As parents, we always want to know if our child is reaching all the developmental milestones in their first year of life that they should be reaching and if at all, they are doing it at the right time, be it holding a bottle on their own or introducing them to solid foods. And crawling is certainly the icing on the milestones that we might even begin to feel some anxiety if we believe that something is not right with the baby then.
According to reuters.com, Meghan Slining of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her observations team repeatedly evaluated 215 babies, 125 of whom were found to be overweight, out of whom 20% had delayed motor skills. That is about 31 of the babies. The team also found that of the 75 babies with high average measures of belly, upper back skin fat, and upper arm, 23% (17 of the infants) had delayed motor skills. Generally, crawling and eventually walking skills are developed by 9-12months. By then, 9-month-olds can sit independently without support and show signs of crawling or pulling up, but 9 months old with low motor skills might not sit steadily for one minute without support or even roll from their back to their stomach let alone an attempt to crawl.
Parents might wonder what’s the case if a baby is not crawling when they should by 9 months of age, and they will want to know how to help as well as what kind of things they should be worried about when it comes to their baby crawling as we will see in this article.
Reasons why your 9-month-old isn’t crawling
If your baby has already achieved other physical developmental milestones for her 9 months of age like sitting up from laying belly down on the floor or sitting without support, then she is probably doing fine.
However, there are reasons, as shown below, why children may not be crawling when they should, many of which are things parents should not worry about.
Everyone should strive to be at a healthy weight, but it is particularly important for babies. To reach certain milestones like pulling up or crawling, being at the right weight is something that they need to do.
Baby’s feet are curved inwards
Curved feet are one of the things we parents should be looking out for before the baby starts crawling. As a result of being crumbled in the womb, it can be discouraging for the baby, and it can impede the little one’s regular movements.
If the natural extension does not happen by the time she is ready to roll on her belly, and that includes the prosperity to get up on her knees.
The baby was born prematurely
With most pregnancies lasting approximately 40 weeks, a baby born before the 37th week of gestation is typically considered a premature baby, and this is something we should keep in mind when trying to figure out when our little ones should be reaching certain milestones.
9 months old premature babies are not likely to be doing the same things that non- premature 9-month-olds are doing, according to WebMD. That means that preemies are very likely to need a little bit of extra time to begin doing certain things, and crawling and pulling up might be one of them.
Not enough tummy time
Research shows that there’s plenty of things that parents should know about tummy time, including the fact that it can help kids reach the crawling stage.
But, many parents do not lay their children on their stomachs because they are likely to develop SIDS.
The baby’s clothes are uncomfortable
It stands to reason that wearing uncomfortable clothes will limit a baby’s mobility. Your little one will be discouraged from crawling or pulling up if she doesn’t feel at ease and confident about her movements be it from socks that are too loose or onesies that are too tight.
According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, diapers are another impediment parents rarely think of that might limit their baby’s progress in mobility since they introduce bulk between the legs, potentially exacerbating the toddler’s poor balance and wide stance.
It’s possible that crawling can be affected by the diapers your baby wears since it is an activity that requires the use of the legs.
The baby’s feet are too flat
Flat feet in babies are more common than we think, and it’s another physical impediment that may delay a baby’s crawling and eventually getting up on her feet but they usually don’t have flat feet for very long.
According to parenting.firstcry.com, if your little one has flat feet, that can cause her to start crawling much later past her 9 months mark than babies who don’t have flat feet, but a big reprieve to parents is that flat-footed children usually develop arches as they grow.
Your 9-month-old is a non-crawler
Todaysparent.com suggests that some of these sweet munchkins are just born non-crawlers. In light of reduced tummy time that parents are encouraged to practice, some babies go directly from dragging themselves with their hands or scooting to pulling themselves up when they are ready to start exploring their surroundings further.
Even though occupational therapists consider crawling a cornerstone of babies’ physical development, it is not considered a milestone because not all those little ones will crawl.
And as much as others believe that the crawling phase is essential for babies gross and fine motor development later in life and that skipping it may cause certain delays in the future, the truth is it is only considered a problem after a certain age and only when they have not discovered other ways to move about when placed on the floor, says kidsinthehouse.com.
