Is crawling important?

My niece is 11 months old and she is still not crawling. My sister keeps saying that her Pediatrician told her it’s fine because she scoots on her bottom to get around. I feel like I’ve always heard about how important it was. What do you guys think? Thanks, I’m loving this group!!! :grinning:

@Momto2 Hi there!! Thank you so much for this question, and yes, you’re right, crawling is important because there are so many therapeutic benefits of moving reciprocally on the hands and knees. Here’s a blog that we wrote on the subject! :smiley:

Very quickly your baby goes from somewhat stationary to a mobile explorer. Once your baby hits the crawling stage, which normally begins anytime between 7-10 months, he is on the go and you are frantically making your home “baby proof”.

Interestingly, there is some disagreement among pediatric professionals about whether crawling is a true developmental milestone. Your child’s pediatrician may say that as long as your baby is moving from one place to the other, the method of movement doesn’t really matter. However, most pediatric OTs and PTs STRONGLY disagree. Crawling has tremendous benefits and is a stage of development that shouldn’t be missed! Here’s why:

1) Crawling builds the brain.

Both sides of the brain get practice working together. Our brains are separated into two halves, the left and right hemispheres, and are connected together by a neural “roadway”, the corpus callosum. As your baby crawls, his left leg moves in sync with his right arm. This reciprocal movement activates and coordinates both sides of the brain and helps to integrate some primitive reflexes that were needed earlier on, but are no longer necessary. Using both arms in a coordinated way is termed bilateral coordination, and is necessary to button a shirt, climb a ladder, and stabilize a piece of paper while writing.

Weight-bearing through the arms builds upper body strength from the shoulders all the way to the tiny muscles in the hand, developing the palmar arches so your child can effectively use a pencil in elementary school. Weight-bearing also provides valuable proprioception, which is necessary to develop a good sense of body awareness.

3) Crawling improves vision.

By actively moving through his environment, your baby is developing more efficient binocular vision (coordination and use of both eyes). As he looks to find his favorite toy on the other side of the room, his eyes work as a team as he crawls over, developing depth perception in a 3-dimensional world. Adequate binocular coordination is necessary to copy notes from a board, catch a ball, and go up and down stairs safely.

Crawling on different surfaces like carpet, tile, and even out in the backyard grass, helps to refine your baby’s tactile system (sense of touch). A refined tactile system greatly impacts both gross motor and fine motor coordination, allowing us to build, draw and paint. It even helps to develop language!

What to do to help your baby achieve this step:

TUMMY TIME! Get your little one used to playing on his belly, which will help develop his core and upper body strength. Eventually, he will push up on his arms and begin to get his legs underneath his body. Rocking back and forth on his arms and legs, he will have the courage and motivation to move one leg forward to explore his world!

Crawling around or over obstacles will help to improve his strength, balance, and motor planning abilities. Once he’s on the go, try placing your couch cushions on the floor for him to negotiate. Toys like tunnels and balls also provide the motivation and curiosity to keep your baby moving!

What if my baby misses this stage of development?

Even if the crawling stage is missed, you can go back to it! This means that you can still encourage your toddler or preschooler to crawl during play. Creating obstacle courses, holding yoga poses, and even hanging from monkey bars are all ways you can help your child achieve similar benefits.

*Bottom Line: Crawling is super important for both brain and body development. Even if your child misses this step, encourage crawling through play.

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Yes! I agree with everything @tots-mary said! I’m not sure there is much for me to add but if kids skip crawling I have them go back and do lots of games or activities that involve crawling. Tunnels are great for this!

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@tots-mary @Starfishtherapies Thank you both so much! I know that it was important, I just wasn’t sure all of the reasons why. I’m going to share these tips with my sister. Thanks again!!!

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@Momto2 You’re welcome!! :slight_smile:

I posted about my son being late to sit up about a month ago. He’s since started sitting up on his own. He’s had a sort of army crawl since he was about 6 months, but since he’s been sitting up on his own, I’ve noticed him on hands and knees more. Is it fair to say he could start crawling on hands and knees now because he’s finally able to sit up on his own?

Yes, that could be a factor that helps him with crawling especially if he is spending more time on hands and knees. I would continue to encourage hand and knee play. Let me know if you need ideas!

Thank you!

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Yes I agree with starfish therapies too. I tell parents all the time it takes trunk control to crawl. So your son gained great trunk control by learning to sit. There are a lot of activities in all fours that help him get to crawling like reaching (with one hand) and rocking! Learning to get in and out of sitting to all fours will help him crawl too . I will try to attach a picture next. You can also get his arms stronger by planking and doing the wheelbarrow walk ( few seconds at a time ) as well as holding his hands to knell walk. Then he will be even stronger to put it all together in the crawling pattern
Jennifer Aguillard PT PCS
@magicmomentstherapy

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So much good stuff above! Yes yes yes :slight_smile:

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Thank you!

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