Dear Donna:  I’m from South Africa, and enjoying your site so much. Wondering if you can help.  My 8 month old baby boy started to belly crawl from 6 months and it seems like he is stuck there.  He makes about 4 regular crawling movements but then returns to his belly.  What can I do to help him?  Thanks so much for your site!


When do babies stop belly crawling and begin the hands and knees crawling?  There are a few developments of a baby that need to occur before he masters the motor skill of crawling on his hands and knees.  First, he must be stable in the hands and knees position.  Some babies get onto their hands and knees and their knees are wider than their hips.  It takes time for the to find the placement of their knees underneath their hip joints.  Second, his hands must be able to support some of his weight and allow him to shift his weight forward on them.  This is difficult if the fingers are still curled under.  A baby who has learned to press his open hands down on the floor in tummy time in well-prepared for this part of the skill development of crawling.

Third, this hands and knees position marks a significant achievement for baby.  This is the first time he has been supported only on his hands and knees.  Prior to this achievement, baby has had much of his body in contact with the floor through the motor skills of kicking, rolling, lifting the head, tummy time, and belly crawling.  It takes time for baby to develop the strength in this hands and knees position before he can move forward for long periods of time.  This is why babies often hands and knees crawl for only and few paces and then drop back down onto their belly for the familiar pattern of belly crawling.  They can get where they want to go much faster and they need more time to build in the hands and knees position.

Photos or video footage of your baby crawling will help me give you specific exercises for your baby.  Please send some in if you can, and thanks for writing! We  also need to remember that babies born early may need more time to strengthen their muscles since preemies usually have lower muscle tone.  And some babies just want to take their time.  I like to remind the mothers I work with that if I could be a baby again, I would spend a lot of time belly crawling.  It develops a lot of strength, opens up the front of the hip joints, and powerfully teaches the coordination used for crawling, walking, and running.  As a dance student for many years, these skills are an advantage as they are for athletes in many sports.

A week after receiving this email, the mother contacted me to tell me that the baby just began perfectly hands and knees crawling on a regular basis!  He just need a bit of time!  Congratulations to our Stellar Caterpillar in South Africa who has just mastered the important baby milestone of crawling!


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