When I think back to my girls and their crawling days, it seems so long ago. I can’t remember if they did the baby crawl on the stomach or anything unusual. I just remember them each crawling, and then suddenly, they were walking.
Perhaps that’s not helpful, but not to worry. Army crawl is baby development at its finest. I’ve been getting loads of questions about the baby belly crawl, so I thought I’d better whip up a post about crawling, the baby army crawl age, and what to do when baby is army crawling but not sitting.
If you’re lost, let’s start here by defining what army crawling means in reference to babies!
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What is army crawling for babies?
Since crawling is a pretty big milestone in that first year of a baby’s life, it’s something you’re no doubt excited to see. But not all babies crawl in the same way, and you’ll soon see there are many nicknames for these types of crawls.
And then there’s creeping, which gets confusing, but not to worry, as I’ll explain that shortly.
So, the army crawl, also called the commando baby crawl, among other things, is when your baby moves forward just using her elbows. The rest of her body is dragged across the floor from this motion. It’s just adorable when you see it, but technically, it’s not crawling.
Yup, it’s considered creeping.
Well, what the heck, Leslie?!?
If we MUST get technical (and if you have been reading my posts for any time, you know that’s just what I love to do), crawling is when babies use their hands and feet to get around with tummies on the ground. Meanwhile, creeping is what happens when they finally get those tummies off the floor.
I know, I know, I KNOW. How do I know? Because for ages, as a new mama back in the day, I thought it was the same thing. I had no idea there was a difference.
But now you do!
Anyway, this army crawl thing is good because they’re getting ready to make the next move in development, and we want that! This is the natural progression of things which means your child has become more mobile, so you’ve got to watch out. I’ve got tips on that further below, too, so keep reading.
A baby army crawl can also happen with a baby army crawling with one arm. But if the baby is dragging leg when commando crawling, that’s technically scooting. Scooting is another early form of crawling. Catch it while you can because most babies tend to move through it quickly. If yours doesn’t, though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your baby, so don’t panic!
Basically, what you need to know is that there are several different ways to crawl. And these crawling attempts are just the way for the baby to go from sitting upright to learning how to walk. Just know that how your baby crawls makes no difference to their walking one day. And some babies will never crawl…they will go right to walking! That happened to my friend Daniella who was so stunned; she thought she accidentally ate one of her uncle’s edibles by mistake.
Somewhere in all of this, your baby will begin creeping, which I mentioned when they move forward on their hands and knees with their tummies off the ground. This is great for coordination as well as muscle development throughout the body. Creeping is likely what you have been calling. As I said, I know that because I did the very same thing!
Kids will move in their own ways, and it’s all really normal. You may see them swinging a leg as they use the other to move forward or scoot on their butt across the floor. Rocking back and forth is another developmental sign. If you’re ever worried, just ask your pediatrician. If all the other milestones are in check, there’s nothing to worry about.
When do babies start army crawl?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and a study it did, crawling on the hands and knees can start as early on as 5 months and as late as 14 months. The majority hit this milestone by 8 months.
While most children will hit this around 7 to 10 months of age, the types of crawling are varied. To get your baby to crawl (army crawl or otherwise), they need to be comfortable lying on their tummies. That’s why tummy time is such an important slice of your day with the baby. It helps them build up the muscle strength it takes to move their bodies.
I did tummy time with my girls 3 times a day when they were babies. I’d keep it short and sweet, watching to see if they became tired of the activity. It wasn’t long before they started rocking back and forth on their hands and knees. Your baby will likely do the same and may even move backward. That’s perfectly normal too!
Want to see progress? Get down there with your baby and show her! I have other tips too below. But you’re probably wondering…
Is it normal for babies to army crawl?
Yes! It totally is! All the ways a baby moves themselves independently are normal. But if you ever have any concerns about it, you can ask your pediatrician. In our digital age, it really helps to make a video of the things that worry you. Unless your doctor expresses concern, you do not need to worry about the army crawl.
Is army crawling considered crawling?
