It doesn’t matter if it’s your first child or the fourth, those first steps are nothing short of pure joy. Babies walking for the first time is often an unforgettable moment for parents.
But what if you saw your baby walking freely yesterday, only to find them crawling again today? What should you do when your baby can walk but prefers to crawl?
Babies who prefer to crawl even if they can walk isn’t an uncommon scenario. In most cases, there’s nothing to be worried about. Also, it never hurts to pay a visit to the doctor just to be extra sure.
Beginning to crawl and slowly transitioning into walking is a lengthy process that has many variables. If you’d like to know why some babies crawl even though they can walk, then stick around!
- Understanding Baby Development
- Physical Ability vs. Preference
- Reasons for Preferring Crawling
- Developmental Aspects of Walking and Crawling
- When Will Your Baby Start Walking?
Understanding Baby Development: What Happens and When Does It Happen
A study in 2013 collected data involving 48,151 children. The study’s purpose was to find out the age for the onset of walking and pre-walking.
Most of the babies (75% to be exact) walked at 14 months. Half the babies walked around 13 months, and only 25% of them walked at the 12-month mark.
Based on this study, we can conclude that babies develop at different speeds but usually have more or less the same developmental stages. Let’s talk about the crawling and walking stage to get more into the matter.
The Crawling Stage
Babies may begin crawling as early as eight months old and up to 12 months old. Starting to crawl early or late isn’t usually an indicator of intelligence, as babies have different development speeds.
However, when your baby starts to crawl early, you should normally expect them to start walking early as well. Children who crawl on their hands and knees are also more likely to walk earlier than those who shuffle on their bellies.
According to the study we mentioned earlier, those who crawled on their knees and hands walked around 0.9 months earlier than their belly-crawling peers.
You shouldn’t be worried if your baby starts crawling a bit later than that (as long as you had him checked by a doctor and eliminated the possibility of any existing diseases). Some babies may start crawling earlier than seven months, which is also normal.
The Walking Stage
Babies may start walking between 10 and 18 months old. Since some babies are late bloomers, you can expect them to crawl for a while after the 10-month mark.
As such, you’ll notice some overlap between the walking and crawling stages. That’s when you’ll notice that your baby can walk but prefers to crawl.
That alternation between walking and crawling usually happens because the baby isn’t able to take a few steps without falling back to the ground.
Accordingly, your baby will need a bit more time to develop some skills first before being able to comfortably walk on both feet without falling.
Physical Ability vs. Preference: Baby Can Walk but Prefers to Crawl
As mentioned earlier, the overlapping of the walking and crawling periods causes babies to alternate between both activities.
The baby is physically able to put himself up, and you’ve seen the baby take a few steps over and over, but the predominant activity is crawling.
This raises some concerns for parents, especially if they’re aware that babies should start walking around a certain age.
Fortunately, it’s not something to be too concerned about. Whether your baby is a late bloomer or not, they may choose to crawl around even if they can stand up.
That’s a normal behavior and your baby will drop it soon.
Still, you might want to know why it happens to begin with.
Reasons for Preferring Crawling: Here’s Why Your Walker Is a Crawler!
Here’s why your baby can walk but prefers to crawl:
1. It’s Faster
The point from crawling is getting from point A to point B. Your baby is now trying another method to cross the distance he needs to, but that method is wonky and slow.
Babies at that age are building intelligence, and in their minds, it’s pointless to use a slower traverse method when they have a perfectly working one. After all, why change what works?
2. It’s More Comfortable
How does it feel when you’re used to driving a car all your life, and all of a sudden, you’re tasked with driving a bike?
It’s a daunting task, and that’s how it would feel to your baby. The baby is already comfortable crawling on all fours. So, at that stage, changing the way your baby “drives” around is pointless.
3. It’s More Stable
When your baby takes his first steps, you’re sure to throw a party. The baby will love it and it’ll make them happy. However, while the baby is indeed happy with his parents cheering for them when he starts walking on two legs, he’ll start questioning if it’s worth it.
Before walking becomes muscle memory, the baby feels that the loss of stability isn’t worth the cheers he gets from mom and dad.
4. It’s What the Baby Is More Familiar With
Your baby has been crawling for months. He’s already mastered the art of reptiling on the floor. It’s comfortable, it’s stable, and it gets the job done.
Now it’s time to walk on two legs. It’s not something your baby is familiar with. Some babies will quickly adapt to unfamiliar situations and even start walking earlier than usual. On the other hand, many babies may take some time to adapt to the new situation.
