The First Step to Learning to Crawl

By giving your baby the opportunity to learn the skills needed for crawling, they’ll soon be up and moving! Here’s how you can help your baby become mobile.

Before your baby can walk

Even small babies like to stretch out and play – lying them on a blanket on the floor (or outside on the grass in warm weather), can help nurture vital skills needed for crawling, by strengthening head and neck muscles through ‘tummy time’. You can start tummy time from birth, by lying your baby on your chest for a minute or two. As the weeks go by, build up the amount of tummy time your baby gets (always ensuring they are comfortable). When indoors, a firm flat surface, such as a rug on the floor, works best, rather than an overly soft surface.

Why tummy time?

  • Tummy time has been found to strengthen your baby’s head and neck muscles. Shoulder, arm and torso muscles are next to strengthen before, ultimately, their feet, in preparation for crawling.
  • The development of your baby’s spine begins as they learn to raise their head while lying on their stomach. It’s the beginning of development of the normal curve in your child’s neck.
  • Constantly lying on their back can flatten a baby’s skull – tummy time helps prevent a mis-shapen head.

Keep your baby safe! Important tummy time rules

  • Before putting your baby on the floor, look out for potential hazards at baby level.
  • A soft or padded surface may make tummy time more difficult for your baby.
  • Make sure bub is calm, and isn’t tired or hungry, at tummy time – a tummy full of milk isn’t a good idea, either.
  • Stay with your baby at all times.

My baby hates tummy time!

  • Make tummy time fun for your baby by lying them on a play blanket with squares or flaps made from textured materials, such as corduroy, satin or wool, colourful shapes, with rattles and soft squeaky toys attached.
  • Lie your baby on your tummy to encourage head lifting – what better view than mum’s face!
  • Put a favourite toy just out of reach – it’ll encourage your baby to lift their head in interest and build their confidence when they grab it.
  • Try holding a mirror in front of your baby’s face during tummy time – it will astound and delight, and then they’ll start to recognise their own reflection.


Always follow your baby’s lead. When playing with your baby, remember to follow your baby’s attention and interests.

This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best resource for pregnancy and parenting. Sources include South Australian Government’s Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service, Raising Children Network and Parenting By Heart by Pinky McKay (Penguin).

Read more on Kidspot

Leave A Comment