Well, technically, it is a form of creeping, but we can drop the technical stuff here. It’s basically a form of progression your baby uses to move forward (or backward). Not familiar with all the crawls? Let’s go over some of them really quick…
When the tummy is on the floor in some way. The arms and legs are engaged for movement.
Some call this the commando crawl. But this is a creeping move. Belly creepers begin crawling earlier because they don’t push up on their hands and knees, needing more strength and balance. Some babies will use this belly crawl move as their only method of movement until they start walking. But your baby may use the army crawl to shift to a classic crawl style.
Mama bear, get ready to swoon over your cub! The bear crawl is when your baby walks on all fours with arms and legs unbent.
This crawling style is when your baby uses the arms and legs to make a bridge and then moves forward.
Consider this one the learning curve. Your baby is doing the crab crawl when she pushes with her arms rather than pulls herself. She’ll likely cry because it propels her backward. This is a great time to get down on all 4’s with her and show her how to do it.
Other babies will simply roll, and this will be what moves them.
For all of these ways of crawling or creeping, it’s very normal stuff. Again, if you think something your baby is doing is not normal, record it and show your pediatrician. It will put your mind at ease to get a medical professional telling you nothing to worry about.
How to help baby transition from army crawling
Babies need that tummy time to progress with these types of milestones. If you haven’t been making a habit of tummy time, now is the time to start!
As I said, it only takes a few intervals a day for a few minutes a day. Stay there with the baby and get toys that help encourage her to lift her head. A mat like this is really cool and helpful.
When my eldest was a baby, someone gave us a crawling mirror similar to this one. The look on your baby’s face when they see themselves is just precious!
We also had an activity gym that was similar to this one. I definitely recommend it!
What else can you do?
- Prop up her arms
When your baby is army crawling, you can prop up her arms, so she stretches her back and puts her head up more. In time, she’ll begin to put her hands down and move her upper body.
- Try a tunnel
Pop-up tunnels like this one or something shorter can be a great tool. You should never leave it up unsupervised around your child, though. My friend Sara and her husband used the one they had for their toddler to get their youngest crawling. They’d roll a ball into the tunnel and have one of them on each side encouraging their baby to come to them.
Nervous about using a tunnel for a baby?
You can also build a makeshift tunnel from your couch cushions. Again, this will work best with 2 grownups working together.
- The old pusheroo
Another way that requires no added equipment is simply setting up your tummy time mat next to a wall. Get baby on all fours and encourage her to push off the wall with her feet to get something you’re holding like a favorite toy. Using the tummy time mat will help so that if she falls on her face, she is completely cushioned and safe from harm.
- Play peek-a-boo
This is my favorite. I remember doing this with my eldest. I’d get down on her level and poke my head out from around the corner and make a funny face and noises too. She’d squeal and laugh, and I’d tuck back in again. Then I’d pop out once more and repeat. She’d come to find me!
Even if your baby does this with the army crawl, that’s OK! She is building her strength in her arms and will hopefully change to the traditional crawling style soon.
Helpful Hints for Mamas When Baby Starts Crawling
When your baby starts crawling, no matter how she is crawling, it means she is more mobile. And even if all you see her do is move at a snail’s pace, get ready. She will soon propel herself across the floor faster than you can sprint.
That means you should have everything in place for babyproofing. Cover the outlets with protectors. Make sure furniture is bracketed to the wall to prevent tipping. Keep cords and curtains out of grasp. You’re going to be super busy, Mama!
Relevant: Read the early baby crawling stages!
I’d also like you to consider a baby activity center for your sanity. When a baby starts crawling and creeping, you will have to be on constant alert. And you won’t be able to get anything done if your baby is getting herself around. Even with baby proofing, you may find your baby in rooms you don’t want her in or in places you didn’t think of (like the kitchen!).
We all have chores and stuff that needs to get done, so take a look at my article about these baby activity centers to help you find one that will safely contain and entertain your child. It helps get those few minutes to shower or start dinner without worrying about the baby getting hurt.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.