After Farndon's dismissal from the band and Honeyman-Scott's death, Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers initially recruited Rockpile's Billy Bremner and Big Country's Tony Butler to fill in a caretaker line-up of the band in 1982. Bremner played guitar and Butler played bass on the band's September 1982 single "Back on the Chain Gang/My City Was Gone", both sides of which were later included on Learning to Crawl. As the album sessions got under way, Bremner, Graham Parker's bass player Andrew Bodnar, and Paul Carrack (formerly of Squeeze, Ace and Roxy Music) played guitar, bass and piano respectively for the track "Thin Line Between Love and Hate".
Finally, Robbie McIntosh (guitar) and Malcolm Foster (bass) were recruited to join Hynde and Chambers, and the band was now officially a quartet. It was this line-up that recorded the majority of the tracks featured on Learning to Crawl.
The November 1983 single "2000 Miles/Fast or Slow (The Law's the Law)" was the newly reconstituted foursome's first release, followed shortly by the full Learning to Crawl album in January 1984.
Hynde named the album "Learning to Crawl" because her daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde, was learning to crawl at the time that Chrissie was trying to determine a name for the album.