Tummy time leads to crawling:
Now we keep going on about tummy time but hopefully, by now, you are starting to realise just why paediatric physios can’t get enough of the stuff! That’s right, tummy time will help develop your baby’s shoulder and neck muscles so they are strong enough for them to start moving. It’s very common for babies to learn to crawl by creeping forwards on their tummies or by commando crawling. You can practise this skill by placing bright, loud toys just out of their reach or by lying them on a sensory surface that makes a noise when they do – a space blanket is great for this.
Babies will start to practise crawling by pushing up into a plank or bear crawling position from their tummies, they will only stay here for a few seconds before face planting on the floor but it’s a sign that they are getting ready to move. You can try placing them on their hands and knees in a four-point position for play, they may need some support at their shoulders or hips at first. As they start to develop this position they will rock themselves backwards and forwards practising their movement.
You can also try helping them move into a four-point kneeling position. Most commonly they will push themselves back onto their knees from lying on their tummy or lunge forward into a crawling position from sitting. You can help your baby move into a four-point position from tummy lying by tucking their knees under their hips and encouraging their weight back towards their bottom.
Playing in different sitting positions helps your baby to develop their strength and start to move into a four-point position. A ring sitting position with their legs out in front with a slight bend at knee allows them to lean forward, placing toys out of reach will cause them to fall into a four-point position. Side sitting is another great position to develop core and shoulder strength and is a precursor for many transition movements such as sitting to kneeling or crawling.
Once your baby is confident with maintaining a four-point position and can get themselves into the position they will start to attempt crawling. The best way to encourage them is to use their favourite toys and place them just out of reach in front of them so they move forwards towards them, give your baby lots of praise when they move forward, this shows them they are doing something really clever and they will want to keep on trying. If they just can’t get the hang of moving themselves forward you can always help them by supporting them at their legs you can gently rock them back and forth so they get used to moving themselves forwards and back, then guide one leg forward, wait until they the opposite arm forward then switch to the other leg.
Some babies do not crawl and that’s completely fine as long as they are showing interest in moving in other ways. However, crawling is an important stage of development and a precursor to skills such as pulling to stand so it is a good idea to try and encourage them to crawl. Please contact a paediatric physiotherapist if your baby is not showing any signs of independent movement e.g rolling, moving to sitting, or any form of crawling by the age of nine months.