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Ask Dr. Sears: A Hesitant Crawler

Q. My 10-month-old isn't crawling yet, but my friends' babies are. Is something wrong?

A.
I know how easy it is to make comparisons  -- as a parent I've done it myself -- but keep in mind that each child has a unique timetable when it comes to development. When a child does something -- whether it's crawling, walking, or talking -- isn't as important as how she progresses. In other words, each month she should be doing a little more than she did the one before. (And don't worry -- any theories you may have heard that link late crawling with learning disabilities or long-term motor-skill problems have been refuted.)

As long as most of your child's developmental milestones are on target -- she can hold a bottle, sit up without support, babble, and respond to whispers, for instance -- you can relax and simply celebrate her own individual development.

While most babies begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months, some like to take their time. And often it's a matter of personality -- high-energy babies tend to crawl early, while mellow ones prefer to sit back and observe their surroundings. Some infants, including my son Bob, bypass the crawling stage altogether. When he was your daughter's age, he preferred to scoot on his bottom.

If you'd like to encourage your child to get moving, you might place a favorite toy a few feet away from her as a lure. My wife, Martha, and I would also play a copycat game with our babies: We'd crawl toward them, then quickly scurry away so they'd try to follow us. The key is to have fun rather than worry about your child being late.

Once your baby starts to crawl, she may be on all fours or have her own style (such as dragging one leg). Until then, just sit back and enjoy this precious time; before you know it, you'll be chasing her throughout the house.

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