There may come a time when you’ll fondly remember the days before your baby could move around your home independently.  But if you’re at the stage when you often wonder if the baby crawling will ever begin, you may be getting anxious. This is one of the many times when new parents should make every attempt to be patient. There’s a wide range within the “normal” age babies crawl. And like every entry on the baby milestones chart, you don’t want to rush things or push your child. Here’s what to expect:

When do babies crawl?

Nine months is the typical age babies crawl. Other physical development milestones at this age include consistently sitting up without support or using a crib rail or the couch to pulling into a standing position. None of these are sudden developments, though. A few months earlier, a child will ordinarily start to sit up independently. And as early as six months, a baby may also start rocking back and forth and then sort of crawl backward before rocking forward again. To help your baby prepare to segue from these movements to crawling, the CDC recommends making it easier for her to sit in place and look around at the fascinating world. You might support her with pillows (but only when she’s attended), for example. Another simple method of encouragement before your child reaches the age when babies crawl is to rest him on his stomach on the floor with a few intriguing toys out of reach. This will give him a reason to roll over and reach out.

Encouraging your child’s development

Whether it’s motor skills like a baby crawling or cognitive skills like puzzle-solving or speech, parents can help their child at every stage of development. The goal isn’t drills or formal lessons, but more providing lots of interaction with adults and a safe environment to explore and grow. Here are a few “positive parenting” tactics that help with the transition from sitting up to crawling:

-Talk aloud to your child starting in the womb. You may feel silly, but your voice calms him and your singing aids brain development.

-Cuddle your baby so she’ll feel secure enough to explore at every stage, from crawling to walking (yes, that’s what’s up next!)

-Instead of yelling warnings when the baby crawls somewhere you’d prefer she not go, distract her with a more appealing option. Or, quickly and firmly scoop her up and place her in a safe area.

Revisit babyproofing

If this is your first child, you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes when your baby is crawling. Even veteran parents might forget all the repercussions of a baby who’s now independently mobile. Some of the changes to come are awesome. A baby who can crawl gets a big boost to the old self-esteem, and that confidence can be a joy to behold. It’s also fun to participate while baby has so many firsts in this stage of development, from her first adventure with the cat’s food bowl to her first time crawling to the door to greet her parents when they arrive home from work.

But this is also a milestone that requires an amped up level of babyproofing. If you haven’t examined the household for potentially dangerous furnishing and items since you came home from the hospital with the newborn, be sure to take a second pass at babyproofing. Do this before the baby is actually crawling! Just a few things you’ll be looking for include loose splinters on hardwood floors and any tacks or nails that are sticking up. You’ll also want to make extra-sure you identify any cabinets and drawers a baby can now zoom over to and fasten them shut with a latch. At the same time, make sure there aren’t any toxic or harmful items in those drawers, so there’s no risk of the baby accidentally accessing a drawer someone forgot to latch. Sharp edges are also more threatening now that crawling is about to become the new household fad. Be sure to cover sharp edges on the furniture and kitchen appliances, either with safety padding or bumpers sold just for the purpose of babyproofing.

If your baby doesn’t crawl at 9 months

The CDC and other childhood development experts don’t consider “not crawling” to be a potential sign of a developmental delay until a child is 12 months old. So there’s no reason to push the panic button just because your child doesn’t start crawling the day she turns 9 months old. But childcare experts do warn parents of very young children to note any behaviors that could indicate developmental delays. At age 9 months, according to the CDC, you’ll mostly be watching for things your child doesn’t do, including babbling about mama, dada, and doggy; taking her weight on her legs (with some support); sitting with help; or playing any games that require her to interact with someone else. Note, though,

If you do note your child isn’t reaching these milestones, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician or nurse. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics already recommends a general-development screening when your child is age 9 months, that’s a good time to bring up the conversation. In general, the earlier you detect and address developmental delays, the better your odds of minimizing their impact. Your pediatrician may give you a reference to the state’s public early intervention program, or you can see what’s available on your own by visiting the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/concerned.