Understanding Your Baby’s Crawling Style

Illustration by Deana Halsall

Aiden Ross was mobile when he was eight months old but not in the traditional crawl-on-all-fours manner. “He would use his arms and the soles of his feet to bum scoot himself around the house,” recalls his mom, Tanya Ross, of High River, Alta.  “Then a light bulb went on,” she says, “and he realized the standard crawl helped him go faster. He’s been on the move ever since.”

Getting Around
“There are no best practices when it comes to crawling, so almost anything goes,” says Dr. Ronit Mesterman, a pediatric neurologist and medical director of developmental pediatric rehabilitation and autism spectrum disorder services at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont., and an associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster University. “The simple fact that there are so many crawling variations perfectly demonstrates that the activity is specific to each baby.” Still, she says, there are general milestones parents can expect. One is that most babies will crawl between seven and 11 months. “Obviously that’s a guideline, but that’s the average age range parents can look to,” she says. Another is that the standard four-point crawl (with baby up on all fours) may not be the style your child attempts. “It’s typical for babies to four-point crawl, but some children will bum scoot, commando crawl and bear walk. It’s all dependent on the baby.”

But what if your babe starts pulling himself up to a standing position before he’s shimmied across the floor on his hands and knees? Don’t fret; some children won’t crawl, period.  “As long as the baby’s general development is occurring without any other developmental delays, parents usually need not be concerned,” Dr. Mesterman says.

Scooting Stages
Babies typically start testing the crawling waters at five months by pumping up their arm muscles with small, consistent pushes. They then transition to balancing and moving around on their stomach, and some may even attempt a belly pivot, which can lead to a commando-style creep. Getting into a four-point position, where they rock on their hands and knees, is usually next. That was the case for Hudson Braga. “He was a chubby baby and weighed almost 30 pounds, so I was concerned about whether his size would affect his mobility,” says his mom, Katie Braga, of Winnipeg. A few days after she read up on how to help his movements along, she found him rocking on all fours on his bedroom carpet. “He kept that up for two days, and by the end of the week he was crawling,” she says.

How to Help
To ensure your child’s crawling ability will be up to snuff, the best thing to do early on is make daily tummy-time sessions, which contribute to upper-body strength, a must. Beyond that, stimulation is key, so keep toys, books and anything even remotely desirable to your baby close and on display. Pay attention to the toys and objects he likes the most, and every so often move them slightly out of reach. It may be a struggle at first for your baby to collect his favourite lovey, but, with time and practice, he’ll figure out how to shuffle his tush where he needs to go.

When to Worry
Not convinced your little one is on track? Even though it’s normal for some babies to skip crawling altogether, if a child past the age of one had delays with holding his head up, rolling or sitting upright and still isn’t crawling, it could be cause for concern, says Dr. Mesterman. Also take note if your baby can’t support his body weight, lacks energy to get around or crawls in an asymmetric pattern, using one arm and leg while leaving the other to drag. In these cases, she says, it’s a good idea to discuss any concerns with your family doctor or pediatrician.

 

This story is part of our New Baby Guide. Check it out for more info on bringing home, planning for and surviving having a new baby.

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