Ask any pediatrician about milestones, and they'll tell you that your child is going to meet them at his or her own pace. But then why does it feel so anxiety-inducing if your friend's baby starts crawling before yours does? Even when you know it's not a competition, if your kid can't be bothered with crawling, you might be feeling, well... bothered. While it's completely normal to feel worried, trying to rush things can actually do more harm than good. It's important to understand the things you should and shouldn't do to get your kid to crawl.
Every child is unique, and his or her timing for learning to crawl will be too. "Most babies start to crawl between six to ten months", explains Dr. Richard A. Honaker, MD in an interview with Romper. "But don’t try to get your child to start crawling until they’re lifting their head up, and arching their back. Don’t try to push them to crawl before they’re doing that head lift well and have built up the muscles for at least three weeks," advises Dr. Honaker.
But what if your baby has mastered the head lift but isn't showing any signs of scooting? Dr. Honaker, the Senior Medical Advisor for yourdoctors.online, and Dr. Jarret Patton, pediatrician and children's health advocate, weigh in on what you should and shouldn't do to get your kid to crawl. Here are the top five don'ts.
1. Don't Rush It
"I’m always excited when a parent is really in tune with their child’s development. But despite the temptation to want the child to be the smartest or most agile on earth, the baby will develop at their own pace," explains Dr. Jarret.
However, if you are an action-oriented parent, there are definitely some steps you can take to encourage your child's development. Tummy time, for example.
"Tummy time is excellent time for the baby to gain upper shoulder and chest muscles," adds Dr. Jarret.
2. Don't Forget to Make It Fun
During tummy time, keep your baby engaged by bringing in bright and/or noisy toys, recommends Dr. Honaker. Start by holding the toy at the baby's eye level. Then "slowly move it up above their head, so that they start to arc their head and back," he explains. "Doing this will make them use the muscles they’re going to need to get going — those muscles are neck extension and arching their back."
3. Don't Skimp On The Praise
Babies love positive reinforcement! Never forget to praise your infant for his or her efforts.
"Praise them, but give them the same kind of praise each time, it has to be consistent. Praise can be anything that makes them happy — a nice sound, a nice touch, a warm heating pad for a moment, a sweet little song, something that gives them pleasure," says Dr. Honaker. By repeating the same type of praise, your baby will "get the idea that moving one knee in front of the other is a good thing!"
4. Don't Forget the Baby Bait
Sometimes it helps babies to have something to crawl towards.
"Try baby bait. If your baby likes a particular type of food, or fuzzy animal, or blinking light, use it as bait! Parents and siblings also make great bait!" says Dr. Honaker.
5. Don't Freak Out If It Never Happens
Some babies slowly build up to crawling — first pushing up with their arms, then sort of dragging themselves around "commando" style, and then finally, popping up on all fours. Other babies might not ever do what looks like traditional crawling, opting instead to slither or scoot, and that's ok, too.
"Always give your child floor time so they develop those muscles. However, crawling does tend to be one of those milestones that some kids just skip. They may creep and scoot, but then the next you thing you know, they’re walking. They can skip traditional crawling without an issue," explains Dr. Jarret.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.