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My 10-month-old scoots on his rear instead of crawling in the usual way; why?
Q: My 10-month-old scoots on his rear instead of the crawling the traditional way. I am worried about him falling backwards on our wood floors, but I know I need to let him move around. Could he get a serious injury if he does fall backwards?
A: Most babies begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months of age. Once they can sit up well and see the interesting things around them, they want to move across the floor to explore their environment. But crawling requires a complex combination of arm and leg strength and coordination. In fact, babies have many different styles of crawling including the standard crawl on hands and knees, the “army crawl” when they pull themselves forward on their tummy, crawling with one leg extended to the side, and seated scooting along on their bottom as your son does. Some babies even go from sitting up to walking without ever crawling.

It’s good that you want to encourage your son to develop his physical strength and coordination, and explore his environment safely. Here are some of the safety considerations for your scooter:
  • For most 10-month-olds, sitting on the floor is a fairly stable position since their bottom and legs provide a broad base and they’ve had months of practice. So your son is not likely to fall when scooting on his bottom.

  • If your son does fall, his body is naturally designed to cushion the fall. He could bump his body (which is well-padded with fat) or his head (which is protected by his hard skull bones). In fact, children’s bodies are designed to withstand falls from natural heights—crawling to walking heights—and, at 10 months of age, a fall from under 1-foot high may cause a bruise or a bump on the head but rarely causes a serious injury.

  • Although carpeted floors are softer, your wood floors are more resilient than stone, tile, or concrete floors.

  • The greatest danger is that your son is now mobile and can get into household hazards. And soon he’ll be walking…and then climbing…and able to get into even more. Be sure your house is child-proofed (including placing locks on kitchen cabinets; using safety covers on electrical outlets; keeping cleaning fluids, medicines, small objects, and knives out of reach; installing gates to block stairs; closing bathroom doors, and supervise your son at all times.