“Where is the baby? Did you put her down for a nap already?”
“No, I… She was just there. I swear I didn’t move her.”
“Seriously, Sam?! I told you to keep an eye on her.”
“She couldn’t be too far. She still hasn’t fully learned to crawl yet…”
Panic and confusion instantly crashed through the young couple as they noticed their nine-month-old daughter’s left pink sock was in the middle of the hallway.
“Oh, God… What if she tried and ended up being stuck face down again?”
Two minutes later, they heard a loud squeal and a musical toy. They rushed into the nursery and found their daughter happily playing.
“Looks like we need to baby-proof the house now.”
“There is no way. She just learned to scoot two weeks ago.”
Have you ever been in a similar situation? What were your first thoughts when your child reached the crawling milestone? Having a crawling baby can be nerve-racking. However, crawling marks a new beginning of an exciting, new chapter in your child’s life. Not only will he have the chance to develop physically, he will start firing up different parts of his brain. Before you know it, he will build self-confidence and make some of his first decisions, such as standing and walking.
Many overlook the importance of the ability of crawling because many spend most of their lives being vertical.
Imagine buying a different vehicle without test driving it. Would you automatically know where to locate all the controls? Crawling provides your child the fundamentals he needs to know how to walk properly. It is a basic movement that takes a considerable amount of coordination between all parts of the body. Crawling affects more than the early stages of development. It also will provide your child skills he or she will need to succeed in school, such as copying the board.
What if your baby skipped crawling and went onto walking? It is normal for some babies to skip crawling altogether. According to Dr. Andrea Ocmond, a pediatrician at Magnolia Pediatrics, “As long as your baby is moving around by scooting on their bottom or belly, usually we aren’t concerned. Parents should always notify their pediatrician if they feel their baby doesn’t move both arms and legs equally, if their baby doesn’t seem strong, or if they are concerned about their baby’s vision.”
The following list includes four reasons why crawling is actually important for your little one and shows how beneficial it is to your child’s life.
- Let’s Get Physical, Baby. As your little one learns to move on all fours, he strengthens his muscles and joints in the head, neck, arms, back, and legs. His gross motor skills soon develop as he gets used to being mobile and has good postural control. The larger movements he makes with his arms, legs, feet, or whole body contributes to the development of gross motor skills. These skills provide your child with a physicality he will need as he grows to walk, run, and jump. Your child will not only learn how to use his bigger muscles as he crawls. During the development of fine motor skills, he will also strengthen the smaller muscles in his body, such as hands and fingers. Therefore, your little one will learn how to grasp things, chew, write with a pencil, and fasten a button.
- One Way or Another. Crawling gives your little mover opportunity to learn spatial concepts. As he explores more and more, he will start developing a better physical understanding and orientation of the world around him, along with his relationship with and position within it. For example, a child who often prefers to go “through” things rather than “around,” he soon learns how to negotiate a more efficient path to his desired destination once he gains enough. This realization will be of vital importance throughout his life for problem solving, navigation, and self-preservation.
- Hungry Eyes. Crawling can also encourage the healthy development of near and far vision. Babies learn to train their eyes to figure out the distance to an object they want or to a destination before looking back down to their hands. Binocular vision is the term for this experience. Binocular vision helps us to calculate distances and make sense of what we see. Binocular vision also helps your child learn to track objects that can help with reading books and other things.
- Start Me Up. Crawling boosts left and right brain coordination. As your crawler moves, his brain processes hearing, sight and movement, all at the same time. Crossing the midline is very important for the two hemispheres (sides) of the brain. It shows that the left side of the brain works with the right side of the brain and vice versa. For instance, a child would move his left arm and right knee together then make one forward movement before moving his right arm and left knee next. The more your child practices crawling, the more harmonized and developed each of these essential skills will become. Once he gains good control of his muscle movements, he will develop a good balance. Balance is an essential physical requirement for your little go-getter to develop the ability to move on to being vertical.
Doesn’t matter if your little one is on the edge of crawling or already walking, there are many games you can play with him to have some fun on all fours. The following examples will not only encourage him in his crawling but will also bring on laughter and enjoyment.
Toy Teaser. Nothing motivates a baby more than getting to play with his favorite toy. Laura Wray, a local nurse and mother of two daughters, states, “We encouraged our oldest daughter, Rylee, to do those first crawling steps by placing toys slightly out of her reach to tempt her to crawl. Slowly but surely, Rylee would start taking a few steps toward her toys before fully taking off. She was nine months old when she started crawling.”
Texture Tester. Since your little mover is in the discovery phase, why not introduce him to some different textures? You can set out different items before he crawls, such as a soft faux fur blanket, a rubbery yoga mat, and gift tissue paper.
Tag, You’re it. Remember the thrill of playing tag as a kid? You could get down on all fours with your little one and crawl away from him, tempting him to become the chaser.
The Fluffy Course. If your crawler loves obstacles, you could create one with seat cushions, pillows, and blankets on the floor. You could even leave a special surprise, like a cookie, at the end.
Hidden Treasure. Does your baby get excited when he finds a misplaced toy? You could get him moving by hiding his favorite toys around the house. Be cautious about where you place them though. Dr. Andrea Ocmond informs that, “At any ability level, parents should ensure that the environment that babies are exploring is safe, free of choking hazards, and far from any stairs.”
Whatever you do to get him moving, make sure that it sparks his interest. Let everything happen naturally. All babies are born differently and develop at their own rate. For instance, local realtor Alicen Albin, mother of two boys, says that her oldest son, Axel, learned how to crawl properly the day before his first birthday. She notes, “I attribute this to two things: 1. At about 11 months old, we began introducing my son to other kids his age. Some of them could crawl and even walk. He found his own confidence to crawl through observing/mirroring their behaviors. 2. We had to work with him and help him develop this skill at his own pace.”
So, when you are worried about your child’s development and when he will start crawling, remember that small victories always lead to greater success!