Baby Physical Growth: Delayed Crawling

Readiness to Crawl

Sometime between 7 and 10 months babies get up on their hands and knees and begin to rock back and forth. This signals their readiness to start crawling. Of course, some kids find other ways to get around, such as scooting on their bottom.

Whether babies crawl or not may be simply a matter of temperament. "Some babies are more driven; other babies are more laid-back, happy to play with what's within their reach," says Dr. Hannibal. Indeed, some kids never crawl. It's usually nothing to stress over as long as they're meeting their other developmental milestones, such as pulling to stand, cruising on furniture, and using their hands properly, explains Dr. Hannibal.

What to Watch For: If your child can't support his body weight or doesn't have energy to move around, tell your pediatrician. Your baby may have low muscle tone (when the brain doesn't send nerve impulses to the muscles or the muscles don't receive them, which can lead to muscle weakness) or maybe he's not spending enough time on his tummy, says pediatric physical therapist Gay Girolami, executive director of the Pathways Center, in Glenview, Illinois.

Another potential red flag: Tell the pediatrician if your baby isn't scooting, rolling, or crawling at all by 1 year, or seems to favor one side, particularly if she's not meeting other developmental milestones, says Dr. Hannibal. This could be harmless, or it may indicate a neurological problem, such as cerebral palsy, which is diagnosed in about 8,000 babies annually.

Cruise Control

Around 9 or 10 months, kids' curiosity motivates them to pull themselves up for a better view of the world. And by 11 to 12 months, they're generally taking their first steps while holding on to the furniture -- known as cruising -- or your hands. During this period, you might also notice that her feet appear flat. That's partly because the arch hasn't entirely formed yet and because it's somewhat hidden by a fat pad, which disappears around age 2 or 3.

While low arches in young kids are normal, feet that remain flat may need shoes with arch supports to encourage the arch to take shape, says podiatrist Alan Woodle, DPM, of the Greenwood Foot and Ankle Center, in Seattle. Otherwise, baby shoes shouldn't have any support.

Your baby's feet may also turn in. Again, this is usually nothing to worry about and is likely the result of baby's position in the womb. Generally, both feet and legs straighten out by 18 months, and unless the in-toeing is totally rigid (which would require a visit to an orthopedist), causing pain or interfering with your child's ability to walk, most pediatricians allow children to outgrow it.

What to Watch For: Does your child only use her arms to pull to stand, seem to have difficulty getting up because her legs are stiff, fall more than would be expected, or frequently fall to one side? These are red flags that could signal a range of problems, including joint disorders, spinal cord abnormalities, and cerebral palsy. Discuss the signs with your pediatrician.

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