Why Do Babies Army Crawl? (It’s Cute To See Your Little Commando In Action, Though)

Babies hit many milestones during their first year of life, and by far, crawling is one of the cutest. There’s something about seeing your little one starting to become mobile that is at once endearing and terrifying. While you might expect your child to go on all fours and amble about, there are some babies who customize their crawling in all sorts of creative ways. So if you’ve noticed that your babe looks more like Rambo than the sweet 6-month-old that they are, you might ask yourself, “Why do babies army crawl?”

Look, it’s absolutely adorable when your little commando goes on their belly to scootch across the floor. And because no two babies are the same, it makes sense that your child’s crawling style can be completely different from their fellow baby BFF. As it turns out, there are several crawling styles, according to Healthy Children. There’s the traditional hands-and-knees cross crawl, where babies put their weight on their hands and knees while moving opposite arms and knees to propel themselves forward. Some babies bear crawl (i.e. they keep their elbows and knees straight, walking on their hands and feet like a bear), while others scoot about on their bottoms.

What Is Army Crawling?

“Army crawling — also called belly or commando crawling — is when a baby props themselves on their elbows and moves their body forward while dragging their tummy and legs against the floor,” says  Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D., apediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby On The Block. “Army crawling is a bit of a graduation from baby scooting, where little ones sit on their bottoms and use their arms to propel themselves forward.” It’s also known as belly or commando crawl.

Why Do Babies Army Crawl? 

You probably wouldn’t be the only parent to panic if you see your child dragging themselves across the floor instead of the classic style of crawling. Although it’s not the type of crawling you might be accustomed to seeing, that doesn’t mean that army crawling is a bad thing. “Not every baby crawls in the traditional hands-and-knees manner — in fact, some babies skip crawling all together,” Karp explains. While army crawling isn’t something to necessarily worry about, it could be a sign that your child’s shoulders and core need to get stronger so that they can progress onto their next milestone. In terms of motor behavior, your baby might army crawl as they are learning how their body parts work together, improving their hand-eye coordination, and mastering their balance, per a PubMed study.

What’s The Difference Between Creeping And Crawling? 

While crawling is commonly associated with Baby’s first attempts at independent mobility, there’s another term you might not have heard of — and that’s creeping. While it might sound creepy to say, “Hey, my baby has been creeping all day!”, well, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing if they’ve been “crawling.” You see, what we call crawling isn’t crawling at all…it’s creeping. Confusing? Lily Baiser, MS, OTR/L, a licensed pediatric

occupational therapist offers an explanation: “Crawling is where the baby’s belly is on the floor, and they use their elbows and knees to propel themselves across the floor,” she says.  “Crawling helps develop the muscles to allow for creeping, which is where babies’ bellies

are off the ground and bear weight on their hands and knees.” Here’s an easy way to remember it: if your baby’s belly is touching the ground, they’re crawling. And if they’re moving around on all fours, they’re creeping.

Can Army Crawling Be A Sign Of Autism? 

“Studies have shown that babies with autism spectrum disorder may be less likely to engage in traditional hands-and-knees crawling, but most of the time, army crawling doesn’t point to any developmental delays or issues,” says Karp. “As long as your little one is trying to explore and move independently, they’re doing great!” Milestones matter (especially in your child’s first year of life) so if you are concerned about your child’s crawling capabilities, you should speak with their pediatrician about it.

From bear to belly, crab to commando, there are so many ways your baby might choose to crawl. Or they just might surprise you by standing up one day and wobbily walk towards you. As long as they’re meeting their milestones, how your baby chooses to crawl is completely up to them. Because once they’re on the move All. Day. Long, (and you’re chasing them to keep them safe), you’ll be the one crawling — onto your couch from sheer exhaustion.

Studies cited:

Adolph, K., Franchak, J. “The development of motor behavior” 2016.


Lavenne-Collot, N., Jallot, N., Maguet, J. “Early Motor Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Are Marked By Less Frequent Hand And Knees Crawling” 2021. 


Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby On The Block

Lily Baiser, MS, OTR/L, a licensed pediatric occupational therapist 


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