Exciting Milestones in the First Year
Learning to crawl is an exciting milestone for your baby in the first year – up until they crawl, their only way of getting around is with your help (being carried or pushed in a stroller). It’s their first real taste of moving independently and opens up their little world to so much more exploration and discovery…eventually paving the way to pulling up, kneewalking, standing, walking and one day running!
Crawling is just as important for your baby’s development as it is cute to look at. Crawling develops babies’ gross motor, visual, spatial and cognitive skills – your baby needs to use their body and their mind to achieve this milestone! Their core must be strong, as well as their back, neck, shoulder and arm muscles to stay balanced. Their vision also develops as they switch between looking into the distance and down at their own hands. They also start developing ways to navigate, and remembering where things are also aids their memory development.
As Mums, we all love seeing our babies achieve milestones, and you might be wondering if there are ways to encourage your baby to crawl. Babies typically begin to crawl anytime from 6 to 10 months and there are certainly ways you can help your little one with this milestone. Here are our Top 5 Ways to Encourage Baby to Crawl!
1. Ways to Encourage Baby to Crawl: Lots of Tummy Time!
You can start tummy time with your baby from day 1. Start with a few minutes, a few times a day for younger babies, and gradually increase the time depending on your baby’s strength. Tummy time is wonderful for strengthening your baby’s neck, back and shoulder muscles, preparing them for the crawling phase.
Some babies hate tummy time with a passion – if your little one is not a fan, get down on the floor with them, encourage them with toys, talk to them, smile and entertain! You can also try putting them on your own tummy while you talk and play. Make sure your baby isn’t hungry (or too full either – a full belly can be uncomfortable!) or too tired.
Always remember to do tummy time in the day time, and place them on their backs to sleep at night.
2. Ways to Encourage Baby to Crawl: Keep Baby’s Knees Comfortable!
Learning to crawl on hard surfaces, whether that be wooden floors, tiles or being out and about can leave your little one with sore, scratched knees. I certainly struggled with this, in an apartment with hard tiled floors, and hated seeing my little ones with red knees! I used to use large pillows to keep my daughter contained to the carpeted area of the living room, but there was eventually no stopping her! When helping your baby learn to crawl, you want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible, and there are various products now available to help.
One of our favourite products for crawling babies are the Kneewalker Pants by Australian brand Morgan Essie Kneewalkers. Mum Nicole, started creating these padded knee pants when her own daughter crawled and then kneewalked for another 10 months, which meant a year of bruised and scratched knees! After trying traditional knee pads without much success, she decided to create her own padded kneewalker pants. These fabulous pants protect your baby’s knees and shins when they are crawling, kneewalking, or learning to walk on hard or rough surfaces, and they are great for indoor or outdoor use to prevent scratches and bruising. Made from 100% stretch cotton they are a loose fit, super comfy, and come with a range of funky, matching long sleeve cotton tees.
Make sure you read to the end of the blog to grab a very special offer on these wonderful pants!
3. Ways to Encourage Baby to Crawl: Entice with favourite toys and encourage reaching!
Another way to encourage your baby to crawl is to entice them to reach for toys they love. A very important step in learning to crawl is getting those arms moving! Place interesting and colourful toys at a small distance from your little one and see if your baby can move towards these objects. You can also then move the toy a little further away each time.
Reaching and grasping is a complex skill for your baby to master, so be patient. Use toys that are very easy for little hands to grab (like interlocking rings and textured books). Learning how to reach encourages babies to shift their weight from one side of the body (and stabilise) to the other which is the first sign of the “left/right/left” pattern required for mastering crawling.
4. Ways to Encourage Baby to Crawl: Things to Avoid
There are definitely things to avoid when looking for ways to encourage baby to crawl. The first item worth mentioning is the baby walker. Using a baby walker means less time on the floor learning the skills required to crawl. Walkers are potentially dangerous and can also hamper muscle development. As with anything, balance is ok, but try to avoid only letting your little one move around in a walker.
Likewise, spending too much time in carriers or baby seats won’t help encourage crawling. Babies need plenty of time every day to move, play and explore their environments.
Lastly, don’t get too caught up in reaching this milestone and end up pushing your baby to learn to crawl before they are ready. We want to gently encourage. Pushing can lead to frustration on both sides and slow down the entire process.
5. Ways to Encourage Crawling: Help your Baby get out of the Sitting position!
Your baby might recently have achieved another milestone – learning how to sit. However, it’s just as important for babies to learn how to get OUT of the sitting position, and you can help!
This fun stage of development can lead to a fair amount of face planting and head banging, so be on hand to help your little one balance. As above, when you see your little one is interested in grabbing an object or toy that is just out of reach, you can help them lean forwards (around 45 degrees to either side) and get onto their tummy. If your little one is not a fan of being on their tummy this could frustrate them a little, but over time you’ll see them master this movement and before you know it they will be able to go from sitting, to crawling and back to sitting again to play with the prize they were reaching for!
To recap, ways to encourage baby to crawl:
- Use lots of Tummy Time
- Keep your baby’s knees comfortable – try Kneewalker pants for crawling babies
- Encourage reaching with favourite toys
- Avoid use of walkers, overuse of carriers and seats and pushing your baby too quickly
- Help your baby get OUT of the sitting position
I hope you’ve found these tips useful and remember to enjoy and remember these special milestones as they go faster than you think! Once your baby knows how to crawl the fun truly begins. Make sure you baby proof your home (download our free First Aid and Babyproofing Checklists below) and enjoy watching your baby embark on their journey towards independent movement. Before you know it your little one will be up and running and then there will be no stopping them! ♥
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Need to baby proof your home for your new crawler? Grab our FREE FIRST AID & BABYPROOFING CHECKLISTS here and have them sent straight to your inbox today!
Catherine Nelson-Williams is the author of this article and founder of The Nursery Collective. She is a mum of two and juggles being a WAHM with blogging and running The Nursery Collective - a haven for mamas navigating the early years of motherhood, where you can find unique boutiques and services for Mum, Baby & Kids all in the one place.