Your baby may prefer that you remain in a bent-over, back-breaking stoop, holding both hands so he can practice walking, but don’t let him give up on belly-scooting or crawling just yet.
Pediatric occupational therapist Rachel Coley explains:
“Some babies skip crawling but it's important to make sure they don't or they’ll miss important foundational strengths and skills. Crawling is important for many reasons, including building hand-eye coordination and learning to coordinate movements where the two sides of the body are doing different things.”
There are a number of stages your baby will go through while building up to crawling:
Learning to scoot on belly backward (7 to 8 months on average):
Around 8 months, with belly on the floor, your baby will likely start to scoot backward. Backward scooting usually comes before forward scooting. Ideas for encouraging forward movement can be found below.
Learning to sit and twist, hands-free (8 to 9 months on average):
Before crawling, your baby will work on sitting without hand support, twisting his body and reaching for toys while balancing. This happens around 8-9 months for most babies. You can help him work on hands-free sitting by enticing him with the dangling toys on The Play Gym.
Learning to scoot on belly forward (8 to 9.5 months on average):
While on his belly, your baby will move forward by pulling with his arms and pushing with his legs. You can help him get a better grip by putting him in a short-sleeved onesie with his bare legs on a hard floor. Entice him with a toy just out of reach and see if he is able to move toward you. On average, babies start moving forward on their bellies somewhere between 8 and 9.5 months.
Learning to support himself on hands and knees, belly off the floor (8 to 9 months on average):
Somewhere between 8 and 9 months, your baby will likely be able to get into the hands and knees position with his belly off the floor. If your baby is scooting, but not yet getting into the crawling position, you can help him learn to put weight on his hands:
Place him belly-down on a firm pillow or rolled up blanket tall enough to help him get familiar with the position. Make sure the support is high enough so that his arms are straight. Give him opportunities to feel lots of different textures with his hands while he is bearing weight on them.
Learning to crawl forward with belly off the floor (9 to 11 months on average):
Once your baby is on his hands and knees, you can encourage him to hit a ball or reach for a toy with one hand while putting weight on the other one. Stay close for support if he loses his balance.
Here’s how you can keep your baby crawling after he prefers other ways of getting around:
A crawl tunnel is a fun way to keep an early walker on his hands and knees. If your baby wants to skip crawling and go straight to walking, click here to learn more about possible reasons why and how you can help.