As the saying goes, "You have to crawl before you can walk." While there have been cases of babies bypassing crawling to go straight to walking, most babies will become proficient crawlers some time during the second half of their first year.
Not all babies learn to crawl in the traditional fashion however. Some do a belly crawl (sliding along on their tummy) - and go straight from there to walking. Some babies prefer to remain upright and scoot around on their bottom rather than crawl. Others crawl backwards!
Whether or not babies need to learn to crawl forwards is a matter for some debate. According to some pediatricians and pediatric textbooks, crawling is not an important developmental milestone. The method of locomotion is irrelevant, say the experts, so long as babies learn to get from A to B.
However, according to childhood educator Glenn Doman, a pioneer in the field of right-brain training, crawling forwards is an essential skill to master. Doman claims that crawling stimulates the brain to develop convergence of vision - and that as a result, children who skipped this phase as babies may find it difficult to learn to read and write. In addition, children who missed out on crawling may suffer from speech problems, he says - because the same part of the brain (the midbrain) controls both functions.
In cases where a child has skipped the crawling phase, or did only a limited amount of crawling as a baby, Doman recommends practicing crawling every day for six months. To get a child who knows how to walk to do this, it will probably be necessary for her parents to get down on the floor and crawl around with her! (This should not be tried until two and a half to three years of age however, as before that, children are just too enamored with the newfound freedom of walking.) It may sound a little outlandish, but Glenn Doman mothers have attested to their success in improving a child's speech simply by getting her to practice crawling.