The baby is not given enough time to try
In some cases, we parents don’t just allow the baby to crawl and improve muscles strength and movement. The truth is babies need to have their own time when they are not in a person’s arms.
It’s not just a parent’s problem, but grandparents and older siblings are guilty as charged of doing this as well. Babies need to be allowed to explore their surroundings with supervision.
The baby’s personality
Just like us, babies too have their personalities. And just like some of us who are very active and in a hurry to do things, others are a bit laidback and even some infants are just like that as well, and I highly think that we should consider our personality when wondering why our little ones are not crawling or reaching other deserved milestones.
Children who are a bit more laid back will likely not be in a rush to reach certain milestones but their parents should relax instead of worrying about it because kids like this will eventually start to crawl as documented by todaysparent.com.
The baby moves in other ways
Some babies out there are perfectly happy with finding other ways for themselves to move about like using their bottom to scoot across the floor as well as other ways in which they can show signs that they are becoming mobile.
While it is understandable for parents to worry about such things, they don’t need to especially if the baby is meeting all the other milestones that all little ones are supposed to meet like learning what they can do with their hands as well as pulling themselves up. They should be fine if they are doing all that.
Other reasons why your 9-month-old isn’t crawling that you should worry about
Below are 5 reasons that may be the cause of concern if a baby is not crawling or pulling up by the age of 9 months.
Baby’s legs are stiff (Hypertonicity)
Also known as Stiff Baby Syndrome, hypertonicity can severely hinder a child’s movements. katherinerosman.com says that it occurs when the baby’s muscles are extremely tight and it is a serious health matter because it is not only a physical matter but a brain and nerve issue as well.
You may realize that they have difficulty moving from one point to another and may also cross their legs when being picked up.
Most babies born with SBS are unable to stretch their hands and legs and the only time their bodies can relax is when they are sleeping and in extreme cases, it even becomes hard for the baby to swallow.
The good news is that if treatment starts immediately after diagnosis, babies can reroute their brains, but not all little ones with stiff legs are affected by SBS.
The baby’s legs are weak
While we have babies that are hypertonic, we also have others who are the complete opposite of that. While hypertonic infants are very rigid, hypotonic ones have very poor muscle tone.
Also known as Floppy Muscle Syndrome, this can be easily visible at birth because it affects a child’s muscles and brain as well as a big impact on their motor nerves as well.
Some of the notable signs that present themselves in children with this condition include delay in crawling and other milestones, in addition to poor reflexes and poor head control and it can affect children of any age.
It could be cerebral palsy
While delayed crawling is not something that moms and dads should worry about, it can also be a sign that your little one has some form of a developmental disorder such as cerebral palsy and you should consult your pediatrician.
Cerebralpalsyguide.com points that this can cause children to have delays in many things including crawling or pulling up. Other indicators of cerebral palsy are failure to smile and having issues moving their eyes.
It could be a hip problem
A delay in crawling could mean a sign of a serious problem like congenital hip dislocation and other serious conditions as well. Speak to your baby’s doctor to ascertain that your little explorer is well.
The baby is late in other milestones
If your child is not crawling but reaching the rest of her milestone journey well, then you don’t need to worry as they are fine but if the child in question is experiencing a delay with those other developmental milestones, that delay can keep kids from starting to crawl or pull up.
Tips to help your baby crawl
There’s no need to worry if you haven’t noticed your baby crawling by 9 months or so. Babies do crawl differently and begin crawling at different ages and no matter how or when your baby does it, it will be an exciting time for you and even us too.
There’s no solid evidence that children who learn to crawl at older ages have any other developmental problems as a result.
So to get your little one moving, follow the tips here below:
- Keep your baby on its back during sleep time but encourage as much time as possible on the tummy when she is awake. This is a great way to ensure their safety from SIDs and while helping them build the strength, they need to crawl.
- Keep a very close eye on your child’s mobility and encourage movements with simple exercises. You should contact your baby’s pediatrician if you notice that your little one is not crawling or attempting to pull themselves when they are way past the time they should.
- In addition to making sure that your baby gets some time out of a person’s arms, you can also reduce the time they spend on walkers and any other seat that will keep the baby confined to one spot, and the same goes for bouncers too.
- We can not change our kid’s attitudes, but we can encourage them to move by ensuring a safe environment and stimulating activities like mimicking crawling moves, listening to music together as well as play dates with older babies.
