Did you read What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Or did you download a phone app that constantly notified you about milestones that your child should have already accomplished? Crawling would be one of those milestones. Child development varies dramatically from child to child. Skills are built upon each other, like stepping stones to the next stage of development. So what does it mean when a child does not master the ability to crawl or skips that milestone altogether? What happens if a child bum scoots instead of crawling? Crawling is more important than you may think.

Why is crawling so important?

Babies begin to sit up at around six-months of age. It takes some time and practice but, eventually, they can get themselves into a seated position and then back to the ground and so on. Once a baby masters sitting upright then the fun begins. From the sitting position babies learn to get up on their hands and knees and start to rock back and forth. These movements strengthen a baby’s muscles enabling her to move forward and crawl.

Crawling usually happens around eight-months of age. Crawling creates independent exploration. Babies feel the flooring and find toys and other objects around the house. Without even realizing it, your baby is using her fine motor skills by pinching and picking up items, crawling up and over simple obstacles, and interacting with a wide variety of sensory items. After your baby starts crawling, spatial exploration begins.

Crawling uses specific movements that strengthen your child’s muscles enabling her to pull herself up on furniture. It is not until your child can pull themselves up, move around and gain confidence that walking happens.

What is bum scooting or shuffling?

With some babies, once they can sit up unassisted, they bum scoot by rocking their pelvis back and forth to gain momentum or they use their feet to pull them forward and move around. Some babies who bum scoot can move around quickly and skip crawling altogether.

Bum scooting and delayed walking

Children who “bum scoot” tend to have a very strong core (abdominal muscles) and sometimes tight hip flexors from being in a seated position, which can make walking difficult. When crawling, babies gain strength through using their hands and arms. This does not happen at the same rate when moving around on their bums. Many babies do not walk until they are 12 months of age, but for bum scooters walking might not happen until they are 18-24 months old. 

What should I do if my child skips crawling?

Don’t panic. The most important part is that your healthcare practitioner has ruled out any reasons for not crawling such as hip dysplasia, tight or loose hip flexors or other movement difficulties. If your little one just prefers to bum scoot, don’t fret. There are a lot of activities that your child will naturally use crawling movements for and can naturally learn the skill later.

Researchers have stated that crawling is the first step in independent movement. When a child crawls and interacts with the environment, all senses are firing and the child is rapidly learning. Crawling is a cross lateral movement which strengthens both sides of the brain. When we increase communication from the two sides there is an enhanced learning.

Occupational therapists recommend that if your baby skipped crawling to go back and teach them to learn to crawl. There are simple activities to do with your toddler like, tunnel play, pretending to be an animal and move around the house, crawl racing, playing at the park on the jungle gym and even riding a bike. For older kids the same activities apply and more. You can put your child in a class that focuses on all four limbs moving in sequence, like swimming.


How do we know if it is more than just a delay?

Taking your child to their wellness checkups will help spot any delays and allow you and your healthcare provider to discuss any concerns. Also, trust your instincts. A mother’s intuition is normally bang on! Some red flags might include delayed head control or weak stability. Minor red flags combined with gross motor delays could be part of a larger problem that your healthcare provider should investigate.

Not ready for crawling?

Are you the parent of a new baby? Maybe your child has just mastered rolling over or almost sitting unassisted. There are many fun activities for you to do with your little one to encourage crawling so that your child has the skills when they are strong enough to go it alone.

Top four activities to do with your baby to encourage crawling:

  1. Encourage tummy time (even if they just hate it!) It is a first step in bearing weight and becoming more stable. If your baby just hates it, try rolling up a receiving blanket and place under their armpits/chest. Try placing your baby on your chest while you are lying on the floor. Get down on the floor with them during tummy time and play. Place a mirror in front of them to keep their attention.
  2. Make their play space safe but not void of fun! Encourage your child to move around and help them move up and over your legs or pillows on the floor to get their favourite toy.
  3. Help your child to kneel. This can be as simple as placing a toy on the couch cushions or your lap and have your child sit on their knees and you can hold their hips and help them to put weight on their knees.
  4. Get on the floor and play! The easiest way to encourage crawling and independent movement is to take time to get down on the floor and play. Explore the space with your child and have fun.

Enjoy the stage you are in

Milestones are not there to make you feel bad when your child has not yet reached the next mark; they are there as a guide of stages. These stages all work together in your child’s development. You know your child best so trust your instincts and ask questions when you have any concerns. Above all, no matter what stage your child is at, enjoy the moment.