When your baby is blind you often hear that they will “develop at their own pace” or that it’s “normal” for them to be behind their sighted peers. While these statements are supposed to make you feel better as a parent, it’s really just more confusing. So when is late too late? When should I start to be worried that there is another issue besides blindness?
Crawling is a big milestone that is also really obvious. Parents are always happy to announce that their baby is finally crawling independently. So… when does a blind baby usually start to crawl? Of course, that question isn’t easy to answer.
It says that blind babies should be crawling by 4 to 6 months, but it’s probably more accurate to look at the “Creeps forward on hands and knees 3 feet or more” at 9 months.
That said, the Reach Out and Teach book by Kay Alicyn Ferrell does point out that “Many visually handicapped children do not crawl. They start walking without ever really going through a crawling period” (page 106).
But Ferrell goes on to explain that crawling is really important developmentally because it encourages hip rotation which then helps when children are learning to walk.
So, I guess my point is that there is no one clear answer to when a blind baby will begin to crawl. Some will crawl late and some will skip this stage altogether. Many blind babies will do what’s called a “five-point crawl” with their head on the floor to help stabilize their body; other will do more of a creep or “bunny hop,” sliding their knees together rather than moving their legs one at a time. I would also say that a 6 month delay is pretty normal for a lot of babies with visual impairments.
However, if your baby is 12 months or older and still not crawling, creeping or standing or has significant low muscle tone, then you should probably talk to your doctor. Also, if you’re at all worried about gross motor delays then your baby should be getting physical therapy through Early Intervention.
What are other parents saying?
I also put this question to our WonderBaby community to see what other families have experienced with crawling. Here is what they had to say:
“My son was born with LCA and is now 4 years old. He crawled at 11 months and walked at 14 months!”
“My son did not crawl and went straight to walking. He has no functional vision and minor light perception. Didn’t believe he would crawl and he didn’t.”
“My son has SOD and is completely blind. He never crawled really. He would sometimes put his head on the floor and crawl backwards. Think it’s so his butt would hit something instead of his head 🙂 He didn’t actually walk without holding onto something till 3.”
“My daughter born with LCA crawled at 14 months (we didn’t think she would ever), she is now 18 months and learning to stand unaided but loves to walk pushing her trolley.”
“My daughter has LCA and she never crawled, but I would place musical toys all over her play area and she rolled to them. 🙂 She would roll so fast that I couldn’t catch her! She began to walk shortly after she turned 1.”
“My son scooted around more than crawling at about six months, and it took him till two to actually take off and walk alone.”
“My daughter has SOD. She crawled around nine months but didn’t do it more than a foot or two until she was about 14 months. She took her first steps at 16 months. Now a month later she isn’t independently walking and we’re working hard on that so we can try to potty train around two.”
“My daughter bypassed crawling as well. Straight to ‘cruising’ alongside furniture by 9 months and true independent walking at 14 months. She is totally blind, no light perception.”
“My totally blind son crawled at about 10 months (often with his head dragging on the ground since he had no motivation to look up) and walked at 18 months.”