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Simon will be nine months old next Monday. According to the books, that puts him five days away from crawling. Well, I’ve baby-proofed in anticipation of the big event, but I’m not counting on it happening anytime soon.

Simon hasn’t been early with any major motor skill, but this is the first he’s likely to miss altogether. In fact, I won’t be surprised if Simon skips crawling and goes straight to walking. I just hope that by the one year mark he’s found a way, any way, to get around. Dragging, crawling, scooting, that hybrid walk-crawl thing that makes babies look like gorillas-I don’t care which one. It’s just that I’m going to feel pretty silly if I’m pointlessly stepping over baby gates and fighting with cabinet latches for over three months while Simon stays put wherever I leave him.

So why can’t Johnny crawl? I lay the blame entirely on the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which cut down the incidence of SIDS by 50% but did so at the cost of baby pattern baldness and late or no crawling. That putting babies to sleep on their backs should delay crawling seems especially cruel when you consider that, with Simon at least, I had to swaddle him for over five months to get him to fall asleep on his back in the first place.

It’s just isn’t natural to put babies down on their backs. In fact, it triggers the startle reflex in newborns, making poor baby tense up, flail, and cry. But after you do this enough, baby grows so used to being on his back that tummy-down grows to be the hated position. Despite the assurance of all those happy babies on the Tummy Time activity mats, Simon did little but flop and shriek when I put him tummy down. We have no pictures of him sweetly looking up while propped on his arms because it rarely happened and never lasted long enough to get the camera out when it did.

For the most part, when you put Simon down, he struggles to get up, then groans and collapses. And screams; I musn’t forget the screaming part. At this stage, he will now reach for toys beyond his grasp, end up on his stomach, push his arms and legs in a crawl-like fashion without being able to raise up his whole torso, flop, and then roll over on his back. So he’s going through the motions of getting into position to crawl, but he hasn’t developed the necessary muscle tone to pull it off. And he needs a full dose of muscle tone, because holding up his melon head is going to take real strength.

Fully understanding the reasons for Simon’s delay, I’m pretty OK with it. It’s just that in a week he’s due for his nine month checkup and I know Dr. Newstadt will ask me about this. This is the same doctor who earlier suggested that I enforce tummy time even if Simon cries, that I sleep train Simon so I’m not getting up in the middle of the night any more, and that I irrigate his ears to remove excess wax.

I’m 0 for 3 on these tasks. And I’m simply not looking forward to getting a D in motherhood. So what can I do about it? I have two thoughts. I can plead my case to Dr. Newstadt (hysteria over tummy time, blah blah blah, nursed babies sleeping less, blah blah blah) or I can engage in evasive maneuvers. I’m liking that second option. In fact, I am seriously considering asking for Dr. Abrams this time, as she may not ask about the sleeping and will probably think the ear wax thing is new. That makes me 2 for 3 and should bump up my average to a B- at worst. Then maybe I can casually mention that I make Simon’s baby food, which should be good for enough extra credit to bring me up to a B/B+. It won’t make Simon crawl any faster, but at least I’ll feel better.

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