First, your baby’s rolling, then sitting, and now trying to crawl. All of these development skills build on each other and take time to integrate.
Help them out by trying these tips:
- Try different supported weight-bearing positions on hands and knees to build strength and stability at their shoulder and hip joints.
Have them over your leg or a foam roller while they reach for a toy, just watch for the face plant when they get a bit confident. Weight-bearing also provides proprioceptive input (awareness of body position) to your baby’s muscles and joints, allowing them to coordinate and balance their movements. By assisting your baby in holding their weight, you let them receive the benefits of weight-bearing in a quadruped while they gain the muscle strength and control needed to reach and move about in this position.
- Rock steady. For babies that may have difficulties propelling forward when crawling, position your baby over your leg or foam roller and have them rock back and forth while they’re on their hands and knees. This helps them shift their weight from between their upper and lower extremities, getting them used to the feel of their body stacked over their arms.
- Copycat. Babies may need to see what crawling looks like before they try it. Get down on the ground and demonstrate it to them.
- PIVOT! Sitting and crawling go just about hand-in-hand. For your baby to transition from sitting to hands and knees, they need to shift their weight over to one side their hip and rotate their trunk to place their hands on the ground and roll onto their knees. Encourage this transition by putting their favorite toys slightly out of reach on either side.
- Sit and stretch. It may actually be easier for your little one to crawl forward from a seated position. Have them reach for objects in front of them while seated on the floor. To make it easier, you can have your baby sit on a slightly-raised surface or wedge (like a cushion or a step) as it forces them to shift their body weight forward.
- Get over it. A simple obstacle course can be the one activity that discourages all other forms of baby locomotion and initiates quadruped crawling. If they want to get their favorite object, have them maneuver over a few cushions or pillows. For babies to navigate over objects, they must get their tummy off the ground and their hands and knees under them. Yes, they may get frustrated, but it promotes problem-solving and motor planning. The taller the pillows are stacked, the harder it challenges their balance.
- Gonna get through it. Tunnels are wonderful since there is no other way to get through them other than to crawl. If you don’t have one handy, you can always make one using chairs or tables. You can motivate them by placing toys at the end in the center of the tunnel.
- Come and get me. Sometimes you are the best motivator for your baby. Have them try to chase you. You may have to get on their level and crawl away from them. As they get better at it, you chase after them.
Crawling, just like the developmental motor milestones before it, requires strength and coordination. Give your little one as much opportunity to weight-bear, build those muscles, and explore their environment.
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