It’s important to give your baby some freedom in how they adapt to the situation. Each baby is unique and, as long as you’re ruling out any medical issues, all babies will get the hang of walking.
Developmental Aspects of Walking and Crawling
Walking and crawling will help your baby develop. However, they do so differently. Here’s how:
Crawling is the first independent movement your baby will have. It allows the baby to start exploring and develop their recognition of the environment around them. This exploration will improve the baby’s growth through:
The baby will start exploring the world, touching different surfaces, and experiencing various sensory stimulants.
Such exploration will help stimulate the baby’s brain and develop their sensory system as they interact with the world.
Your baby will face many obstacles while crawling around the house. There will be some inaccessible areas, high areas, and closed doors.
This will make the baby aware that they have to think to cross certain barriers, which improves their intelligence.
Once your baby starts crawling, they’ll understand the concept of space and the objects in it. They’ll learn that some objects can be climbed or leaned against and that some others need moving around.
You’ll notice that when your baby changes their crawling direction when there’s a closed door or a piece of furniture blocking their path.
If we ask you to crawl on all fours right now, you’ll actually have to focus while doing it. It’s no longer muscle memory to you, so your brain will need concentration to get it done.
The same goes for babies, especially in their early crawling stages. Learning how to move the left leg with the right hand followed by the mirror movement of the other limbs to crawl forward will enhance their ability to coordinate between their vision and muscles.
Crawling is the first activity to actively work the arms of your baby. The arms, legs, core, and back will have to work together to keep the baby moving.
This is when you’ll notice your baby gaining some muscle mass in their body for the first time.
Walking changes your baby’s world. They’ll have to re-learn how to move around and reprogram their brain accordingly to do so.
Your baby is now walking on two legs, so they have their arms free to re-explore the world in a whole new way. This will further develop your baby’s sensory system.
Walking on two legs is a problem in itself, so it’s the first obstacle your baby will have to go through to improve their problem-solving skills in their walking journey.
Your baby will learn how to use their hands to navigate through the world and potentially get rid of or climb over any obstacles that may stand in their way.
This might be the best time to take anything brittle from the tables and countertops. In other words, you should baby-proof your house.
Since babies will be standing tall, they’ll see the world from a different height.
This will give them a whole new concept of space awareness and improve their ability to understand the distances around them.
Walking takes your baby’s neuro-muscular coordination and motor skills to a whole new level.
Not only will your baby be responsible for balancing their chubby body on two tiny feet, but they’ll also have to maintain their balance with every step and explore the world around them as well.
This forces the brain to work double time to turn walking from a focus-based activity into a muscle memory activity.
The walking phase improves all of your baby’s leg muscles, hips, and core. The lower back muscles also develop because they play a major role in balancing your baby in their early walking stages.
It’s important to understand that none of these stages is more important than the other. All of them serve the overall motor skill development of the baby until they can walk.
When Will Your Baby Start Walking? (Physically Speaking)
Most babies start walking around 14 months of age, but what are the requirements for them to do that?
Babies won’t attempt to walk before their muscles are strong enough. Your baby’s arm muscles should be strong enough to help them lift up against objects like tables and couches.
Leaning against objects will place some load over the leg muscles to gradually strengthen them until the baby can walk upright.
Muscles aren’t the only requirement for babies to walk. Even if they have the required muscle strength, they won’t be able to walk without the required neuromuscular coordination.
Babies who live in a loving house and a safe environment to explore will be much more stimulated to crawl and eventually walk around.
Having the proper care and nutrition also plays an important role in the mental and physical development of the baby.
How Should You React When Your Baby Crawls Instead of Walking?
When you’re sure that your baby can walk, but you still see them crawling, you should only have one reaction; happiness.
Crawling, despite having the ability to walk, is nothing more than another step in the baby’s journey to walk on two feet.
Keep in mind that cruising doesn’t count as walking. Cruising is when your baby is taking a few steps while holding onto objects like tables and couches.
Those are considered assisted steps and you shouldn’t label them as your baby’s first steps.
In other words, your baby can’t walk yet at this point.
Babies are smarter than we think, and your baby may be crawling instead of walking just because they feel like it!
As long as you’re sure that your baby is healthy, having a few months of delay beyond the expected walking phase is normal.
Your baby may find it more convenient or simply faster to crawl for a while, but they’ll eventually get the hang of it and walk normally.
Both crawling and walking will gradually build up your baby’s motor skills, but the process can take a bit more than expected. So, be patient and just enjoy your time with your baby.