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When Your Baby Doesn't Crawl

Photograph by Twenty20

“He still can’t crawl?”

I cringed when I heard those words. No, he can’t crawl. At 10 months. Which is PERFECTLY NORMAL.

It followed me everywhere. Moms at play group, on the internet, even at church. People always gave well-intentioned smiles and nods of encouragement, joking about how “once they crawl, it’s all over!” But I couldn’t stop feeling like the fact that my son couldn’t crawl yet was an issue.

I asked his pediatrician about it at his nine-month appointment, and she waved her hand.

“Babies do things when they’re ready,” she assured me. “He’s doing great.”

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At 10 months, my son is in the measly 10th percentile for weight. He’s been small his entire short life, despite a love of food, and it bumps the average first-time mom worries up a notch. I was constantly Googling typical milestones, like “How old are babies when they can wave?” and “How old are babies when they pull up?” My son always hit his physical milestones at the later end of the average bell curve, but it didn’t stop me from turning into a paranoid mama.

So there I was, with a 10-month-old who slept through the night and loved solids, but wouldn't crawl. In fact, he won't even think about it, preferring to just point at what he wants and cry until his sucker of a mom gets it for him.

No matter how many other milestones your baby hits early, there will always be that one that they aren’t quite at, and it can drive you nuts overthinking it.

“My daughter never crawled,” a mom at story time mentioned to me casually after I made some self-conscious jokes while some six-month-olds crawled laps around my son.

“What?” I said.

“She just never crawled. Went straight to walking at a year old. He’ll figure out how to move around. Don’t worry,” she told me confidently. “He won’t go to college not knowing how to move.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the milestones. It’s like a constant mind game of trying to keep up in some rat race I never wanted to join. No matter how many other milestones your baby hits early, there will always be that one that they aren’t quite at, and it can drive you nuts overthinking it. I did every trick I could find online, like lining up Puffs and placing him on his hands and knees. But he would always just roll over. He’s always hated tummy time, and flash me a smile. Nice try, Mom.

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But we forget that these milestones are just guides. Far from hard-and-fast rules, they’re simply averages. Some babies are rock star sleepers, or eaters, or stroller-riders, but some just take a little longer to get the hang of it. Your baby won’t go to college not knowing how to move, or sleep, or use the bathroom by themselves. They'll figure it out eventually.

The words from that mom gave me immense comfort. These can be tough and trying seasons, and although my son still doesn’t crawl, he does do an interesting army-scooch towards his toy of choice. At the end of the day, it’s good enough for me.

I look back at the obsessive Googler and half of me wants to laugh in her face, but the other half wants to give her a hug. I’ve learned to stop geeking out about milestone averages, take a deep breath, and remember that he’ll figure it all out at his own pace. I hope.

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