legs and arms to crawl normally is more often than not a good indication that a baby is still developing normally.
Stated a little differently…
There’s usually a deeper, more important reason that needs further attention should a baby fail to master normal crawling.
It is often due to some physical inability or development delay.
And it’s easy for professionals to treat and overcome such inability once it is identified.
At what stage should you consult a pediatrician or therapist?
Golden rule of thumb is to do so if your baby is 12 months or older and still doesn’t crawl.
Perhaps one of the most frequently noted reasons that babies fail in getting a complete development experience is failing to properly master normal baby crawling.
One of the biggest advantages any parent can give their child is to closely measure and monitor development. And one of the most important measurements is their baby’s ability to crawl correctly… at the right age.
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?
Before we can go into the details we have to first agree on two things:
- Are we talking about the same thing when we refer to crawling? Stated differently, are we in agreement what ‘crawling’ looks like? And…
- 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.
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 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.
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…
- 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.
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.
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!
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:
How was your experience?
How did your baby start to crawl and what were some problems you’ve encountered. Feel free to share your tips in the comment section below.