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Baby's Big Triumph: Crawling

There are certain moments of my first years as a mom that stand out with freeze-frame clarity. Like the time my then lumpish 2-month-old, Henry, rolled over from his tummy to his back  -- a feat I found so impressive I actually brought him into work the next day so my colleagues could watch. (So much for my carefully cultivated professional cool.) Or the summer day eight months later when Henry pointed a pudgy finger to the sky and said "Kite!" when he saw one flying in our backyard. I swear I can still hear this first squeaky word hanging in the air.

Your baby book's "Memorable Moments" page may start out blank, but those "firsts" rack up fast. Even when you know to expect them, milestones can surprise, thrill, or sometimes even unnerve you. Here, how your baby reaches this moment, and what you might experience when she does.

(6 to 9 months)
Tots almost always master sitting up before they put together the full-body dexterity needed to crawl. At first, some babies scoot backward or even sideways before they get forward momentum going. Pediatricians see crawling as one of the more time-flexible milestones. Some babies start at 6 months while others walk without ever crawling.

What you're feeling: I found this stage more alarming and stressful than any other. A baby who can motor away requires even more vigilance. If you haven't childproofed yet, get down on all fours yourself and see what's reachable and tempting. My daughter Margaret started crawling at 8 months, just in time to head over to the bright lights on the Christmas tree in our living room. Needless to say, that was the year all our photos show a lovely tree cordoned off by a make-do fence of furniture and baby gates.

Paula Spencer is a contributing editor at Parenting and a mom of four.