- Encourage babies with weight issues to move by playing with them and placing their favorite toy or objects at a reasonable distance for them to move towards.
- Ensure that your little one is wearing comfortable clothes she can move around in with ease, and they should be clothes that allow her to grip with her toes. You can also allow your baby to crawl naked for a few minutes every day to encourage increased mobility.
- If you happen to notice that your baby is not mobile at all, you may want to stimulate movement with simple exercises like stretching out the legs, placing the palms of your hands behind her feet when she is on all fours, and also supporting her while sitting up.
- With premature babies, follow all the suggestions for children born to term but do not force the baby to crawl if she is still not physically ready to move. Do not compare her to babies born at full-term.
- Call your pediatrician immediately if you suspect your baby to be affected by SBS. The doctor will most likely refer your baby to a physical therapist who will work both with you and your baby, and the sessions may last for the duration of the development.
- Seek out a compassionate pediatrician who has plenty of experience in dealing with and treating developmental motor disorders such as cerebral palsy.
- Monitor your child to see if she is reaching any other important milestone timely.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When do babies start crawling?
Typically most babies will begin to crawl between 6 to 10 months, but some of them will similarly skip the crawling phase altogether and simply go straight to pulling up and eventually walking. You will know your mini-me is ready to crawl when she starts to do mini push-ups, lifting or propping herself up on both arms and knees.
Is delayed crawling in babies normal?
Yes. Just because your girl hasn’t crawled by the time she is 9 months old doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with her. She is still within the typical age range for developing the required skill. Some babies never even crawl at all as they go straight to standing, cruising then walking.
But, if your baby is not rolling from her stomach to her back and vice versa, getting herself into a sitting position from lying tummy on the floor, to sitting up for a few minutes without support, then you should consult with your pediatrician.
Do babies go backward before crawling?
Your baby’s first jump forward might be a big scoot backward as your little one tries to figure out how to do that arm-leg, leg-arm crawling movement and for a while, they might cry in frustration as they somehow find themselves scooting away from the very person or object they are determined to reach.
This process of learning how to crawl differs among babies as they work out ways to move that are unique to each of them. Some ways they learn to move include…
The ” I’ll have the usual”. This is the usual classic crawl- alternating the hand and knee on either side and go-go-go.
The “Crab”. Just like the crab at the beach bends one knee and extends the opposite leg to scoot forward, so does your baby.
The ” commando”. Lookout. Here comes the commando. This crawler lies flat on her belly and drags her body forward using her arms.
The”Rolling Wonder”. Who needs to crawl when rolling can get me where I need to be quick?
The” Take it in stride” ninja. Some babies have no time to waste. They will skip crawling and go right to walking. Yeeeeeey here I come.
When do you get concerned about your baby’s development?
As discussed earlier in the article, it is perfectly normal for babies to reject crawling in favor of other modes of locomotion so you shouldn’t worry merely because your baby isn’t crawling when they should. You should feel reassured that your baby’s skills are on track as long as they show progress over time by developing other ways of moving from place to place.
But, if they are not making any sort of locomotion progress by the age of 12 months, or they are showing evidence of weakness or poor control on either side of the body, then you should call your pediatrician. Remember early intervention can get your baby right back on track.
What can you do to support your baby?
The best way to support your baby is by getting down on the floor on all your fours and encouraging her to approach you using smiles and keeping eye contact.
Also, try to provide resistance by placing your hands behind your baby’s feet so your baby can push against them if she is struggling to learn the secret of forward propulsion, which is trying to move forward but pushing backward instead.
All babies develop differently, and no two children are alike. It is important to show progress rather than strictly and hurriedly archive milestones.
Some babies may pull themselves up and crawl at the age of 6 months, and others will completely avoid crawling at 9 months. So don’t compare your baby’s progress with other children’s development or become overly anxious if your baby doesn’t crawl by 9 months.
When it comes to crawling or pulling up and even walking, some children are slow learners but they don’t stay too far behind for long.
A good rule of thumb is to wait and assess your baby’s progress for two or three months beyond the milestone before you start panicking.
In the meantime, just make sure she has plenty of chances to practice those skills but, most importantly, have fun with her.