When Do Babies Start Crawling?

Crawling is a major milestone for your baby. Learn more about different types of crawling styles, at what age your baby will likely crawl and how to encourage her to get started.

Go, baby, go! Crawling is an intermediate step between sitting and walking, and there are as many unique ways for a baby to learn to crawl as there are, well, unique babies. Yours may start with one style and then progress to another, or stick with her favorite until she gives up crawling for good. The many ways babies crawl are normal (and probably pretty adorable, too!).

When do babies crawl?
Babies typically start to crawl around the 9-month marker or later, but some start as early as 6 or 7 months, while others take their sweet time putting four on the floor. And some babies actually bypass crawling altogether — going straight from sitting up to standing to walking.

What are the different types of crawling styles?

There are lots of ways babies begin crawling, including:

-The commando crawl. Sometimes also known as the “belly crawl,” your little one may begin crawling by creeping — keeping her belly and legs down on the floor and pulling herself along with her arms.
-The bottom scoot: In learning to crawl, your baby may test out the bottom scoot: Sliding her well-cushioned bottom along the floor, she uses her legs to pull herself forward.
-The classic crawl. This one’s exactly what you probably picture when you think of crawling — from her belly, baby pushes up on her hands and knees and moves by alternating the opposite leg and arm forward.
-The roll. Your baby may rock back and forth until she gets the hang of forward motion.
-The tripod crawl. Baby moves with two hands and one knee doing the work while the second leg takes it easy.
-The bear crawl. From her best downward-facing dog yoga pose, with straight legs and her behind lifted high in the air, baby waddles along on her hands and feet.
-The leapfrog. Speaking of yoga moves, with this crawl baby gets into a hands-and-knees bridge pose and moves by thrusting herself forward.
-The crab crawl. This one has the frustratingly opposite of its intended effect — baby uses her arms to push herself backward or sideways instead of forward.

How can you teach your baby to crawl?
There are a few ways you can help your baby discover crawling:

-Tummy time. Make sure your baby gets plenty of supervised tummy time so she can practice raising herself on all fours. Tummy time helps her build strength in her back, neck and arms — the better to crawl, scooch or creep with, my dear!
-Propping up your baby to sit. Sitting assisted at first, and then unassisted when she’s ready, also helps babies develop strong abdominal and back muscles for crawling. In fact, babies often “discover” crawling from learning to sit: One day she might lean over from sitting and discover she can prop up her body on her hands and arms. From there, she might try rocking back and forth, or even holding herself in a plank pose, until she figures out her own way to move along, inch by inch.
-Belly bait. Another game that encourages babies to get crawling is to place tantalizing toys — some call it “belly bait” — nearby but out of reach during tummy time, or near where baby is sitting. She’ll be extra motivated to try out new ways of moving her legs and arms when there’s a clear reward in sight for her efforts.

What if your baby isn’t crawling yet?

If your baby is a late crawler (or never crawls at all), it’s not a cause for concern. However, if she’s also behind in other developmental areas, such as language, social interactions or other motor skills, or if she is not able to use both sides of her body equally well, bring it up with her doctor.

It’s not necessarily the case that a crawler will soon be ready to graduate to taking her first steps, or even that an early crawler will also be an early walker. Once a baby learns to crawl, she may get so good at it that it becomes her preferred mode of transportation for quite some time. In fact, many babies who aren’t the world’s greatest crawlers (or who skip crawling altogether) make an earlier leap to walking than babies who get around like Speed Racer on all fours.

How to keep your crawling baby safe

Once your baby starts crawling, you might be surprised at how soon she’ll be able to move fast. Try these tips to keep her safe:

-Dress her for movement. Covering baby’s knees with comfy leggings or stretchy pants may help her keep up the pace and avoid painful rug burn or scratches.
-Childproof your house. Be ready for sudden accelerations by removing hazards and breakables from her path, and keep a close watch on her at all times. Make sure your home is childproofed for a newly mobile baby (getting down on all fours yourself and looking for trouble at her level is a good step).
-Help her learn how to master stairs. Although you’ll want to gate off those stairs (top and bottom), don’t make them completely off-limits. Kids need to know how to climb up, and, even more importantly, how to maneuver safely down. So if possible, depending on how your staircase is built, place the bottom gate a few steps up from the floor. This creates a practice area so your baby can try her hand at climbing. Of course, you should stay nearby while she does, but if she tumbles it won’t be far. Also allow her to crawl all the way to the top sometimes (with you following just behind her behind, of course). As soon as she’s achieved upward mobility, it’s time to work on safe strategies for heading downtown. Show her how to scoot down on her belly — feet first — which keeps her low to the ground and pointed in a safe direction (be patient, this may take months for her to master). It can seem tedious to monitor all this up-and-downing, but it’s really important for your baby’s safety. If she has no exposure to stairs, she’ll be at risk if she does encounter an ungated set of steps (and she probably will).
-Teach her not to climb on furniture. If she climbs where she shouldn’t (say, on a bookshelf or coffee table), gently remove her and remind her (over, and over and over) that furniture is not for climbing. Guide her to a safe place (such as those few steps you left exposed, or a pile of pillows on the floor) and reiterate that it’s okay to climb here. Your little mountaineer will eventually get the message (but until then, do make sure that heavy furniture is anchored to the wall, so she can’t topple it).

Crawling is such an exciting milestone that it’s not uncommon for a new crawler to experience some sleep disruption around the time that she picks up her new skill — her little mind is jam-packed with brand-new sensations and experiences, and she might have trouble sleeping while she’s working on processing it all. This is perfectly normal…if exhausting. Double-down on your little one’s bedtime routine and allow for plenty of wind-down time at the end of a busy day exploring.

Wondering what’s next? As soon as your baby reaches cruising speed on all fours, it’s only a matter of time until she’s standing up on her two feet using whatever’s in reach — the couch, a chair, your leg. From there it’s only a matter of time until she takes her first steps and is running, jumping, dancing and more.