Our 9 month old is now a speed crawler and that, combined with the joys of introducing solid food, poses a few new challenges.
No longer a quiet newborn! So much personality! And having navigated this stage three times pretty recently,I feel like this is now at least familiar, if still somewhat exhausting territory.
So, what to teach your newly-crawling (Or nearly-crawling) baby?
I’m not talking lofty ambitions like reading or swimming – although I do have a copy of this on my shelves:
(As an aside, the major problem with the book above – How to Teach Your Baby to Read – for me, anyway, was that it required me to read a book first; something I haven’t achieved since having a baby.)
Also, I wasn’t sure I actually wanted my baby to read – wouldn’t that be a bit weird? – all that to say, my babies can neither read nor swim.
Instead, and in keeping with a large portion of my parenting philosophy, I scaled back my expectations. Way back.
My main goal for the newly crawling baby is somewhat more basic: avoid choking and/or injury.
My first recommendation: teach your baby to stick out their tongue when you do. My husband looks a little bemused watching me sat opposite our 9 month old saying ‘bleeeurgh’ with my tongue out and waiting for him to copy me, to be rewarded with some big laughter. But it really is a handy trick, especially when you see your 9month old interacting with your 3 year old, who happens to be clutching a handful of Lego.
Keep the Lego in a separate room? Check. And teach your baby to spit out something on demand? A solid back up.
How to get off a bed / sofa
I think it’s Dr Sears who suggests you either have a baby who is wary of edges – staircases, sofas, beds – or you don’t. And either all 4 of my babies have been very much in the ‘not wary’ camp, or this is wishful thinking, Dr S.
My babies, in any case, have had no qualms about beds and sofas and would happily dive off headfirst at any opportunity. But, as I learnt with our second baby, it is pretty easy to get them crawling off edges feet first – a big improvement over the head first option.
So from 6months, 8months, whenever your baby starts rolling around a bit more: whenever they are on a bed or sofa with you and you are getting off the bed or sofa, always turn them and dangle their feet over the edge so they can feel the sensation of climbing down feet first.
Our second baby got the hang of this very quickly and it really made her very safe as soon as she was mobile. Highly recommend.
Stop when you call stop. This is a skill that will last you in good stead from crawling all the way to the toddler-on-a-runaway-scooter stage.
Make a game out of this. Crawl with your baby and then call ‘stop!’. You can either very dramatically flop to the ground in demonstration, or pick your baby up for some big hilarious tickle. Either way, they will soon get the idea and when you call stop as they crawl towards your toddler’s prized duplo castle, they might pause for long enough that you can whisk them out of the way before the castle is a pile of bricks. This is one for the safety conscious and those of us attempting to avoid big sibling tantrums.
Safety covered, when I had one – or even two children – I didn’t give them much time to be alone and explore their environment without my interfering.
I had the best intentions, in being very involved first time around, but by the time I had 3 and then 4 children under 6, I didn’t have as much time to build endless towers of blocks for my crawling baby to knock down. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the outcome is pretty positive – they have learnt to play really independently. Our 2 year old will sit with toys and narrate stories endlessly without needing any input from me to her play – which makes her day far more fun than waiting for me to finish chores before I can join in. She’s already enjoying herself, even if I am still in the midst of some kind of mountain of laundry (always).
So there we go. No reading, no swimming, but slightly safer and a lot more independent. The ultimate result for your newly crawling baby. Good luck!