Are you anticipating the day your little one starts to crawl? As I watched other babies around the same age as Layla start crawling, and even walking, I knew I was eager to see her on the move.
When Layla turned 9 months old she was able to get herself up on all fours, but it seemed that all she would do was wobble back and forth in frustration before giving up. I knew that she wanted to crawl, I just had to figure out how to help her get there.
As I provided her with opportunities and activities to learn to crawl, she became more interested. She quickly learned how to get around and then wouldn’t stop!
How Babies Learn to Crawl
Most babies begin crawling between 6-10 months of age, while some babies skip crawling altogether. In order to crawl, babies need to be strong enough to hold up his or her weight and maintain balance as they move along the floor.
In addition, they must use their eyes to focus on a destination in the distance and to watch their hands as they inch forward. Knowing the gross motor, visual-spatial, and cognitive benefits of crawling, I decided it was time to help get Layla to crawl.
Why Crawling is Important
As your baby starts crawling they are developing fine and gross motor skills, balance, and hand-eye coordination. In addition, your baby is learning to have spatial awareness, increase visual skills, and of course, physical strength!
Crawling is vital for babies to strengthen their neck muscles, allowing them to hold their head upright. It also improves strength in the arms, hands
The Hands and Knees Position
Babies have different ways of learning to get around. Some keep their elbows on the ground to pull themselves forward (commando crawl), others stay on their bellies and scoot around, some skip crawling and just walk, but most get up on all 4’s (hands and knees) to get around.
The best way for your baby to learn to crawl is on hands and knees. This position provides numerous benefits to your baby through toddlerhood and beyond which commando crawling does not.
Crawling is shown to make a huge difference in children’s motor skills which become more evident when your child reaches school age. The muscles that will develop because of crawling are important for good posture, handwriting, and even athletics.
When babies crawl on hands and knees, they are receiving pressure to most of their joints, including wrists, fingers, and elbows. This helps them be more aware of where their body is in space and develop and strengthen muscles that will be useful as they grab, explore, and manipulate objects.
In my experience working with children, I have seen many school-aged kids with weak muscles, poor posture, sloppy writing, and overall decreased body awareness. Once I find out that they never crawled, I realize what an important skill it is when they are young to carry over the strengthening as they get older.
This post provides some more great benefits of Why Crawling and Creeping are So Important
9 Tips and Activities to Teach Your Baby to Crawl
Below are some some activities that I used to teach my baby to crawl. The more opportunities you give your baby to practice, the better
(Please remember to have proper adult supervision at all times)
1. Tummy Time
Tummy time is essential to helping your baby develop strength in his or her arms and neck and to promote motor skills including crawling. Before your baby can get to the next set of activities, the goal is for your baby to find enjoyment out of his or her daily tummy time.
Some babies are happy to play on their tummies from the time they are newborns and are eager to lift their heads and examine the world around them. However, other babies are frustrated on their bellies, making tummy time more of a challenge.
Some ways to practice tummy time include using a pillow to prop up your baby such as the Boppy Pillow or by placing engaging toys, books, or a mirror a safe distance away on the floor. Layla loved babbling to her reflection in her Tummy Time Mirror and reaching for her favorite book with flaps, Where’s the Ladybug?
If your baby starts fussing when you put them on the floor, try placing them on your chest or lying them on their tummies in your bed. Layla loved the comfort of cuddling up with mom and dad and listening to us sing or talk.
For more ideas, check out Tummy Time Tips from Just Simply Mom.
2. American Baby Warrior
Once your baby has started getting the hang of crawling, it’s time to step it up a notch. Creating tunnels or obstacle courses around your house encourages your child to crawl from one point to another.
Start with a basic setup such as this Pop Up Tunnel Tube and place your baby at one end and yourself at the other. Encourage her to crawl through the tunnel, using words of encouragement or toys to motivate her to move.
After providing your child with one point of entry and exit tunnels, challenge them with Hide N Side Tunnel or Kids Play Tent, Tunnel, and Ball Pit. These tunnels provide a variety of options and activities that require your child to crawl, play, learn, and explore.
Don’t have a ball pit or want to buy one? No problem! Using household items such as boxes, chairs, or pillows you can create your own tunnels and obstacle courses to encourage your baby to crawl.
In addition to going under obstacles, provide your baby with opportunities to go over, through, and around objects.
3. Dress the Part
All of those cute baby dresses, suspenders, and shoes are great for monthly photoshoots and Instagram stories, but, unfortunately, they are not conducive for crawling. When a baby tries to crawl in dresses her knees will get stuck on the material making it difficult to move.
As your baby gets frustrated she may quickly and frequently give up. Similarly, any accessories that may distract your baby are better left packed away when they are trying to crawl!
Stick to simple onesies in the warm months and sleepers in the cold months. Just wearing diapers is another wonderful option for all babies as they start crawling.
Let them explore the different textures around the house, whether it’s cool tile or a soft rug.
4. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
You know what babies love to look at? Themselves!
Similar to using a mirror during tummy time, you can use a mirror to entice your baby to start crawling. Place a mirror at the end of a long hallway or across the room and watch your baby strut her stuff or at least try to waddle her way towards her smiley reflection.
Babies love to look at faces and may be more willing to crawl towards herself, her parents, siblings, or pets, if she sees them in the mirror across the room.
Sometimes crawling for favorite toys isn’t enough incentive to get your little one to get on the move. Think about what your baby is always grabbing for, whether you want them to or not.
For Layla, it’s electronics, shoes, and water bottles. By placing just one of these items on the floor out of her reach she’s instantly motivated to go grab it.
As soon as she approaches the item, I move it back slightly and encourage her to keep her little legs going. While it may seem like I’m teasing her, I always reward her crawling with words of encouragement, kisses, cuddles, and safe,age-appropriate toys!
6. Monkey See, Monkey Do
As a teacher, I know many students learn best by example. So, if you want your baby to crawl, you need to get down on all fours and show them how it’s done!
Move slowly, talking to your child as you go through the motions. Over time, your baby will want to mimic your actions and crawl along with you. This is a great task for siblings, cousins, and friends, too!
7. Wide Open Spaces
Make sure wherever you choose to practice your crawling you provide your baby with enough space to move around. Try to limit time in jumpers or in a playpen and allow more time having ownership of the space around them.
If you play in the living room, push the coffee table to the corner of the room. If you have a playroom put all toys along the perimeter of the space. Wherever you are, no matter how big or small, allow your baby the opportunity to move around!
8. Hands down
While propping your baby’s lower body up in the air, you’re forcing them to put their hands down on the ground. This will help them to feel and understand this position while supporting their body weight into their arms.
9. Twist and Turn
Place toys or most-loved objects on the side of your baby, just slightly out of reach. This will encourage your baby to twist and turn to grab them.
Allowing their bodies to move this way will help them to transition from the sitting position to
You don’t want them to be too far because they may feel defeated or unsuccessful. Just far enough that they will be able to reach with a slight twist or stretch.