Updated: Aug 31
What is tummy time? When should babies crawl? For new parents, this can be confusing to understand, especially because every baby is a little different. We answer your questions with the help of some expert resources.
Our focus at Crawligator is to ensure that all babies start life right through proper physical development, gross motor skills development and strength that are the first steps towards walking and even proper posture later in life. So, we've compiled all of the questions you have about tummy time and crawling to provide one comprehensive guide to your baby's development.
What is tummy time?
Tummy time is more than just play time. It is one of the most important physical development activities for babies. By placing your baby on its tummy, for a specific amount of time per day, you're encouraging them to begin building muscles that hold the head up and strengthen the core to eventually push themselves up. It is also an opportunity for your baby to obtain sensory skills through the world around them. Tummy time is the first step towards crawling and ongoing physical development as they age.
Why is tummy time important?
Some people believe that crawling is not essential, but pediatric physical therapists says it is an important, if not crucial, part of your baby's development. Tummy time leads to crawling and promotes a baby's development of reciprocal motion, sensory processing, and strength. Tummy time is important for babies because it encourages muscle building and strengthening that can lead to crawling and then walking.
What are the benefits of tummy time?
Develops shoulder and trunk muscles
Increases hip range of motion and strength
Enhances gross and fine motor skills
Improves postural control
Teaches spatial cognition or awareness of the environment
Your baby needs each of these markers for higher-level developmental activities.
When should tummy time start?
Experts says that for newborns to early infant crawlers (age 0-9 months), tummy time is key in building the body strength that leads to walking and other physical developments.
When is it safe to start tummy time for a newborn?
Some experts suggest that tummy time begin with newborns, but in simple ways. Simply having your baby lie on your chest can be a nice way for you to bond with your baby and let them become comfortable on their tummy.
Tips for tummy time
Make the time and keep it simple – start as soon as you bring your baby home. Holding your baby, facing you on your chest while lying on your back counts as tummy time
Some babies may only tolerate a few seconds of belly time initially. As your baby grows and gains strength, he or she will be able to handle longer periods of tummy time. Start with a few minutes a day and slowly increase the amount of time
If your baby is fussy during tummy time, don't force it. Pick them up and try again a little later.
Get your baby comfortable on the hard floor and increase that time as your baby grows
Start with short, supervised periods throughout the day when the baby is awake
As they get used to tummy time, surround your baby with a few items with different sensory elements that they might reach for.
To help facilitate movement, block off an area with gated units, and you can put your baby on the Crawligator
When do babies crawl?
The question of what age should babies be crawling is a complex one.
Most babies begin showing actions of trying to crawl at around 6 months. This includes pushing up and rocking motions to move the body. By the time a baby is about 9 months, they can be crawling. It is important to remember that every baby develops differently and may crawl earlier or later - after 11 months - although studies show that about half of all babies are crawling at 8 months. There is no definitive time when babies should be crawling, and no specific age
How can I help teach my baby to crawl?
It's understandable that parents want to help babies crawl and encourage them to achieve infant developmental milestones, but, again, each baby is different. They will react to different stimuli and motivated by different things.
According to Pathways, a nonprofit empowering parents to understand and encourage their baby’s development to keep them on track or catch potential delays early, there are some simple ways to help encourage your baby to crawl.
Use Tummy Time Often
Do Push-Ups. Parents can get on the floor with baby and demonstrate push-ups. Baby can watch you lift yourself up on your arms and baby can eventually copy your movements. You can also help them by providing support under their chest.
Teach Baby to Rock on Hands and Knees If baby is already on hands and knees teach them how to rock back and forth to get them used to balancing in this position. Play music in the background with a rhythm they can rock to or sing a song like, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Position Toys Out of Reach
Encourage Crawling to Their Favorite Toy
What to avoid
According to the website ZeroToThree this what to avoid while helping your baby learn to crawl
Baby walkers. Not only are they potentially dangerous, they limit practice time on the floor learning to crawl. Walkers can also hamper muscle development.
Spending lots of time in baby seats and baby carriers. Babies learn how to crawl, and later pull up to stand and then walk, when they have plenty of time each day to play, move, and explore.
Pushing your child to learn to crawl. Pressing a child to develop a skill he isn’t ready for can actually slow the learning process.
When to be concerned.
We'll say it again, it's really important to know that baby development can be very individualized and while most babies tend to crawl around the same age, your baby is unique and may hit milestones at different rates. Most babies crawl between 6-12 months and some even bypass crawling and go straight to standing, cruising and walking.
If you are concerned that your baby is at risk for delay, Pathways has helpful information to help you best understand your baby and its needs.
Keeping curious crawlers safe
It's an important reminder that as your baby becomes more mobile that curiosity will take over leading to potentially dangerous situations, so be sure to baby proof your home to ensure that little finger stay out of sockets and away from toxic chemicals and heavy bookshelves. We recommend this Baby Proofing Checklist from The Bump.