Babies develop at different rates – some may begin crawling as early as 6 months, while others may wait until 10 months. There is no one-size-fits-all development for children. Babies may skip crawling altogether, instead choosing to move by rolling around or scooting. Crawling is an important milestone since it develops muscles that are needed for later development such as walking and running. If your baby is not crawling yet don’t panic, just be proactive.
Why doesn’t my baby crawl? When should I be nervous?
Crawling occurs between the ages of 6 and 12 months. By sitting up and rolling, your child will be able to strengthen the muscles necessary to crawl. During these years, each milestone should naturally lead to the next.
Generally, if your baby meets other developmental milestones and is healthy and happy, there is no need for concern. When it comes to development, there is a wide range of normal. There is an age range for reaching this developmental milestone. When your child has achieved other milestones at the right age, such as rolling from back to stomach and stomach to back, sitting up without support, pulling up with his or her forearms and getting up from lying on the belly, crawling or something similar should be a natural next step.
My baby hates belly time, what should I do?
A child’s belly time, or tummy time, plays an incredibly important role in strengthening their muscles, both during infancy and affects them throughout their school years. The benefits of belly time include increased core strength, fine motor skills, and neck muscle strength required for reading. Three to four times a day is all a newborn needs to do tummy time. At approximately three months of age, your baby should be able to do belly time for 15 to 20 minutes per day. Around six months old, your baby should be able to do belly time for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
In order to make belly time more comfortable for your child, there are a few things you can do to make it more pleasant for them.
Belly time tricks for a fussy baby:
- Start by doing a few minutes at a time, slowly increase
- Put out lots of toys so the baby is entertained!
- Try placing something under the baby’s chest for added support to help them stay in a propped position – such as a rolled up towel or blanket.
- Try different surfaces- soft, hard, etc.
- Lay in a semi reclined position and place your baby on their belly laying on your chest facing you – this will encourage them to lift their head to look at you.
- Try something like holding your baby in a Superman-like position on your forearm with their legs on either side of your elbow and your hand supporting their chest. You can take your baby and fly them around the house to look outside and in the mirror at themselves.
Increasing visual simulation and face-to-face interaction will make belly time more enjoyable for your baby. Most babies hate tummy time, so don’t feel bad if yours does. Try not to rely on supportive devices like bouncers that can delay development. It will get easier and easier as your baby develops stamina and endurance. When working with your baby it is important to always put safety first! With increased independence comes the need to baby proof the house. Be mindful of cords and small toys. Watch for outlets and lock cabinets. Tummy time and crawling should be a fun milestone and not a time of stress. Remember to be patient with your baby and not to push them too hard.
We encourage you to reach out to us at The Therapy Place if your baby still hates tummy time and cannot hold their head up after practicing daily. You and your baby can work with our highly qualified therapists to develop a course of action to ensure proper motor development.
What can I do at home to encourage my baby to start crawling?
To encourage your baby to crawl, start with belly time at home. Your baby uses this time to strengthen his or her core, neck, back, shoulders, etc., all of which are necessary for crawling. Play with your child and place books and toys near them to encourage them. They will be encouraged to move around as a result. In addition, it is important to allow your baby to move around and explore.
How can Occupational Therapy help a baby who doesn’t crawl?
Our trained therapists will work with your baby using exercises to increase muscle tone and strength so that they can begin crawling. A therapist here can identify underlying issues preventing your baby from reaching milestones.
To support your baby’s development in a way that meets their individual needs, we will work together to create a care plan.
In an Occupational Therapy session, the therapist will engage your baby in play to develop Gross Motor skills. A large part of gross motor work involves belly time and sitting up. During these sessions, the therapist will watch for any signs of developmental concerns such as difficulty lifting the head, stiff limbs, rounded backs, poor head control, arching backs, and difficulty reaching. Following the identification of areas of weakness, a plan or course of action will be developed. Therapy will be provided at the clinic, but also ideas for parents to do with their babies at home to promote development will be included in this plan.
Check out The Therapy Place online to see if our OT services can help your baby (or any child!) develop and succeed. https://www.therapyplacenj.com
We offer evaluations for babies and children at The Therapy Place. The Therapy Place can help parents who are concerned about their child’s development and want to meet with a therapist. Contact us today for a free evaluation to see what we can do for your baby.
“Baby Crawling: 12 Tips to Help Your Newborn Learn to Crawl.” Mustela USA, https://www.mustelausa.com/blogs/mustela-mag/baby-crawling-10-tips-to-help-your-baby-learn-to-crawl.
“Help Your Baby Develop Motor Skills: Track Baby Milestones.” Pathways.org, 28 July 2021, https://pathways.org/topics-of-development/motor-skills/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAwJWdBhCYARIsAJc4idBSBc_xXsl-zrAYaW6iIRVK4S8G3ei1GFuXCoDGR95z_nDFnX9-K5oaAkvREALw_wcB.
Page, Karleigh. “‘My Baby Hates Tummy Time!” Tips for Parents : Napa Center.” NAPA, 22 Feb. 2022, https://napacenter.org/tummy-time-tips/.