How does your baby learns to crawl?

  • October 6, 2017

Rolling is the first way your baby starts to move around. Some babies will roll across the room to get to a toy, but most babies will roll around for fun and only 1-2 rolls.

This means crawling is the first way for most babies to get to a toy by themselves.

Some babies will belly crawl before they push up on hands and knees. Some babies will skip belly crawling and practice crawling with a plunge forward. Some babies will crawl backwards before they crawl forward. 

When a baby is crawling he holds his head up to 90 degrees, he pushes up on straight arms and pulls his legs under his belly. He then holds his trunk above the ground, and he maintains all of the above while he shifts his weight moving forward.

baby crawling on grass

Before your baby can crawl, he needs to master these skills:


  • He needs to hold his head steady at 90 degrees.
  • He needs to roll both directions.
  • He needs to push up on straight arms laying on the belly.
  • He needs to lift one arm up to reach or play laying on the belly
  • He needs to develop strength and mobility in the spine on the belly and in sitting.
  • He needs to tripod sit then sit with a straight back then side sit and get into a sitting position.
  • He needs to get out of the sitting position onto his belly or into a crawling position.
  • He needs to safely shift his weight forward and backward in a crawling position.

Some babies crawl

backwards first

To crawl forward, your baby needs to be able to shift his weight over his wrist while moving his other hand forward. This takes time to learn. The wrists needs to have the stability, the strength to do this weight shifting. 

3 month old baby holding up her head drawing

To strengthen the shoulders, arms, wrists and to practice the weight shifting the baby will rock forward and backward in the hands and knees position. During the rocking, the baby could go little too far, and either falls forward or move backward.

Some babies are braver than others, and they will like falling forward getting up again and repeat falling. Some babies avoid falling forward and will just rock.

Some babies enjoy the backward moving and start doing it on purpose. Either version is great and will lead to independent crawling.

My baby scoots around

For your baby to crawl, the strength of the arms, shoulders, and head, spine and hips are crucial. If your baby is too weak in certain areas, but he is eager to get moving, he will find a way to get to his favorite toys.

baby scooting drawing

Some babies choose to scoot around. The good news is it does not hurt him. However it is not that beneficial to overall development.

Crawling on hands and knees will strengthen crucial muscle structures that the baby will use walking. Scooting around does not strengthen all the muscles needed.

When should my baby crawl?

The average age of crawling is 8-9 months.  Babies who spend most of their awake time on the floor, in a play-pen and held by adults will crawl sooner.

Putting babies into swings, bouncy chairs, exercises and other modern “mother helpers” slows down gross motor development. Babies who do not spend time on the floor usually will crawl at 10-12 months of age.

What can you do to help your baby crawl?

First of all, check your baby’s progress starting at two months of age. If he is delayed with the two months old skills, there is a bigger chance he will be delayed with crawling.

The development of your baby's head control is the most important skill that I would recommend keeping records of. Read my blog here to learn more about head control development in the first three months.

baby crawling drawing

If your baby is not:

- holding his head at 90 degrees when laying on his belly and
- if he is not rolling from belly to back and

- if he is not reaching for toys when held upright and
- if he is not playing with toys laying on his back

By five months of age take your baby to a specialists. Ask your doctor about details to find the right specialist for your baby.

Some doctors recommend waiting, to see if the bay will outgrow the delays. As I stated before, some babies do outgrow their delays. However, some don't.

My heart brakes when I start working with an 8-9-month-old baby not holding his head up high on the belly and not rolling yet. It is much more difficult for the baby, the parents and the therapist to teach the baby to walk starting with a large delay.

The best approach is to educate yourself about infant development and keep records about your baby's development.

With intention, a vision, a clear goal, patience, persistence, daily repletion, and a joyful firm belief in your baby, in yourself and the universe anything is possible!

As always, enjoy your baby and motherhood.

See your baby (babies) as a gift for you to love and cherish.


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