The Magic of Crawling

What If My Baby Doesn't Crawl?

Not all babies crawl before they learn to walk. In general, babies are achieving motor milestones at a later age than they did 15 or 20 years ago, in part because most of them are now put to sleep on their back. The Back to Sleep campaign has significantly reduced the risk of SIDS, but the unintended fallout is that babies spend less time on their stomach. Experts recommend giving baby tummy time during the day so he has a chance to build upper-body strength. Still, some babies won't tolerate being facedown, and others are just destined not to crawl. The good news is that there's no evidence that babies suffer motor-skill delays if they don't crawl. The important thing isn't so much the crawling but giving your baby lots of chances to build up his muscles and experience the world from different views.

In the Mouths of Babes

No matter how often you clean your floor, you'll still find yourself pulling small objects out of your baby's mouth. If there's a lost button on the floor, you can count on him to find it!

These explorations are a normal part of development. Babies begin to explore the world with their mouth even before birth; ultrasounds routinely show fetuses sucking their thumb as early as 16 weeks. At birth, sensations in and around the mouth are the most highly developed, so once babies can grasp things, they're eager to experience size, shape, and texture by putting every object to the taste test. Mouthing peaks between 7 and 9 months and then declines steadily as babies become more adept at using their hands. One study, by Jonathan Roberts and Martha Ann Bell at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, noted that 8-month-old boys spend more time mouthing toys than girls of the same age. They attribute this to "faster brain maturation of female infants, who spend more time examining toys with their eyes."

While baby's in this stage, keep potential choking hazards away, and let him enjoy his hold on the world's delights and learn as he goes ... or chews.

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