Not all babies crawl, but for the babies who do, it’s a double dose of exploration, both as the first way your baby gets the chance to explore the world around her under her own power and at her own pace, but also as a time when she is figuring out brand new ways to use her body and muscles. There are several stages of pre-crawling that many babies move through, but not every baby even progresses through each stage, with many skipping some completely. It's also important to remember that every baby progresses at her own pace, especially when it comes to big milestones like crawling. As your baby makes these dramatic physical advances, it can also have an impact on her sleep - many parents notice that, before reaching a big physical or developmental milestone, their babies go through periods of needing a little (or even a lot of) extra sleep.
You’ll know your baby is moving in the direction of crawling when she starts sitting up on her own. Often, babies learn to crawl right from this sitting position, as they go from sitting and balancing with their hands on the floor in front of them to pushing themselves up on all fours, and then figuring out how to move themselves forward from there.
Once your baby ends up in the crawling position - pushing herself up on her hands and knees - she may stall out a bit, and stay in one place on her hands and knees or feet, swaying or wriggling back and forth as she starts to work out the mechanics of propelling herself forward. On the other hand, she might start moving herself across the floor in a sort of wriggling creep before she ever gets to that semi-upright position.
It's important to note that not all babies crawl the same way. Crawling isn’t an unavoidable step on the road to walking, and your baby could end up cruising around in a funny looking pseudo-crawl just as easily as she could skip that step entirely and vault straight into walking. If the way your baby is moving doesn’t match up with a textbook baby-crawl, don’t worry, it’s probably a perfectly normal variation. However, it's a good idea to contact the doctor if your baby is only using one half of her body to crawl, or has not started moving around in any of these ways by 12 months.
Crawling, just the way you picture it when you picture babies moving around. your baby may even end up moving faster than you’re ready for, because once she figures out the mechanics of crawling, she could easily get very good very fast.
On the other hand, it may take her a little while to really get the hang of things. In fact, a lot of babies figure out how to crawl backwards before they manage to start moving forward!
It's perfectly okay for a child to regress for a bit when it comes to crawling - she is probably just temporarily using her time and attention to focus on a different skill - but if you're concerned, don't hesitate to check in with your pediatrician to make sure everything is on-track.
When your baby starts pulling herself upright by holding onto things and then pulling herself along from there, she is moving out of the crawling phase, and is very close to walking.