Crawling is an important
stage in development, and parents watch with delight as their child
becomes mobile. Although some babies start crawling before they are
six months old, most begin between six and nine months, and some
never crawl, going from sitting to walking without the middle step.
Because children develop at their own pace, each child will begin to
crawl when she’s ready. But if a child has not begun by the time
she’s nine months old, you may want to talk to a pediatrician about
her motor development.
Some parents wonder if they can motivate their baby to crawl by
putting attractive toys just out of her reach. Rather than help,
this may only frustrate her if she’s not able to start moving.
There’s really no need to encourage crawling because children have
an innate desire to get to many different objects and explore their
surroundings. As soon as she’s developmentally ready and able to
extend herself, she’ll start crawling.
When your child first begins to move, you may see her “belly crawl”
across the floor. She’ll move backwards or forwards, pulling with
alternating arms while her belly stays flat on the floor. Later,
she’ll get up on all fours, rocking a little. Eventually, she’ll
move slowly on all fours, mastering the movement until she becomes a
At that point (if not earlier), since your child will be able to
reach many potentially dangerous objects, you will have to baby
proof your home, an often time-consuming and frustrating task. You
should put plants, small toys, and fragile items out of reach, but
you should not stifle your child’s natural curiosity about the
objects she sees. As long as harmful items are out of the way, let
her crawl to the curtains, touch the table leg, or reach for a toy.
That’s how she learns about her world. Of course, during this stage
you’ll need to keep your floors clear of fizz, small objects, and
crumbs that could end up in your child’s mouth.
You will naturally be concerned about stairs once your child is
mobile. The best way to be sure she’s safe is to use gates at the
top and bottom of the stairway. If you have carpeting on the steps
and bottom landing, you may want to attach your gate a few steps up
so your child can crawl up and down the short distance safely.
However, if your landing is not carpeted, you will want to attach
the gate to the bottom step to minimize harmful falls. She will
quickly learn to climb the stairs and will enjoy going up, but most
children don’t come down steps safely until they’re one and one-half
to two years old. That’s why it’s so important to close the top gate
each time you pass through. Once you’ve made your child’s
environment safe, you can relax and let her enjoy crawling.