Tips to help baby crawl and walk
Babies love to move around, and it's not only great for developing their muscles and bones, it's good for their brains, too
Clear some space – it's time to help your baby become mobile! All babies develop at different stages: some start crawling at six months, others at over a year. Of course, some leave out the crawling stage altogether and either bottom shuffle or go straight to pulling themselves up to cruise the furniture and walk. You can encourage your little one to get moving by following these tips.
Try tummy time
As babies are now put to sleep on their backs (it reduces the risk of cot death), it's important that you give your baby lots of tummy time during the day. It helps them build strength in their stomach, shoulders, neck and arm muscles eventually to push up and crawl. Of course, their leg muscles have been getting stronger, too, with all that kicking they've been trying, getting them ready for walking. Spread out a rug or play mat, put your baby down on their tummy, and scatter a few toys slightly out of reach to encourage your little one to move towards them. Dangle a toy above their head to help them push up. They may start to tummy crawl first, pushing themselves along with their arms, then progress to pushing up on their hands and knees. Crawling helps opposite sides of the body to work together, so your baby's hand-eye coordination will improve.
Laying your baby over a cushion, so their knees and hands are on the floor, may help them start to crawl once they get their balance. If they can sit without support, try sitting them on a cushion, as they might push off from that position. Don't rush them, though. If they're not interested, just leave practising until they are.
Let your baby move towards crawling
Sometimes you'll need to put your little one in a safe place – if you're busy getting dinner ready, for example. But don't get into the habit of putting them in their baby seat, buggy, crawler or high chair too often. Your baby needs freedom of movement to build the muscles that will help them crawl and walk. Put them on a rug or play mat whenever you can.
Give your baby lots to play with
Your baby will be wanting to grab things and move around, so make sure they have lots of clean, safe things to play with. There are some great toys available to help encourage them to crawl. Give them a musical ball to crawl after, a tunnel to move through or an activity mat to explore. Choose bright colours and textures to keep their interest. You don't need to spend a fortune. Playing with crinkly paper is great fun, and an old cardboard box can be a great place for a little one to explore.
Keep your baby safe on the move
Once your baby starts crawling, there will be no stopping them. It's great exercise and will tire them out, too, but they can get into mischief, so supervise your little one at all times. Make sure your house is baby-friendly.
By Julia Shaw