Why is crawling important for your baby’s development?
As a chiropractor with a special interest in child development I get very involved in assessing a child’s movement pattern, particularly if their parents tell me that their child never crawled. Perhaps you think that crawling is a natural part of development, however many children today are skipping the stage of crawling. Some parents may be happy that their child was so eager to walk that they didn’t need to crawl. Yes, it’s great that a child starts walking early, but how about asking yourself; is the crawling stage during development important for motor skills later in life?
The amount of difference crawling makes to a child’s development can be debatable. However, more and more paediatric therapists firmly believe that crawling is a significant part of their developmental milestone which can help develop motor skills and cross patterns that are important later in life.
What are cross patterns and why are they important?
Cross patterns are the connections between your right and left side of your brain. Most of these connections are developed your first year of life. When your baby crawls in traditional manner, the right and left side of the brain need to work cooperatively together. This builds a foundation of skills that require motor coordination. Hence, crawling plays an important role in your baby’s development of strength, sensation, balance, spinal alignment and visual-spatial skills.
What is the normal time for a baby to start crawling?
The most common time for a baby to start crawling is between 6 and 10 months. There are various activities that you can do with your baby to encourage this, keeping it fun and engaging.
Note: Every baby is different and unique. You might feel desperate to see your baby taking their first crawling steps to freedom, but try not to stress about it or compare your baby to others. It is important to support your baby in a fun, loving and encouraging way to develop this as a new skill.
When should you worry?
Babies start crawling at different times during their first year. If your baby has reached his/her first birthday without shuffling, rolling or any attempt to crawling you should contact your healthcare provider or paediatric chiropractor to assess for any underlying causes. If you notice that your baby is predominantly using one side to move around and seem floppy you can contact your paediatrician or chiropractor to assess this further
Is your child beyond crawling age but never crawled as a baby?
There are still so many things you can do to help your child develop these motor skills. Firstly, you can encourage your child to do some specific exercises that engage the activation of cross patterns as well as help with stability and balance. The best and most effective exercise for this is “Deadbug exercise” Its a very simple exercise that mimics reversed crawling to reconnect those cross patterns.
You can do this one together with your child to make it more fun and encouraging. At first he or she may struggle to get the coordination right, this should get easier within a few weeks.
Step 1. Starting position. Lay flat on your back and keep both arms and legs up in the air. You can bend the legs to 90 degrees.
Step 2: Alternate right arm and left leg down to the grown slowly and back up- then swop side. You can repeat this 10 times. Make your child count the seconds to engage them in the exercise.
You can also do the Happy Baby Pose
- Grip outer edges of the foot
- Bring knee to armpits
- Ankles directly above the knee
- Tailbone on the floor
- Hold this for 30-60 seconds
What are the benefits of the Happy Baby Pose:
This is a great exercise in combination with the Deadbug exercise. They are both beneficial for all ages. As well as increase stability, strength and coordination it also helps:
- Releases lower back and sacrum
- Opens hips, inner thighs, and groin
- Stretches the hamstrings
- Relieves lower back pain
- Stretches and soothes the spine
- Calms the brain
- Helps relieve stress and fatigue
If you notice that your child is struggling with balance, movement control or seems to be tilting to one side, you should contact your local health care professional or a chiropractor to asses for any neuromuscular involvement.
Elisabeth Berg Simmenes is a chiropractor at The Woodland Chiropractic clinic. She has a special interest in peadiatrics and child development. Contact her for any further questions and she would love to guide you in the right direction.
- Adolph, Karen E., Sarah E. Berger, and Andrew J. Leo. “Developmental continuity? Crawling, cruising, and walking.” Developmental science 14.2 (2011): 306-318.
- Masullo, Laura, and Marco Tripodi. “Crawling towards a map of the brain.” eLife 5 (2016): e15438.