Crawling is an exciting milestone for your baby, one of those special moments and ‘firsts’ that you hope to remember alongside the first smile, first time rolling over and what not. However, sometimes babies miss the crawling stage all together while others are reluctant to give it a try. So here is your go-to guide on crawling. The first thing to note is that tummy time is the essential stepping stone that allows bub to start crawling.
Why is crawling important (and why it shouldn’t be skipped)?
– It stabilises the bones in the shoulder and hip joint (these joints are shallow and unstable at birth)
– It develops hand-eye coordination
– Practice for coordinating movement when the left and right side of the body is doing different things at the same time plus using upper and lower body at the same time too.
– Develops spatial and body awareness
– integrating the movement (vestibular), pressure & stretch (proprioceptive), visual and touch (tactile) sensory systems
– strengths muscles (fine motor and gross motor)
– helps develop visual skills by shifting their view between things close to them and further away
– it helps stop baby reflexes that aren’t needed anymore
How to help your baby be ready to crawl?
– Let bub lay on a variety of different surfaces and textures (hard floors, squishy pillow, soft blanket, grass etc.)
– Get rid of the baby chair and carrier in the home (these don’t develop muscle strength)
– Allow for free seated play (not in a restricted seat) that lets them twist and move their torso
– Lots of sensory play and exposure
– Encourage play that uses both hands (toys that are harder to hold, fabric etc.)
– Tempt them by putting favourite toys just out of reach
Why do some babies skip the crawling phase?
– Insufficient motivation – why: nothing is tempting them to move
– Infant reflexes aren’t developed or ready – fix: tummy time is crucial to avoid this
– Not enough opportunities – why: too much time being held or in a baby chair
– Lack of tummy/back rotation – why: babies need to be able to twist to shift the weight between hips
– Both sides of the brain aren’t coordinated – fix: allow time and activities that use both hands
– Tactile sensory defensiveness – why: they don’t like the sensation and pressure of crawling
– Muscle weakness – fix: tummy time from day 1, lots of time on flat surfaces and play with joint movement
– Model crawling to get toys yourself
– Have a variety of toys around at eye level during tummy time and play time
If you have a little one that has missed out on crawling and gone straight to walking, make an appointment with your family doctor to check their reflexes and sensory profile to avoid issues later in life. Better to check all is okay now than try to back step in years to come.
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