My 9 month old is not crawling at all. Mostly he is on his back all day. He does get a bit of tummy time, but gets tired of that. He has figured out a weird way of moving around on his back in order to reach things. He can roll from tummy to back and back to tummy.

How can I get him to crawl?

I try putting him on his tummy and putting toys just out of reach, and bending his legs so that he will push back on me.

Our older child never crawled at all, and crawling is important for development so we need to figure out how to teach him!

  • 2
    While crawling is important to development, it is also not the end of the world if your child refuses. Thousands of kids never crawl. I'll go do some research for you and I'll tell you what I did in class to encourage crawling for kids with special needs. (I am not saying your child has a problem at all -- but the 'help' would be the same.)
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 16:39
  • 1
    What were the negative effects of your older child not learning to crawl?
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:02
  • @WarrenDew I added to my answer to to address that. It is a good question in its own right.
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:20
  • 3
    @Willow I wasn't asking about the general case, though; I was asking about this specific older child, to get clarity on this asker's situation. If the older child is still wiggling on his back at age 14, that suggests that in this family, it could be a bigger problem than if the older child learned to walk just fine and is now a star athlete at 7.
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:26
  • Its hard to be sure about exactly what our eldest is lacking due to having skipped that phase, but it is obvious that it is not ideal to skip phases. There is obviously a lot of development that the crawling activity brings . There are a number of things with our eldest that could be at leasy partly due to him having skipped that stage
    – Randor
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


Babies don't particularly care about timelines, stages or what they're suspose to do. My daughter never wanted to crawl, she'd roll, wiggle, and all sorts of weird movements. Her favorite was pushing herself backwards. Then one day she stood up and want to walk. Crawling, never. It took her a while too.

My son skipped a few of the "stages" as well, he never wanted tummy play, nor really to sit, preferring to wiggle on his back. He crawled for a week or two then was running by his first birthday.

The point isn't that they're meeting stages, but that there is some kind of progression. Just make sure they are moving, fairly happy and seem to thrive. Parent's seem to have this competition with making sure their kids are perfect. Take a step back and enjoy them and let them do their thing.

  • 2
    I will comment that if your baby is trying but can't do something, it might be a good time for a physical exam and a chat with a pediatrician. Even if you get a stop worrying, they see more babies then you will so they have a better view of "normal" then the internet.
    – Omagasohe
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 1:14
  • FYI -- you can always edit your own answer, and I think your comment is worthy of being added. Just copy and paste the comment (under your answer, select the edit button and paste your comment in). You can edit more, if you like. Then you can delete the comment. This site does take some getting used to.
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 13:30


"Before crawling, a baby must first lose his infant reflexes -- such as flailing his limbs when he's startled -- and learn how to coordinate his arms and legs, which is no small feat," says Parents adviser Steven Shelov, M.D., chairman and vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children's Hospital of Brooklyn.

In addition, your little one can't bust a move until he wins an important battle with gravity. "You've got to remember that when a baby is born, he suddenly experiences a pull of gravity ten times stronger than that in the womb," explains Jody Jensen, Ph.D., associate professor in kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin. "Being able to crawl means your child has learned to resist this pull of gravity while developing the strength to lift up from the ground."

Lending a Helping Hand

The most important is to schedule plenty of supervised tummy time every day starting at 3 months. Researchers have found that the Back to Sleep Campaign -- which encourages parents to put their infants to sleep on their back to prevent SIDS -- may be causing delays in crawling. Without some time spent on her stomach, your baby is less likely to experiment with pushing off the ground. Put her on the floor for several five- to ten-minute sessions while you watch. (Tucking a small, rolled blanket under her chest may make her more comfortable.) Or try placing her prone on your chest while you lie on the floor.

Another way to help her start moving is to get down on the floor with her regularly and put toys just out of her reach. After all, if everything she wants is always easily accessible, she won't have an incentive to try to push, pull, or drag herself forward.

In our classroom, we encouraged crawling by

  • putting a wanted item out of reach
  • putting the child on his/her tummy to start
  • be encouraging -- any attempt gets praise and smiles
  • we also rested children over a bolster to help them get used to the crawl position. *

    *I did that in the early 90s. This may no longer be encouraged -- our physio suggested it, but time and info changes. I think we never did this for longer than 5 minutes at a time. Their idea (link/ C&P info) of the towel might be exactly the way to try this.

Warren Drew asked a question that warrants an answer: These are the best reasons why babies should learn to crawl.


"Crawling helps strengthen the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders because babies have to constantly activate them to support their body weight," says Felice Sklamberg, a pediatric occupational therapist at New York University's School of Medicine. "We're seeing that because non-crawlers aren't as strong, they have a harder time as older children pulling themselves out of a pool, climbing a jungle gym, or even picking themselves up from the floor."

