At the Crawler stage, your baby decides that sitting still just isn’t enough—he wants to be on the move—often to get something that’s out of his reach. He’ll go from rolling to crawling early in the Crawler stage, to pulling himself up later in this stage. You’ll also notice that your baby’s very own little personality is coming out now. Socially, he’ll be very affectionate toward you and people he knows, but may be shy with strangers. As his language skills improve, he may say “mama,” “dada,” and other simple words, and even understand their meaning. And he’ll take a more active role at feeding times by using his fine motor skills to practice eating finger foods.
As you watch your baby grow, remember that babies develop on different time schedules, so don’t worry if your little one isn’t developing at the same time as other babies of the same stage.
- Crawls with stomach off floor
- May pull self to stand
Babies crawl at different times—some early, some late and some don’t crawl at all—they scoot on their bottoms or “army crawl” with their stomachs on the floor. Some babies crawl like a bear—on their hands and feet instead of hands and knees—and that’s okay too. Your baby will start propelling himself one way or another—perhaps at first by just rolling across the floor, or rocking his body forward and backward, and then by creeping or crawling, and even pulling himself up to stand—motivated to get to a toy that he can’t reach. All of these methods of movement are wonderful and help support your child’s development.
Your baby’s fine motor skills are becoming much more developed now, too. Much to his delight, he can pick up small items using the pincer grasp, which allows him to pick up things between his thumb and forefinger. He can also release his grip on an object voluntarily when he wants to. He puts these skills to work when turning the pages of a board book, banging two blocks together, putting blocks into shaped holes, or accurately rolling a ball.
Around this time, your baby is starting to gain a greater understanding of language and concepts. Even though he can’t respond with words, you notice that he understands more of what you say, including phrases associated with a routine—such as when you stand next to his high chair and say “time to eat.” He also comprehends when you want him to do something—like hold out his hands to wash them.
Your baby also learns a lot by playing—either with you or on his own. But you don’t need to buy expensive toys. Your baby is fascinated by ordinary household items with interesting shapes, colors or textures such as plastic ice cube trays, wooden spoons, plastic containers—or anything that makes noise. Your baby will find out how things work by dropping, rolling, or throwing things. During the Crawler stage, your baby also learns more about object permanence. When you hide a toy under a pillow and remove it when he’s not looking, he’ll be certain the toy still exists and will keep looking for it.
Your baby may be a real talker now. He may be an expert babbler and even babble with inflection. He might also understand the meaning of quite a few words and near the end of this stage may be saying a few of them. Your baby may answer “yes” and “no” by nodding or shaking his head and understand simple questions. He might also be paying close attention to conversations around him—so speak slowly and clearly to be a good role model as he learns to talk.
During the Crawler stage, your baby will continue to explore new tastes and textures. His ability to pick up small items, along with the ability to use his jaw for mashing, makes it a perfect time for him to start eating finger foods that dissolve easily as well as foods that have more texture yet are still very soft.
As he becomes a regular at the dinner table, encourage a healthy feeding relationship between you and your child by:
- Recognizing your child’s eating skills
- Encouraging self feeding, with your help when needed
- Responding early and appropriately to your baby’s signs of hunger and fullness
Simply put, you provide healthy foods for your baby in a nurturing environment, and he decides whether and how much food to eat.
Hunger and fullness cues
You’ll be less likely to under or overfeed your baby if you understand his hunger and fullness cues.
At the Crawler stage, you’ll know your baby is hungry when he:
- points and reaches for food
- gets excited when food is presented
You’ll know your baby is full when he:
- turns his head away from the spoon
- spits out food or pushes it away
- becomes distracted by his surroundings more
What foods and textures are best?
During this stage of development, your baby will progress from pureed foods, to mashed, finely chopped foods and even crunchy yet fast-dissolving finger foods. There are no specific rules or ages for when to introduce a certain type of food because all babies have different requirements and appetites. But it’s important to introduce a variety of food from all the food groups over time. Try to broaden your baby’s palate with as many developmentally appropriate foods as possible. Add soft foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, pudding and GERBER® 3RD FOODS® purees to your baby’s diet. Finger foods include small pieces of cooked veggies or soft fruit like banana or avocado, well-cooked pasta, small pieces of bread, chicken, scrambled eggs, cereal, GRADUATES® Puffs, GRADUATES® YOGURT MELTS® snacks, or GRADUATES® LIL’ CRUNCHIES snacks.
