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Helping Your Baby Learn to Crawl

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned after two babies, it’s that I can’t force them to do… well, anything. It’s like the old saying – ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.’ So, as much as I’d like to, I can’t force my daughter to crawl. She will do it when she’s ready. That said, though, there’s some things that I’ve been doing to help her get there.

As a brief aside – while I know many people disagree with me, I really enjoy the mobile baby stage and I prefer it! I love watching my babies explore the space around them and gain some independence. The same goes for walking – I LOVED when my son started walking, and I never understood when people would say they dreaded having a walker.

My daughter is seven months old. She is sitting independently at this point, and can get up on all fours, rock back and forth, and is even able to propel herself backwards. She can “army crawl” a bit. But she is not yet crawling on her hands and knees. I’ve found a few different strategies have helped her thus far, including:

  1. Give her opportunities to try. This might be a no-brainer, but it’s the most important tip there is. The only way she will be able to learn how to crawl is to give her the chance to try! That means plenty of time on her belly on the floor when she’s awake. The space is always safe (i.e. no choking hazards within reach, no nearby stairs, etc) and supervised. I also limit the amount of time she’s ‘in’ things, like her jumper, high chair, bouncy seat, etc. She needs to develop the muscles needed for crawling, and the best way to do that is to be independent on the floor.
  2. Positive encouragement. Perhaps another funny tip, but also very important. Babies respond very positively to big smiles, clapping, cheering, and excitement. My daughter gets so excited when I clap and cheer when she is practicing her crawling, and it encourages her to keep going.
  3. Keeping things out of reach. When my daughter is on her belly and focused, I take whatever toy she’s into at that moment and put it just a foot or so out of her reach. I will play with that toy and try to entice her to move herself to get it. Right now, she’s able to army crawl her way to it, but soon enough she will on all fours to crawl to it! You can also look into crawling toys like this one.
  4. Time it. Now that she’s older and able to sit independently, she’s developmentally ready. But there’s more to it than that! I make sure that she has a full belly and isn’t getting close to a nap, so she’s not tired and cranky. (I try to give her 10-15 minutes to digest before I put her on her belly.) She needs to be awake and full to be successful!
  5. Show her what to do. I enlist my toddler to do this often actually. He will demonstrate how to crawl back and forth in front of her. I’m hopeful that watching him crawl will show her what it looks like! I also set up a mirror on the floor (or put her in front of our wall mirrors) so that she can see herself. It stimulates her to watch herself, and it gives her something to crawl towards!

What tips would you add?

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