Skipping this milestone can also affect a child's ability to hold silverware or a pencil down the road, since the weight-bearing experience of crawling helps develop arches and stretch out ligaments in the wrist and hand that are needed for fine motor skills. "During the crawling period, the large joint at the base of the thumb is expanded into its full range of motion, so noncrawlers may have messier handwriting, for example," explains Mary Benbow, an occupational therapist and a leading expert on pediatric hand development.

Crawling is a unique experience in other ways as well. "It's a real step up for coordination because it's the first opportunity to practice bilateral coordination -- using the arms and legs in reciprocal movements," says Jane Case-Smith, director of the division of occupational therapy at Ohio State University's School of Allied Medical Professions in Columbus and an early-intervention specialist. "This skill is used in activities like getting dressed, self-feeding, and sports. A child who sidesteps crawling may have more of a struggle catching up."

Babies who skip any kind of scooting or dragging miss out on the benefits of being on the floor as well. "Children learn through interaction with their hands. They don't get as much if they go straight to walking, because then they need to use their hands for balance," says Karen Hendricks-Muñoz, M.D., chief of neonatology and associate professor of pediatrics at New York University's School of Medicine. "Navigating on the ground also helps visual spatial skills and depth perception develop more quickly."

  • My daughter never crawled, she scooted. Healthy 7-yo now, doing just fine in PE. She had a medical condition we found out later, but she progressed to walking just a few months late.
    – Stu W
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 3:40
  • @StuW as I commented to the OP " While crawling is important to development, it is also not the end of the world if your child refuses. Thousands of kids never crawl." There is a correlation between back to sleep/SIDS-prevention and not crawling. That while it is preferable to crawl, this does not mean every or even most who don't, 'suffer'. I think that working on upper body strength and crossing the midline and encouraging alternating would help. I doubt that 'back to sleep' will change any time soon.
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 12:30

There is no need to worry. Yet.

Summary of the below quotes:

  • Not knowing how to crawl before 11 months old is no reason for concern.
  • Place her on her tummy often to build up muscles (but keep in mind SIDS warnings against letting her sleep on her belly before 5 months old).
  • Encourage her to move by placing some toys out of reach.


Most babies learn to crawl between the ages of 7 months and 10 months. Your baby may opt for another method of locomotion around this time, though [...]

How to help your baby crawl

Tummy time. From the start, long before your baby's ready to crawl, give him plenty of tummy time. Placing your baby on his tummy and playing with him for several minutes a few times a day while he's awake and alert will help to develop muscles that he needs to crawl. [...]

Incentives to move. The best way to encourage crawling – as with reaching and grabbing – is to place toys and other desirable objects (even yourself) just beyond your baby's reach. [...]



Babies typically begin to crawl between 6 and 10 months, although some may skip the crawling phase altogether and go straight to pulling up, cruising, and walking. Help your babe get ready for his crawling debut by giving him lots of supervised tummy time. Tummy time allows him to lift his head to look around, which helps build strength in the neck, shoulders, arms, and trunk. When he kicks his feet while on his tummy, it strengthens his hips and legs. Some babies don't like being on their tummy, so make it interesting. Place a favorite toy just out his grasp or lie down in front of him to engage his attention, or lie him tummy-side down on your chest and talk and play with him. [...]

[...] if your baby hasn't shown any progress in becoming mobile (whether it's bum scooting, rolling to her destination, or crawling) by 12 months [...] it's best to consult the pediatrician.



Most babies master crawling when they are aged between 7 and 10 months old. Some start earlier than that, and others start later. [...]

[...] Spending time on her tummy is important for helping your baby to develop the strength to move her body and hold herself up. If your baby cries when you place her on her tummy on the floor, try lying her on your tummy instead. [...]

[...] Being carried around may not sound like the most effective way of building muscle, but as babies shuffle to reposition themselves in wraps and slings, they are strengthening their muscles. [...]

[...] A couple of toys that move may help to encourage your baby to start crawling. Trains, cars and balls are all great toys that may travel out of baby's reach as she plays with them. [...]



Your baby may start learning to crawl when she's between six months and nine months old. By the time she's a year old, she's likely to be crawling well and exploring her surroundings. [...]

[...] You can help your baby to crawl by encouraging her to spend time on her tummy. There's some evidence that babies who spend plenty of time playing on their tummies are likely to crawl earlier. [...]


I try putting him on his tummy and putting toys just out of reach

He may not have enough interest in the toys for them to be much motivation. This is an anecdotal answer, but here goes:

One small trick that helped my son crawl was putting Cheerios/Goldfish/food on the ground for him to crawl to. We started out small (just a few inches) and worked our way up (to several feet away with trails of snacks going from room to room). Toys never worked with him; he just wasn't interested in them. But he knew what food was and it was an effective motivator for crawling.

In short: you may have to try different types of bribery. Be patient, and let him take his time in learning how to do it. It's usually not a big deal if a child takes a little longer to learn how to do something, or learns things in an unexpected order (e.g. walking, then crawling). If you have concerns, consult your son's pediatrician.

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