When Do Babies Start Crawling?

You may expect your baby’s development to follow a predictable path. You might think they’ll crawl before they walk, but that’s not always true. Tomitra Latimer, MD, Interim Division Head of Advanced General Pediatrics & Primary Care at Lurie Children’s, explains that infant development varies.

“Some babies skip crawling and move straight to pulling up to stand and cruising,” she says. When babies cruise, they stand up and walk while holding onto furniture or other objects.

That could be why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed baby crawling from its list of developmental milestones, Dr. Latimer says. A developmental milestone is a behavior or skill that 75% of babies typically have at a certain age. Since not all babies crawl, crawling doesn’t meet the requirement.

Babies and Movement

Every baby is different, and theres a typical range for developmental milestones, says Dr. Latimer. But all babies must develop certain physical strengths before they can begin to move — whether they crawl or not. These include:

  • Arm strength
  • Trunk (chest, abdomen and pelvis) support

It takes a lot of arm strength for your baby to raise their upper body when theyre on their tummy. Babies must also support their trunk to hold a sitting position by themselves.

Some babies will scoot or crawl on their hands and knees, but its all driven by the arms and trunk support, Dr. Latimer says.

When do infants crawl?

If a baby is going to crawl, it will typically happen between 8 and 12 months. It could happen a bit earlier or a little bit later, Dr. Latimer says.

Are there different types of crawls?

Just as not all babies crawl, not all babies crawl in the same way. Common baby crawling types include:

  • Bear crawl: Babies use their arms and legs but keep elbows and knees straight.
  • Classic crawl: Babies get up on their hands and knees to move across the floor.
  • Commando crawl: Babies stay on their tummy and pull themselves along with their forearms.
  • Crab crawl: Babies use their hands to move backward or sideways.
  • Scoot: Babies sit on their bottom and use their arms to move.

How can I help my baby crawl?

Encouraging your baby to crawl starts with positive interaction, says Dr. Latimer. Talk with your baby, read, sing — all of these are great ways to interact with your infant. Theres plenty you can do to make it interesting to get from point A to point B,” she says.

Other ways you can help your baby crawl are to: 

  • Engage with your baby: Sit a short distance away from your infant to encourage crawling and movement skills. Place a bright toy on the floor next to you and encourage them to come and get it.
  • Get down on their level: Infants love to look at faces. Lie down on the floor nearby, smile and talk to your baby to encourage them to move toward you.
  • Play music or peekaboo: Toys that play music may draw your baby’s attention. You can also hide and play peekaboo with your baby.

Your baby also uses arm strength and trunk support to pull up to standing, cruise and walk. As a baby takes steps with or without a caregiver, theyre using leg strength. But initially, its the arms that do the heavy lifting,” she says.

Be sure to give your baby plenty of time sitting up on their own (when theyre able) or on their tummy. Make sure your little one has a safe place to practice crawling, cruising, pulling up and walking. 

Babies need to practice their skills,” Dr. Latimer says. They need space that is fun and inviting but also safe enough for them to explore and not risk harm.”

Keep your home safe for a baby on the move

Dr. Latimer says the time to baby-proof your home is well before your baby may begin to crawl. She recommends getting down on the floor to see things from your babys point of view. 

Here are some important babyproofing tips: 

  • Cover electrical outlets with protectors.
  • Install latches on low cabinets, especially those where you store cleaning products or medications.
  • Look for furniture or objects with sharp edges and cover the edges with special babyproofing guards to prevent injury if your baby bumps into them.
  • Put gates at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Secure furniture that could topple to the wall.

Watch for developmental milestones

Your baby isnt necessarily behind in development just because theyre not crawling, Dr. Latimer says. Talk to your childs doctor (pediatrician) if you have concerns. Babies are not all the same, and there are ranges of whats typical,” she says.

By 9 months old, babies should be able to:

  • Lift their head and upper body
  • Pull themselves to a sitting position
  • Sit by themselves
  • Use their hands and arms to reach out, grab objects and transfer objects from one hand to another

These steps are really important, regardless of whether an infant is crawling,” says Dr. Latimer. But be sure to bring your baby to all scheduled well-child visits. Your pediatrician can observe them and make sure theyre developing as expected.

Learn more about Advanced General Pediatrics and Primary Care at Lurie Childrens.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get health tips from our pediatric experts, news about ground-breaking research, and feel-good moments delivered right to your inbox.

Subscribe Now
Newborn Tips

Additional Blog Posts

Bedwetting in Kids

Bedwetting is a common issue, affecting millions of children. Learn about causes, how to help your child stay dry at night and when to talk to a healthcare provider.

Read More

Poison Prevention: Keeping Kids Safe

Did you know many common household items can be dangerous for kids? Learn all about common poisonous items, warning signs and what to do in an emergency.

Read More

Pediatric MRI Sedation Frequently Asked Questions

Should your child have an MRI with or without anesthesia? Our experts answer all of your questions about anesthesia to help you understand what factors to consider when making a decision. 

Read More