When Do Babies Crawl? Here's What Pediatricians Have to Say

Crawling is a major milestone in a baby's life — and in a parent's life, too. After all, once your little one becomes mobile, baby-proofing kicks into high gear, and walking is on the horizon.

Every baby moves at their own pace (literally), and there's a lot of variety from baby to baby. But like all developmental milestones, there's a typical age range for when your baby will start crawling. So when should you expect them to start moving on all fours? Well, POPSUGAR spoke to pediatricians to find out typical crawl times for babies and what you should you do if your baby isn't crawling as quickly as expected.

What Are Normal Crawling Timespans?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) addresses crawling in a greater conversation about movement. That includes sitting up without support, flipping over, and crawling, scooting, and slithering.

In general, the AAP says babies start to become more mobile when they're 8 months old, although that could mean rolling, scooting, or crawling. "Babies will usually crawl anywhere from 7 to about 10 months, but there is a range," says Danelle Fisher, MD, a pediatrician and chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. "The average age is 9 months, but all babies are different," she adds.

It's important to note that crawling was recently removed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's developmental milestones. "There were too many variations in timing of when babies might crawl," explains Lori Storch Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Bay Street Pediatrics in Westport, CT. She also offers this caveat with crawling: "Some babies don't crawl at all and go from rolling to eventually just walking."

How to Encourage Your Baby's Mobility

If you're ready for your baby to start crawling, the AAP says there are a few things you can do to encourage them to get moving. One method includes trying to present your baby with something interesting that's just out of reach to get them to move toward it. The AAP says you could also create mini obstacle courses for baby to get around by using pillows, boxes, and sofa cushions — under your close supervision, of course.

Common Factors That Can Cause Crawling Delays

Pediatricians say there are a few factors that can be at play if your little one isn't crawling yet.

  • Your baby has trunk or motor weakness. If your baby has a weak core or motor skills, they will have difficulty crawling. "This is important for pediatricians to pick up on," Fisher says. They can suggest certain exercises that promote better core and motor strength. If your baby isn't crawling between 12 and 14 months, flag it to their provider, says Dr. Fisher.
  • Your baby hasn't had enough opportunities to crawl. Babies need time and space to learn to crawl, Dr. Fisher points out. "If families and caregivers are constantly carrying babies around, they're not going to crawl on time," she says.
  • Your baby just isn't a crawler. While crawling is a common way for babies to get around, it's not for every baby. "Some babies never crawl, but go right to walking," Dr. Smith says.

How to Recognize Signs of Motor Issues in a Baby

Babies with motor issues will typically have trouble with the steps that come before crawling, Fisher says. "They may have difficulty rolling, sitting with assistance, and sitting on their own," she says. If your baby isn't rolling over by 6 months and isn't sitting by then, she recommends talking to your pediatrician. "Your baby may need a little encouragement or physical therapy," she says.

Fisher also stresses the importance of allowing your baby time to learn to crawl. "Give them lots of time on the floor," she says.

In general, Smith says that you should notice a progression of skills, including motor skills, over time with your baby. And, of course, if you have any concerns about your baby's motor skills, it's important to talk to your child's pediatrician. Some motor delays can be a sign of more a more serious condition, like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy as well as structural problems like a difference in limb length, according to NYU Langone.