This simple guide to learning to crawl has lots of tips to encourage a reluctant reflux baby. It explains the stages of learning to crawl and the different types of crawling your baby may try. It also has reminders on how to child-proof your house ready for a crawling baby.
At 10 months old, my daughter still suffers from reflux, although it has become less severe in the last couple of months. Having reflux made my daughter reluctant to do tummy time and to start to crawl because it would make her symptoms worse. This guide has tips on how I found ways to encourage a reflux baby to spend time on her tummy and to learn to crawl.
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When should my baby learn to crawl?
Most babies start to try to crawl between 6 and 10 months. Some babies will not start to crawl until after 10 months and some will skip crawling altogether. Some babies with reflux will not crawl until later because it can be uncomfortable for them, others will not have a problem. My daughter first started to show an interest in crawling at 9 months, this was when her reflux started to show signs of being under control.
The most important thing is that your baby shows an interest in moving around and finds a way to do it. If you are worried then ask your GP or health visitor for advice.
How will my baby learn to crawl?
There are several main stages of learning how to crawl:
- Tummy time: Baby will start to spend time on their tummy to develop the strength in their arms, legs, back and body. Tummy time can start from when they are born.
- Getting up on all fours: Baby will start to push up on their hands and pull their knees up into a crawling position.
- Rock backward and forwards: Baby will get into a crawling position and then rock their body as if they are getting ready to set off.
- Scoot backward: baby will probably scoot backward before learning how to crawl forwards. This can be really frustrating for them as they can see where they want to go but just can’t get there.
- Move forwards: Baby will learn how to scoot themselves forwards.
These are the basic steps of learning to crawl, but every baby does things their own way. Some different ways babies might get round are commando crawling (on their tummy), rolling, bottom shuffling (sitting up and moving along on their bottom), scooting along the furniture or go straight to walking. Moving around in any way is what is important.
How do I encourage my baby to start to crawl?
These are some of the items I have used to encourage my daughter to start to crawl:
- Tummy time pillow or a breastfeeding pillow props the baby up so they aren’t lying completely flat. This develops the strength in their neck, shoulder and chest muscles which will help them to crawl later on.
2. Tummy Time toys – these will keep them entertained and encourage them to spend longer on tummy time.
2. Play gym to give them toys to reach for and encourage rolling. You can also prop up one end of the mat so they are on an incline or place them on a tummy time roller. My children used the Fisher Price rainforest play gym and they both loved it – it was colourful, interactive and it washed well.
3. A variety of balls to reach for and encourage them to move. The Bright Start shake and spin activity balls are great for some sensory time.
4. Toys that encourage them to move around. We have loved the Vtech crawl and learn lights ball, it plays sounds and lights up to attract their attention.
5. As they start to crawl a pop up tunnel and tent really encourages them to move. Older children love this too so they can join in and encourage them to move
Check out this practical guide for dealing with sleep, weaning, leaving the house and helping your baby to improve their symptoms.
How do I cope with a crawling baby and reflux?
It is hard work dealing with a moving baby who can vomit without warning. Throw in weaning at the same time and you can end up with orange vomit everywhere (my daughter loves sweet potato and carrots!). these are some of the things I have used to reduce the mess in my house:
Make yourself a portable clean up kit
You don’t need to buy anything special, find a plastic box, basket or a caddy with a handle works well. Put in a couple of muslins, a packet of wipes, spare bib and vest, a cloth and a small toy to use as a distraction while you’re clearing up the mess.
Invest in a large mat
Put this down when the baby is on the floor to protect your carpet from becoming stained. I like the foam interlocking tiles as you can choose the right size to fit your room. You can get really colourful foam tiles or a neutral design like the Skip Hop tiles.
Take a portable mat with you
I found it really useful to have a washable playmat that I could use at home and take when we went to play at anyone else’s house. This meant I didn’t have to be on constant alert and I could just let her play normally without ruining anyone’s floor.
Dress baby in simple clothes
There are so many lovely outfits I would have loved to dress my daughter in, but she would only have it on 5 minutes before vomiting on it. I found it was so much easier to keep her in a vest and leggings at home, so I could keep quickly changing her.
Have a stockpile of bibs
Always wear a good bib. We like to use the Funky Giraffe bibs, I love them and I have tested a lot of bibs! I think they wash well, stop the clothes getting wet and protect her neck from getting sore. I keep a stock in so I can change them when they get too wet or dirty.
How do I Childproof my House?
As soon as your baby starts to show signs of crawling you will need to childproof your house. The best way to do this is to get down on your hands and knees and look at what they will be able to see and reach. Even after you have done this there will be things that a baby can find that you never even noticed!
Some of the things I have needed to baby-proof:
- Put in socket covers
- Hide any electrical cords
- Stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs
- Door stops to stop her trapping her fingers
- Be aware of baby being too near hot radiators
- Remove tablecloth to stop baby pulling it off
- Remove bathroom objects baby can reach and keep shower door closed
- Keep house plants out of reach
- Lock kitchen cupboards and leave one open with baby-safe items in (this is a great distraction for them)
- Cover sharp corners on furniture
- Move breakable objects to a high shelf
- Move pet items out of reach e.g. water bowl, toys, pet food
Crawling is a skill that your baby will develop in their own time. Encourage them and give them opportunities to practice this new skill, but don’t worry if they are not ready for it yet. The reflux will improve. There will be days when you realise the baby hasn’t vomited on anything and you have both managed to wear the same outfit all day. When the reflux improves your baby will be happier to do tummy time, rolling and crawling because it will be more comfortable for them.