Why should your baby crawl?
By Desiree Frigenti – Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist & Director of Ocean Kids Health.
To crawl or not to crawl – that is the question on the lips of every parent?
Crawling on hands and knees is an important developmental stage for babies, and it plays a crucial role in various aspects of their physical, cognitive, and sensory development. Here are some reasons why crawling is considered important:
- Motor Skills Development:
• Crawling on hands and knees requires the coordination of multiple muscle groups, including those in the arms, legs, and core. This helps in the development of fine and gross motor skills, fostering strength, control, and balance.
- Cross-Lateral Movement and Brain Integration:
• Crawling involves a cross-lateral or cross-crawl movement pattern, where the baby alternates movements of the left and right sides of the body. This bilateral coordination is believed to facilitate the integration of both hemispheres of the brain, supporting cognitive development.
- Spatial Awareness and Depth Perception:
• Crawling allows babies to explore their environment and navigate through spaces. This exploration contributes to the development of spatial awareness and depth perception as they learn to judge distances and understand the layout of their surroundings.
- Eye-Hand Coordination:
• Crawling helps babies improve eye-hand coordination as they use their vision to guide their movements and explore objects within their reach. This coordination is foundational for various tasks and activities throughout life.
- Proprioception and Body Awareness:
• Crawling enhances proprioception, which is the awareness of one’s body position in space. Babies develop a better sense of their bodies and learn to adjust their movements, accordingly, laying the groundwork for more complex activities like walking and running.
- Muscle Strength and Endurance:
• Crawling engages and strengthens muscles throughout the body, including the shoulders, arms, legs, and core. This muscle development is crucial for future physical activities and milestones.
- Independence and Confidence:
• Crawling allows babies to explore their environment independently. As they gain confidence in their ability to move around, they develop a sense of autonomy and a willingness to explore, which contributes to emotional and social development.
- Preparation for Standing and Walking:
• Crawling helps babies build the strength and coordination needed for upright mobility. The weight-bearing on hands and knees prepares the muscles and joints for the transition to standing and walking.
It’s important to note that individual babies may progress through developmental milestones at different rates, and not all babies crawl in the traditional hands-and-knees manner. Some may scoot, army crawl, or find alternative ways to move which could be an indication of poor postural control and tone. If there are concerns about your baby’s development or if they skip crawling altogether, consulting with a Paediatrician or Paediatric Physiotherapist can provide guidance and reassurance.
Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist