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‘When Raghav was 6 months old, I thought he was ready for crawling, just like his older brother. Is this not the age when babies explore their surroundings through crawling? But he showed no signs of it. Instead he rolled from one end to the other and by the time he was nine months old, he started taking the support of furniture to stand. I was a little upset as I had expected him to crawl but my paediatrician was not. It was surprising to see him trying to walk at just 14 months!’ This is the case of Neha, mother of two healthy children.
Neha’s story is not very unusual as experts believe that not all little babies crawl. Some babies skip the entire crawling milestone and start standing, cruising or walking by holding objects. This is not a problem as long as your baby coordinates each side of the body and uses the hand and leg muscles to move along.
Babies usually start crawling between 7 to 10 months. Since most babies crawl, this is considered as one of the major development milestones. Some babies skip crawling and start cruising which is also a development milestone. Cruising is holding the furniture on the way and moving sideways. This develops motor skills and makes the baby achieve goals of reaching from one point to another. Babies who start to crawl first also cruise at a later stage.
Some experts believe that due to the threat of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), the tummy time for babies has been reduced by parents. Earlier babies would even sleep on their tummies but this resulted in SIDS. Thus parents prefer not to put a baby to sleep on their tummy and reduce tummy playtime as well. Due to this, crawling might develop at a very later stage or the child may even skip crawling.
Some babies might have certain stiffness or weakness in the upper body which might prevent them from crawling. This needs to be checked by the baby’s paediatrician. If this is a problem, then the baby will have difficulty in standing and walking or cruising as well. They might develop it at a very later stage than other kids, but in the long run this might create some learning disabilities.
Some babies skip the traditional crawling method but adopt other methods of crawling. This might include the tummy shifts, bum shuffling using the buttocks to move forward, some use their hands and legs to propel themselves forward while in a seated position and the most famous is the commando or army crawl- where the baby lies flat on tummy and propels himself forward with his elbows. Some babies also adopt to rolling from one place to another instead of the traditional crawl.
An increasing number of babies never crawl at all, pediatricians say, going directly from sitting to toddling. The researchers have found no medical consequence to this development change. The babies are normal in every other way, and they sit up and walk at the same time as other babies who did not skip crawling. It was found that almost 70% of babies in America have no or very less tummy time. If the tummy time is not present, the world around the baby cannot be seen crawling in the traditional way. Thus the baby will resort to other methods of moving around.
If this is the case and your baby is not crawling, then you need to take your baby to the doctor and see what they recommend.
Otherwise, if your baby has not yet started to crawl but is able to cruise around, move around holding on to furniture, or has a different way of crawling; there is nothing to be worried about.