Learning to crawl – it’s a massive milestone in any little baby’s life, and parents strive to help their child achieve it. However, if you’re anything like I was, once they have got there, you wish they hadn’t! Nothing is safe anymore, and you can’t leave them for a moment. If you do, they’ve got their head in a cupboard, or have crawled over to dismantle your entire collection of Twilight DVDs…
Despite this, we all want our little ones to get on the move. My daughter and son both learnt to crawl before they were seven months old; my son perhaps a fraction earlier than his sister. He suffered from reflux, and so spent a lot of time on his tummy; which gave him a great start in his crawling life.
There are certainly a few tricks that you can employ to encourage your baby to get those little knees a movin’:
Give them tummy time
This is the best way to help them achieve their crawling milestone. They need time on their tummy to get them used to pushing up on their arms, and exploring the world about them starting facedown! They also need to build up the muscles in their arms so they can support their own weight. Some babies aren’t too happy on their tummies at first, so don’t push it. Introduce tummy time once in a while, but gently, otherwise you could find your little one rebelling!
To help with tummy time, you can get textured mats, which will give your baby something to touch, and taste while they are on the floor. It’s no fun just looking at the carpet all the time.
My children both loved mats with mirrors embedded into them – there is nothing like trying to work out who the other child actually is! But do be prepared for a fair bit of dribble on the mirrors.
In addition, give them time sitting up too – they need to build all their muscles and co-ordination to get moving early. We used cushions around them for support, as well as play nests to help them.
Put toys just out of reach
Give them some impetus to get moving. Place a toy just that little bit too far away so they are keen to move. Let them try and reach it, and strain to start their journey. Don’t push it too far though, do give it to them in the end, otherwise you’ll get one frustrated little monkey!
One game both my two loved is to have a toy box slightly tipped up just a little bit in front of them; so they would be able to drag themselves very slowly along to see what was in it, and pull some of the toys out. This was a great game, and my daughter in particular could spend ages playing it. Vary the toys, for an even better time.
Encourage them to come to you too
Remember that YOU are one of the most exciting things in your baby’s life.
Don’t forget to get down to their level, and talk to them, enticing them to move to you with your voice, and hand gestures. They will be desperate to get to you for a cuddle!
Invest in toys designed to encourage crawling
There are a lot of toys on the market that are designed specifically to encourage crawling:
- Balls with lights and buttons to press
- Toys that deliberately change direction when pushed, and move around to encourage your baby to follow
- Cylinders that have abacus’ on them, but can roll away from your baby
- Drums that can be bashed and then rolled away too, and
- Rattles designed to be pushed away from baby so they can then try to get them.
It is worth taking time in a few shops to see which you think will appeal to your baby, and investing in a few. My kids loved balls; any kind, just standard ones, or the ones made to encourage learning to crawl. We would spend a while pushing them away, and then seeing whether the kids were in the mood to go get them!
Don’t obsess over it
Your child will crawl in time. A sure-fire way to delay it is to get so stressed about it happening that you push your baby too hard, and they get frustrated or cross with the time they are spending on their tummy learning to crawl. Leaving them there for too long will only be counter-productive in the end.
It’s best to be relaxed, and chill out about the crawling, and your baby will too.
It’ll come in time. In the meantime, enjoy the fact that when you leave a room and your baby is still learning to crawl so will be in the same place you left them when you come back!
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Note: this article first appeared on the Yahoo Contribution Network, authored by Helen Neale. It has been reproduced by permission of the site, where it is no longer available.