Crawling is a motor milestone that requires strength, coordination and motor planning. As children practice Tummy Time and begin to weight bear more through their arms, pushing up and exploring the environment around them, they will develop more dynamic control. You will first notice the child reaching out one arm at a time to grab at objects, pushing up into a quadruped (or 4 point pattern), and rocking back and forth on hands and knees.
Motivating objects or people can help to encourage the child to move forward, first on their belly using mostly upper body strength to pull themselves along, then arms and legs in an army or commando crawl pattern and finally in a true reciprocal pattern alternating moving arms and legs in a coordinated and efficient manner. Once your child masters crawling there is no stopping them!
- Prone Position Pushing Chest off Surface Weight Bearing through Hands: 4-6 months
- Prone Position Pushing Up and Shifting Weight to One Hand to Reach with Other Hand: 6-8 months
- Belly Crawling: 7-9 months
- Maintain Quadruped Position: 8-9 months
- Commando Crawling: 8-9 months
- Independent Reciprocal Crawling: 9-11 months
All milestones exist on a continuum as each child builds upon their motor development as a foundation. Motor Milestones, such as crawling, may develop earlier or later based on the child’s unique developmental sequence, strength, coordination, motivation and opportunities for practice.
Encourage Tummy Time
While playing on their stomach, children develop strength in arms, shoulders, upper back and trunk. All these muscles are necessary for crawling! For more Tummy Time Tips and Tricks read our post here!
Encourage Upper Body Weight Bearing
By allowing child opportunities to push up through arms, we can help develop strength and stability of shoulder girdle, facilitate tactile and proprioceptive input into hands, and allow the child opportunities to explore their environment with more control and independence.
Placing desirable objects within reach, allows the child opportunities to lift hands off support surface and manipulate objects. This will allow for weight shifting which is essential in the development of crawling. We can continue to challenge the child by moving objects farther from their reach, encouraging movement towards objects and facilitating independent mobility.
Promote Quadruped Position
By facilitating weight bearing through arms and knees we can promote stability and control in quadruped. Using bolster, wedge or therapy ball can encourage dynamic stability in quadruped and facilitate motor learning in a fun manner.
Change Up the Environment
Bring child to park, to a friend’s house, to an indoor play space. New environments, different floor surfaces and novel sensory experiences may help encourage development of motor skills.
Ensure Obstacle-Free Space to Explore
As parents and caregivers we are always mindful of ensuring the environment is a safe one. Once we begin to think about a child’s mobility we need to reevaluate each new space we expose them to. Make sure the floor is free from any obstacles or objects that can be potentially dangerous. A play tunnel can be a great safe space to promote crawling!
Crawling Red Flags
It is important to contact your Pediatrician or a Pediatric Physical Therapist if you notice the following by child’s first birthday:
- If child does not seem motivated to move independently
- If child is unable to bear weight through hands and/or knees
- If child seems to drag one side of body when crawling
- If child is not making incremental progress in motor milestone acquisition
Learn about Teaching Children to Stand!
Read more about further motor milestones and Teaching Children to Walk!
Learn more about Dinosaur Physical Therapy!