How often should he eat?
Because your baby’s stomach is small, he needs to eat more frequently than an adult. During this stage, he may progress from eating a few spoonfuls of one food a few times a day, to eating up to 3 meals and up to 2 snacks a day. When he first began eating solid foods he might have preferred some breastmilk or formula first, followed by food, then more breastmilk or formula. Now he may prefer to have his solid foods first, followed by breastmilk or formula.
How much should he eat?
It depends on your baby. Remember that he will always take in enough food to satisfy his needs. There will be days when he won’t eat much at all, while other days he will seem to eat a lot!
As your baby’s solid food intake increases, the amount of breastmilk or formula decreases, but it should still be about 24 oz a day. For a bottlefed baby over six months, if you desire, you can offer water between feedings. In general breastfed babies can get their liquid intake from feedings. Once your baby is over 6 months, you can also give him 100% juice. Start with 1 to 2 fluid ounces a day. Juice intake for older babies can be up to 4 fluid ounces per day.* If you choose to give your baby juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you serve juice in a cup, not a bottle.
*4 fl. oz. = 1 serving of fruit per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); limited to once a day. The AAP encourages the consumption of whole, peeled fruits that are mashed or pureed for the remaining fruit servings.
Have a good supply of bibs on hand, cover the floor and move baby’s chair away from the wall—baby’s ready to feed himself and it might get messy! Now that your baby is starting to feed himself more often, it’s a good time to introduce a two-handled cup.
Your baby’s growth
Your baby’s weight gain slows down the second half of his first year, but he still gains weight steadily. By the end of the Crawler stage, your baby will be on his way to tripling his birth weight. The height and weight ranges provided in the charts below are representative of the majority of children at the age specified. Of course, healthy babies can also be outside this range. Remember that your child’s actual length and weight are not as important as the steady, appropriate rate of his growth. It is important to track your child’s length and weight over time as this is one of the key indicators of healthy growth and development. So keep plotting your child’s growth on a growth chart and discuss with your pediatrician at each visit, including if your child begins following a different curve on the chart or gaining weight or length slowly.
Typical length and weight for Crawler boys at 8 to 11 months
**indicates 10th-90th percentile range Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Typical length and weight for Crawler girls at 8 to 11 months
**indicates 10th-90th percentile range Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What you can do to help your baby’s development
As a parent, you can play an active role in every stage of your baby’s development. Here’s a recap of what your baby might be doing at this stage, plus some things you can do to support his healthy development along the way.
During this stage your baby may:
- Lean forward, backward and to the side as a way to test his balance
- Point to things he likes in a book
- Twist around when sitting
- Pull himself up to standing using a piece of furniture for support–but he may need help sitting back down
- Like to put things into a container—and take them back out
- Be shy with strangers
- Repeat sounds or gestures to get your attention
- Look at the picture when you name the object
- Become afraid of objects or situations that didn’t bother him before: the dark, thunder and loud appliances like the vacuum cleaner
- Wave “bye-bye”
- Participate in getting dressed by offering his foot for you to put his sock on or holding out his arm for his coat
Things you can do:
Have fun playing on the floor with your child every day
Encourage your baby to play with toys that help his hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, like blocks and soft toys, stacking toys in different shapes, sizes and colors and balls of all sizes
Help your baby walk by holding his hands and guiding him
If you speak a foreign language, encourage your baby to be bilingual by speaking it at home
Continue talking to your baby all the time using “adult talk”—during feeding, bathing, dressing, playing, and shopping
Read to your baby every day, but realize he may have a short attention span at this stage
Expose your baby to music; sing to him, put on CDs, or play with musical toys together. Just make sure the music isn’t too loud.
At meals, give your baby a spoon that’s identical to the one you use to feed him. He won’t be able to feed himself with it just yet, but he’ll like holding it as you feed him.