Growth & Development Milestones
Why doesn’t my 7-month-old crawl?
Q: Kyle, my 7½-month-old son, uses his elbows and knees to move, keeping his tummy on the floor. He will get in the crawl position then fall to his belly. He will sit only if I put him in that position. When he reaches for something he falls over. When I sign and play with him he smiles and always laughs back but doesn’t copy any of the things I show him. Should I be worried?
Submitted by Kristen in Elyria
A:Bettye M. Caldwell, Ph.D.
It doesn’t sound as though you have anything to worry about, Kristen—certainly not on the basis of what you mention in your question. In fact, it sounds as though you are descoting my son at that age. He couldn’t get into a sitting position by himself but loved to have me put him down on the floor sitting up so he could have both hands free to play with his toys and not have to use his elbows for support as would have been necessary if he had been on his tummy. If he leaned too far forward and fell, he would howl until I set him back up. And he crawled with his belly scraping the floor until he was about 10 months old.
An interesting finding is that not as many children seem to crawl today as used to be the case. Many people feel that concern for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which led to the universal recommendation to have children sleep on their backs, may be responsible for this decline. Some children who don’t crawl scoot along on their buttocks, often managing to cover considerable distances with this seemingly awkward movement pattern. But it sounds as though Kyle is making good progress in ordinary crawling. In a month or so he will use mainly his hands and knees and completely lift his tummy off the floor.
With respect to the signing and game playing, maybe the ones you are using are too difficult. At his age it is hard to beat “peek-a-boo.” Hide his face with a napkin and say, “Where’s Kyle?” When you remove the napkin, say happily, “There’s Kyle. Peek-a-boo.” Note whether he smiles or looks excited. Then hide your face the same way and ask, “Where’s mummy?” After you remove the napkin, say “Here’s mummy. Peek-a-boo.” A little later, before starting the game, ask him, “Do you want to play ‘peek-a-boo?’” Chances are he will give some indication that he does.
My other favourite game for children Kyle’s age is “So big.” Ask, “How big is Kyle?” Then take his arms in your hands and raise his arms above his head, saying as you do so “Kyle is soooo big.” Soon, when you ask the question, he will raise his hands without your help.
And have fun. The last few months of the first year of a child’s life are glorious. Don’t miss the joy by letting worry take over.