When your baby starts becoming mobile, it’s worth remembering that their physical development can vary significantly from one child to the next. Whilst some babies may progress from rolling and sitting to bum shuffling and crawling relatively quickly, others may skip the crawling stage all together, opting to pull themselves up on to their feet and cruising around furniture instead.
Most babies learn to crawl between the age of 7 and 10 months, but if your baby isn’t on all fours yet, there are some simple activities you can try to help encourage your baby to crawl.
- Tummy time
First, in order for your baby to develop the physical strength to pull themselves up and carry their own weight, tummy time is really important part of their development and should be practised regularly.
Tummy time involves lying your baby on their tummy and drawing their attention to a toy or rattle above their heads, helping develop their core strength, back and neck muscles.
It may feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable for them at first, so short durations regularly will help them become more confident in lifting their neck and raising their head up to take in their surroundings.
For tummy time to be successful, you should choose a time when your baby is well rested and fed, as they are likely to have much more patience as a result.
- Place toys just out of reach
By around six months of age, the changes are your child has a favourite toy or rattle. Rather than just handing it to them when they ask for it, place it just slightly out of reach from your baby when they are sitting or lying on their tummy.
This will encourage your baby to reach out, extend their arms or lean forwards to try and grab the toy, which in turn helps replicate the movements that are required in crawling.
There may be a few topples and falls along the way, so ensure you have a soft landing to prevent any tears.
Mirrors can also be fascinating for babies, especially when they start to realise that the face reflecting back at them is actually their own face!
Placing a mirror just out of reach and angling it to reflect the light can really spark your baby’s interest, encouraging them to come over to you and find out more.
Reduce the amount of time in a bouncer
Whilst bouncers and rockers can be a practical and useful way to entertain your baby during the day, it’s important you allow them time to move more freely, building strength in their arms and neck as well as their legs.
A play pen can be a useful way to safely contain your baby, whilst allowing them the freedom to explore and physically move around their surroundings.
Dress them appropriately
To encourage your baby to crawl you should make sure they are dressed appropriately, including long legged trousers or leggings that cover their knees. Even as adults, we wouldn’t feel comfortable being asked to crawl along a cold tiled floor or rough carpet, so chances are your baby won’t fancy it much either.
Ensuring their skin is covered and comfortable can help reduce any resistance your baby has to moving around.
Get on the floor with them!
Babies love to copy, so if all else fails, why not get on the floor yourself and show them how it’s done! Roll a ball or spherical toy away and crawl towards it, encouraging your baby to follow and replicate your behaviours.
Practice makes perfect
Remember, crawling won’t suddenly happen overnight, but practicing these steps regularly can help improve your baby’s strength, curiosity and confidence in making those first all-important movements on all fours. Have fun!