Viral Video Shows a Newborn Crawling — but Here's Why It's More Common Than You Might Think

Haylee Thorson - Author

May 31 2023, Updated 2:19 p.m. ET

Hungry Baby Crawls At Three Days Old in @samantha_elizabeth__'s viral TikTok
Source: TikTok/@samantha_elizabeth__

Within the first year of life, it’s natural for infants to hit certain milestones at specific times, from teething to talking. And around the ninth-month mark, most babies are crawling on their hands and knees for the first time — or so one would think.

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In a viral TikTok video, creator @samantha_elizabeth__ documented her 3-day-old daughter lifting her head, crawling, and cooing for over 30 seconds. “I still can’t believe this happened…” the mother wrote in her caption.

So, how did this phenomenon occur, exactly? We did some digging.

Text describing hungry newborn baby crawling from @samantha_elizabeth__'s viral TikTok video
Source: TikTok/@samantha_elizabeth__
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How was the 3-day-old baby able to crawl? Research associates the movement with hunger.

During the video, Samantha and her mother were shocked to capture Samantha’s newborn child crawling on camera.

“How is that even normal?” the creator repeatedly asked as she taped the unprecedented event. “She should not be this strong!” the baby’s grandmother exclaimed when she lifted her head.

Naturally, the mother-daughter duo were not the only ones confused by the occurrence. But never fear! There is a logical scientific explanation as to why a newborn infant possesses the ability to crawl.

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On TikTok, Dr. Karan Raj — an NHS surgeon — stitched Samantha’s viral video with one of his own. “What this baby is doing is very normal,” Dr. Raj prefaced. “Tiny humans are pre-programmed with certain software updates for survival.”

The medical professional explained that one of these pre-programmed software updates is the “crawling reflex” or the “breast crawl,” a behavior infants exhibit when hungry and searching for a nipple to nurse on.

“If you put a baby on a mother’s tummy, it will crawl toward the source of milk like a homing beacon and latch onto the breast,” Dr. Raj said.

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Is the hungry newborn crawl rare? Here’s why you don’t see the behavior often.

Based on the internet’s reaction to Samantha’s video, most people haven’t encountered the newborn crawling reflex before.

According to Dr. Raj, all babies can crawl within the first few weeks of life. However, many cannot showcase their capability because they are often swaddled in blankets restricting their limbs.

The NHS surgeon revealed that infants exhibit breast crawling within six weeks of birth and then lose the ability.

And the crawling reflex isn’t the only innate behavior newborns have. Other reflexive movements include the grasp reflex, rooting reflex, startle reflex, sucking reflex, and more.

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TikTok creators had a lot to say about the hungry 3-day-old crawling baby.

Despite the crawling reflex being far more common than many might think, that didn’t stop the comment section from joking about Samantha’s baby’s undeniable strength. “She’s like, ‘I’M BUILT DIFFERENT,’” one person commented on the creator’s video.

Someone else joked, “Time to help pay rent!” Another creator even likened the 3-day-old infant to a superhero. “Supergirl,” they wrote of the newborn’s impressive crawling abilities.

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