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When do babies start crawling?

How do you know when a baby should start crawling? We've broken down everything you need to know about this major milestone.

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Dear ITN,

My baby girl is 11 months old and still isn’t crawling or pulling up despite being strong. When she does try to get around, she usually just scoots on the belly or butt. Is this normal?

Signed,

Concerned Crawler

Dear Crawler,

Listen, as someone who’s been there, done that twice now, I have sort of a love/hate relationship with milestones and all those milestone trackers we focus so much on in early childhood. On the one hand, they are a super helpful tool for parents (especially new parents!) to use to get an understanding of what to expect(ish). But on the other hand, it is SO easy to fall into the worry trap when your babe isn’t checking those boxes according to the established timeline. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that babies are gonna do WTF babies wanna do, and they’re gonna do it on their own terms. Is it normal that your baby hasn’t crawled by 11 months? Believe it or not, yes! But is it also normal to worry that your baby hasn’t crawled by 11 months? ALSO YES. To understand the trickiness around this particular milestone, let’s zero in on the meat of it: when DO babies start crawling?

The short (and somewhat annoying) answer is: it varies. Like, WIDELY. The expected range of crawling age spans from 6-12 months—that’s a big range! And within that range, there’s a lot of variation. For example, you’ll have babies doing the traditional hands and knees crawl at 6-7 months, and babies army-crawling at 8-9 months. There’s the booty scoot, the one-legged slide, the worm, and on and on. And then because again, babies are gonna baby and do what they want, you have babies who skip crawling entirely and just go straight to walking. All this to say, while crawling is technically a milestone, there are so many ways your baby will (or won’t) do it, and it can (or won’t) happen within a pretty big wide timeframe. 

But I get the worry! I always fretted when my girls didn’t hit a particular milestone at the same age all the books and pamphlets told me they should. I sent many an anxious email to our pediatrician, asking if it was OK if they weren’t doing this or that at such-and-such age. And their response was essentially always the same: your baby is doing what YOUR baby is going to do, and if they’re meeting XYZ, it’s not something to worry about just yet. I would absolutely recommend talking to your pediatrician about your concerns. That’s what they’re there for, and they should be able to reassure you after talking about other areas of your little one’s physical development! Generally speaking, 2-3 months after the “expected” milestone is missed when experts suggest working with your pediatrician on early intervention, if that’s what is needed. But considering the timeframe of crawling spans 6-12 months and every baby hits this particular milestone in their own way (if they do it at all!), you have some time.

That being said: you can definitely do some things at home to help encourage your daughter to start making some moves. Tummy time has been shown to be super beneficial in getting babies on the move; studies have shown that babies who spend lots of time on their tummies get moving earlier, usually with a belly crawl first. To encourage momentum, place a favorite toy just out of her reach and give her something to push off of with her feet, like a piece of furniture or a box. Spend a lot of time down at eye-level with your babe, encouraging her to propel herself forward. Help her build upper and lower body strength by placing her in a plank position – so hands down, feet down, booty up. And when she’s sitting near a low table, encourage her to push up and stand by letting her hold your fingers and guiding her up—try not to pull, instead letting her engage her own core and leg muscles to push into a standing position.

Definitely talk to your pediatrician about this, it’s important that you communicate any and all of your concerns to the doc so you’re all aligned. And work with your babe on developing some of those movements and motivations when you’re home with her. But most of all, try not to freak out just yet! Milestones are, again, a very helpful tool. But they are not one size fits all, by any stretch of the imagination. Some babies just chart their own course from day one, and that’s perfectly normal. 

On the Move (Soon!),

ITN

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