Parents anxiously await for their little ones to begin crawling. But, when and how that happens can look very different.

Some babies pop right up on all fours to do a traditional crawl. Others prefer an army crawl – pulling themselves forward with their arms and using legs to push them forward. And some seem to prefer one leg more than the other as they zip across the room getting to an interesting toy that’s just out of reach.

Matt Fishel, DO, a pediatrician at THH Pediatrics, reassures parents that, when it comes to crawling, just about anything goes.

“Not every baby does the traditional crawl on their hands and knees,” he explains. “As long as a child is mobile, has good movement, strength and tone in both arms and legs, how they get around doesn’t really matter.”

Dr. Fishel answers more commonly asked questions about crawling.

When do babies start to crawl?

Babies typically start crawling around seven or eight months. Some crawl as early as six months while others wait until closer to the nine-month mark. If your little one isn’t crawling – or close to it – at the nine-month wellness exam, your pediatrician may double-check other areas of development, including if your little one can roll over or sit up on their own.

If there are any gross motor delays, then your baby may be referred to a physical therapist to help your child develop the strength and muscle tone necessary to be mobile.

What can parents do to encourage crawling?

Tummy time helps babies build the motor skills and muscle strength they need for a wide range of developmental milestones, including crawling, sitting independently, rolling over and – ultimately – walking.

Dr. Fishel also encourages parents to let their little one play independently on the floor. He recommends creating a safe, padded area that allows them to explore and figure out how to move around.

“Put toys around your baby that are just out of arms reach and resist temptation to hand your baby anything she reaches for,” he says. “Children learn through a little bit of frustration.”

Instead, Dr. Fishel tells parents to get down on the floor with their babies and cheer them on as they learn how to become mobile.

Keep your little one safe

Another important step in getting your baby ready to crawl is baby proofing your home – well before your little one is mobile.

“Check the safety of your home on a regular basis when you have little ones,” says Dr. Fishel. “That means looking for anything that presents a danger – from cleaning supplies, unsecured furniture or uncovered outlets.”

Learn more about how you can baby-proof your home or talk to your child’s pediatrician for more baby-proofing tips.

Need a pediatrician? Call 800-642-0101 or visit our website to find one near you.