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Most babies learn to crawl shortly after they learn to sit up unassisted, usually between 7 and 11 months, but don't worry if your baby hasn't started. Crawling is one of those nonessential milestones -- some babies never crawl at all; they prefer to scoot along on their bottoms or squirm along on their stomachs (called creeping). Some may simply stand up and go straight to walking closer to their first birthdays.
When your baby does start to crawl, he'll probably go backward first. That's totally normal, because it's easier to move those heavy legs backward than drag them along forward. He'll get going in the right direction soon enough. Curiosity, as well as physical strength, will drive your baby to crawl. You can encourage this milestone by placing a few favorite toys just out of reach, so he's tempted to scoot forward to get them.
Remember, once your baby becomes mobile, his whole world (and yours) will change. And now that your baby can get to more of his surroundings, he'll be even keener to explore them. That means it's time to really babyproof your home from top to bottom, if you haven't already. --Cynthia Ramnarace
Originally published in the February 2008 issue of American Baby magazine. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.