Crawling helps your baby strengthen his muscles for the next step: walking. It's your baby's first truly independent and efficient means of getting around. In general, babies first learn to balance on their hands and knees. Then they learn to move forwards or backwards by pushing on their knees.
At what age does a baby start crawling?
Most babies learn to crawl between the ages of 6 and 10 months. But some babies don't reach this stage. They may prefer to move on their bottom, crawl on their tummy, or pull themselves straight up, stand up and start walking. The important thing is to become mobile, no matter what.
How does a baby start crawling?
Babies crawl as soon as they can sit up unaided, around six or seven months of age. At this stage, they can hold their heads and look around. Their arm, leg and back muscles are strong enough to prevent them from falling when standing on their hands and knees.
Over the next two months, your baby will gradually gain confidence and move from a sitting position to crawling. He'll soon realize that he can rock back and forth while keeping his limbs straight and his torso parallel to the ground.
Around 9 or 10 months, he realizes that pushing on his knees gives him the impetus he needs to move. Gradually, he learns to move from all fours to a sitting position. He'll also understand that it's much easier to move by simultaneously advancing one arm and the opposite leg than by using the arm and leg on the same side. Later, he improves with intensive practice. By the age of one, he'll be a "real crawler"!
Does your baby crawl backwards, move on his buttocks (one hand behind and one foot in front) or skip the crawl step and go straight to walking? There's no need to worry. As long as he moves in one way or another, all's well.
The next step for your baby
Once your baby has mastered crawling, all that's left is to learn to walk and become fully mobile. To do this, he'll quickly "grab" onto anything he can find - the table or his grandmother's leg - to pull himself up onto his legs. Once he feels sufficiently stable on his legs, he'll be ready to stand up and walk around on his own, holding on to furniture.
Your role as a parent
The best way to encourage your child to crawl is to place toys and other objects a few steps away. You can also use cushions, boxes or sofa cushions to create an obstacle course for your child to overcome. These little exercises will boost his self-confidence and help him improve his speed and agility. Stay by his side as he experiments with his new abilities!
A baby starting to walk is often careless. Make sure your home is childproof, and pay particular attention to stairs. It's a good idea to install a staircase barrier until your baby can really walk well (around 12 months of age), when you'll need to keep an eye on him wherever he goes.
When should you be concerned?
Not all babies develop in the same way. Some develop faster than others. But if your baby isn't trying to move around in some way (crawling, rolling, crawling or crawling on his bottom), if he can't move his arms and legs together in a coordinated movement, if he hasn't learned to use both arms and legs by his first birthday, you should mention it at your next appointment with your pediatrician or doctor. Remember that premature babies may acquire these milestones several months later than full-term babies.