Crawling is one of the most anticipated milestones of baby's first year. It's exhilarating to watch your child go from stationary to mobile. Of course, once your baby can get himself from Point A to Point B, you've got a bit more work cut out for you: you've got to make sure your childproofing is complete, and even when it is, you must monitor your baby very, very carefully. But the fun of seeing your baby scoot from one place to another, and knowing that this mobility is an important step toward walking makes the extra vigilance worth it.
I encouraged my baby's crawling just by sitting a few feet away from him on the floor and enticing him with smiles, encouragement, a favorite toy, or even a snack. But there are also lots of great toys that can do some of the encouraging for you. Deborah Weber, Ph.D., Senior Manager of Child Research at Fisher-Price, recommends the kinds of toys that can help motivate babies to crawl:
Large, soft discovery mats. "These mats have various activities -- like a mirror, a toy that makes a sound, etc. -- attached to them. Place baby at one end of the mat and encourage her to move."
Wedge mirrors. "These are great because they're positioned at an angle so babies can see themselves. Some mirrors come with music and lights, and some are just basic mirrors. Either is fine; the important thing is that the wedge angle lets babies see themselves better. Place baby in front of the mirror. They like to scoot forward to see themselves."
Rolling toys with lights and sound. "These are usually cylinder-shaped. Put the toy in front of your baby when he's on his tummy. As the toy rolls forward it encourages your baby to crawl after it."
Inflatable rollers. "These rollers are slightly different than other rolling toys. They're fun because they're often clear, so you can see inside, where there are sometimes balls with rattle sounds that roll around."
Soft pop-up tunnels. "Place a toy at one end. Babies love to crawl through these to get to the end and find their toy."
Motorized plush toys. "These crawl a short distance after your baby has pressed a button to get them in motion, and baby can crawl or scoot two or three feet to follow."
No matter which of these toys you choose, advises Dr. Weber, you should get right down on the floor with your baby and offer her lots of encouragement. Crawling generally starts between 7 and 10 months. "There are lots of different toys for babies to crawl after. Any of these toys will encourage babies to move, and that's what's important."
Beth Weinhouse is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about parenting issues and women's health. She's been an editor at Ladies' Home Journal and Parenting magazines, and her work has appeared in dozens of consumer magazines and websites.
Parenting advice is given as a suggestion only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider.