Most babies typically begin creeping around the six- to seven-month mark. However, the range of age is wide in terms of when this may actually occur. Some babies begin to creep as early as five months, while others may take as long as eight or nine months. Creeping requires a reasonable amount of trunk and upper / lower extremity strength, so have some patience and do not rush your little one! We have provided a few techniques below to help you help baby get moving.
Please note: if you are worried that your baby is not as active as she should be, talk with your pediatrician. Trust your instincts!
Before we get to the techniques, let's define the difference between two terms that are often used interchangeably: creeping and crawling .
Creeping isdefined as moving around on the floor with the stomach in direct contact with the ground. Some babies develop the ability to creep in a circle first; while others, whose arms are stronger than their legs, are able to creep backwards first.
Crawling is defined as moving on hands and knees with the stomach up off of the ground. One type of crawling, known as commando crawling, may be seen when an infant moves around on the floor on forearms while dragging his hips behind him.
The following are some strategies for initiating and developing creeping skills in your baby:
One often overlooked aspect of developing the ability to creep is time spent on the floor. As long as your baby has adequate head control then she should be spending at least one hour each day, every day, on the floor. This activity has many benefits such as building strength of the arms and chest muscles as baby pushes her chest up off the floor. While in this position, baby will also have an opportunity to strengthen her neck muscles as she lifts her head to look around the room. Some babies may not like or be able to tolerate tummy time for extended periods. If this is your baby, start small and gradually increase the amount of time spent on the floor. Your baby will be able to tolerate being on her stomach if she sees you doing it with her, so lie down on your stomach face-to-face with your baby and show her how much fun tummy time is!
Once your baby is able to tolerate being on her stomach for an extended length of time, you are ready to help her to start moving.
Creeping in a Circle
- Position baby on the floor propped on her forearms.
- Place a small, brightly colored toy directly in front of her just out of reach.
- Move the toy towards your baby's side in a semi-circle so that she has to turn her head to continue looking at the toy.
- Encourage her to shift her body weight from one hand to the other and try to reach the toy by pivoting on her stomach.
- As she begins moving towards the toy, move it so that it is just out of her reach. Continue moving the toy until she has crept in a complete circle towards one side of her body. Allow her to play with the toy for a short amount of time and then repeat this process towards the opposite side of her body. Repeat this activity so that baby makes five complete circles to both the right and left sides of her body.
Practice creeping in a circle every day for about one week. Once baby is confident in her ability to complete this activity, she is then ready to attempt to creep forward.
Creeping Forward (Double Leg Assist)
- Position baby on her stomach on the floor with a small toy just out of reach.
- Once she is engaged with the toy, kneel behind her and slowly bend both of her knees.
- Place your hands under the bottom of her feet and provide her with a firm surface from which to push off of.
- Encourage her to reach forward to get the toy by dragging herself forward with her hands and pushing off of your hands with her feet.
When baby is able to creep forward using the above technique, she is ready to move forward and attempt to creep with assistance provided to one leg at a time.
Creeping Forward (Single Leg Assist)
- Place baby on her stomach with a bright colored toy in front of her just out of reach.
- Once she is interested in and focused on the toy, bend one of her knees.
- Place your hand under the foot of the leg with the bent knee and encourage her to push off from your hand as she reaches for the toy by extending or straightening that leg.
- When baby has moved forward, switch to her other leg and bend that knee and repeat the above process.
- Continue forward alternating between her right and left legs.
After about a month or two of practice on the floor creeping in a circle and creeping forward, baby should be ready to start learning how to crawl. Stay tuned for future articles on techniques for helping your baby through this next stage of development.