Different Crawling Styles Your Baby Might Use
One of the major milestones in a baby’s first year is learning to crawl. Crawling builds strength, coordination, and cognitive skills. It allows babies to explore their surroundings independently and is an important precursor to walking. There are actually several different crawling styles babies might adopt. Read on to learn how crawling progresses, the main crawling variations, and tips to encourage safe and proper crawling.
The Crawling Progression
Before mastering crawling, babies go through a few precursor phases:
- Rolling – Around 3-4 months old, babies learn to roll from their backs to stomachs and vice versa. This builds core strength.
- Army crawling – Around 6-10 months, babies begin moving by pulling themselves along on their bellies using arms and legs. Their stomachs stay low to the floor.
- Crawling – Between 8-11 months, babies progress to hands and knees crawling styles and gain mobility.
- Cruising – Around 9-12 months, babies learn to pull themselves upright and “cruise” while holding onto furniture for support.
- Walking – Between 9-17 months, babies take those first independent steps. Crawling has paved the way for this milestone.
The age range varies widely for crawling and walking. Premature babies may reach milestones later while some babies skip crawling and go straight to walking. Most importantly, there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to mobility development.
Traditional Hands and Knees Crawling
The most well-known crawling style is the traditional hands and knees crawl. In this style:
- Babies support themselves on hands and knees with hips raised off the floor
- They alternate moving opposite arm and leg pairs to crawl forward
- Traditional crawling develops bilateral coordination skills
- It allows them to build arm, leg, stomach, and back muscles
This classic crawl prepares babies well for walking. However, many babies opt for alternative crawling styles too.
Army crawling is commonly a precursor to traditional crawling. Babies move forward by dragging themselves on their bellies using their arms and legs. This strengthens muscles while allowing mobility before being able to raise up on hands and knees.
Some babies actually prefer the army crawl even once they have strength for other styles. Reasons can include:
- Building extra upper body strength before elevating on hands and knees
- Sensory issues make they dislike having hands on the floor
- Enjoying the freedom of mobility that army crawling provides
Army crawling is normal and doesn’t delay development. But bringing up any long-term army crawling to your pediatrician is recommended.
Bottom scooting involves sitting on the floor with legs in front and hands behind for balance, then pushing off with feet to move forward. It builds strength in legs and feet.
Some babies bottom scoot if they need extra stability. W-sitting, with knees bent and feet splayed out, provides more support while scooting.
Scooting instead of hands and knees crawling won’t harm development. But if baby relies solely on scooting for many months, provide tummy time and exercises to build arm and wrist strength needed for regular crawling.
Creeping or Inchworm Crawling
Creeping or inchworm crawling involves moving while keeping the stomach in contact with the floor. Babies start in a plank position, flatten down onto their bellies, and use arms/legs to pull themselves forward.
Benefits include building upper body and core strength. However, creeping for more than a couple months may indicate tight leg muscles or motor delays. Check with your pediatrician if you notice this style.
Mixed Crawling Styles
Many babies use a mixed crawling approach, incorporating elements of different styles:
- Hands and knees with stomach dragging on floor
- Army crawling combined with bottom scooting
- Hands and knees crawl with periods of creeping
- Alternating between army crawling and traditional crawling
Mixing it up helps babies develop strength, coordination, and skills in different muscle groups while mastering mobility at their own pace. There’s no “wrong” way to crawl as long as baby keeps making forward progress!
Tips for Encouraging Smooth Crawling Development
While each child progresses differently, there are some things you can do to help crawling along:
- Provide plenty of supervised tummy time during wake periods
- Limit time spent in bouncers, swings, etc. so baby builds motor skills
- Use activity mats and toys to entice movement
- Childproof space for exploring once mobile
- Help strengthen muscles through games like “row your boat”
- Give encouragement and avoid forcing positions
- Consult pediatrician if no crawling by 12 months
Remember that the speed and style of crawling varies individually. If baby seems content with their own way of mobility, no need to compare to others. Stay observant for potential red flags like regression or avoidance of weight bearing, and discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
FAQs About Baby Crawling Styles
At what age do most babies start crawling?
Most babies begin crawling between 6-10 months, with 8-9 months being average. But anywhere from 5-12 months is still considered typical and within range of normal development.
How long does the crawling stage last before walking?
Most babies crawl for around 2-6 months before progressing to walking with support, and then independent walking soon after. But any duration of crawling from just a few weeks to over a year is common.
Is it necessary for babies to learn traditional hands and knees crawling?
Not necessarily – the main goal is building strength through whatever style feels natural to your baby. Traditional crawling does build bilateral coordination needed for walking, but crawling styles like army, scooting, and inching along achieve mobility too.
Should I try to correct or redirect unusual crawling styles?
As long as baby is making forward progress, let them lead when discovering their preferred crawling method. Check in with your pediatrician if creep-crawling past 9 months or avoiding weight bearing. But in general, let your baby’s interests and skills guide the crawling style.
At what point should I be concerned about a lack of crawling ability?
It’s perfectly normal for some babies to skip crawling and go directly to cruising or walking. But definitely discuss it with your pediatrician if baby is still not able to get around by crawling, scooting or creeping after 12 months. Early intervention can help get mobility on track.
Crawling is so much more than just a step towards walking – it allows babies to explore independently and builds muscles needed for hitting other physical milestones. As you observe your baby’s journey from rolling to crawling and eventually walking, keep in mind there are several common crawling styles. Traditional hands and knees crawling as well as variations like army crawling, scooting, and creeping are all healthy ways for development. Allow your baby to embrace their own style on their timeline. Remember that every child progresses differently. With a baby proofed area and encouragement for mobile play, your little one will be crawling with confidence in no time!
Tips and Tricks
- Lay down a soft blanket or play mat to make the floor comfy for tummy time and crawling practice.
- Use toys and place desired objects just out of reach to entice your baby to move towards them.
- Offer lots of praise and claps when you see crawling attempts. Avoid overly forcing positions.
- Ensure baby is getting tummy time several times daily from an early age to build necessary muscles.
- Hold engaging toys in front of baby while they’re on their stomach to motivate forward movement.
- Make sure the crawling area is empty of hazards like cords, sharp edges, and small objects.
- Have baby crawl to you and reward with hugs and interaction each time they reach you.
- Install baby gates at staircases once baby begins crawling to prevent dangerous tumbles.
- Take videos of the crawling achievements so you can look back fondly on this memorable milestone.
- Examine baby’s shoes and socks to ensure they aren’t limiting flexibility needed for crawling. Bare feet or grippy socks are ideal indoors.
- If you have hard floors, lay down soft alphabet mats or activity mats for more crawled-on comfort.
- Read fun books about babies learning to crawl to get them excited about this new skill!