Crawling: Why is it such a big deal?
Crawling is one of the most exciting physical milestones for your baby! For the first time in their life, they are able to explore independently. Babies typically start to crawl between 6 and 10 months. However, we are seeing more and more babies bum scooting these days instead, or, skip crawling altogether and going right to cruising. While these babies can still have success, crawling is actually an important development stage and should be encouraged. Crawling is not just a method of locomotion - it impacts the development of other systems, including gross motor, fine motor, coordination, vision, sensory, cognitive and social development.
Gross Motor Development
Although crawling may look simple, it is actually a very difficult skill to master! It takes significant core, hip and shoulder strength to stay up on hands and knees, let alone coordinate movement to move around in this position. As one arm and leg move, the others that remain on the ground working harder to maintain balance so your baby does not fall over.
Fine Motor Development
Shoulder stability is essential to being able to use the hands for fine motor tasks. Think about it like the roots of a tree: roots planted deep in the ground stabilizes its trunk so it will not fall in the wind. If the roots are too shallow, the tree will not be able to grow tall and withstand a storm. If the shoulder is not stable the hand doesn’t have a base to rely on, making it more difficult for the hand to function. Crawling is the only time in our lives that we spend so much time weight bearing and experience deep pressure through our hands, a unique opportunity to develop that shoulder stability. Therefore, crawling is essential in developing fine motor skills, such as feeding yourself, manipulating a pencil, playing with toys, and so much more.
Coordination is essentially how your brain controls your body to complete certain movements. To have good coordination, both sides of the brain must work together. The reciprocal pattern of crawling requires for both sides of the brain to work together, so the more your baby practices crawling, the more these brain pathways are being developed. This can lead to more success in other coordination activities as they get older, such as walking, running, riding a bike, manipulating balls in sports, etc.
Up until now, your baby saw everything in their world from one spot. Most objects were either inclose proximity or were brought to them. Crawling allows a baby to develop depth perception. By moving themselves to an object, they start to learn how far away things are based on how much crawling it takes to get to it. Depth perception is essential later in life. We need it to go up and down stairs, step over an object, throw and catch a ball, and drive a car.
Crawling opens up a variety of new experiences for your baby. The input from their discoveries is significant and helps to develop the sensory system. All our joints have sensory receptors that benefit from the stimulation of moving around on all fours. The stimulation from crawling helps to develop your baby’s proprioception. Crawling also helps the vestibular system: Your baby is gaining the ability to balance as well as learn where their body is in space. Your baby will also gain new tactile information – from different temperatures they encounter, to different surfaces like carpet or grass, and so much more. All this new sensory information feeds the brain and makes it more active.
Crawling gives your baby much more independence than they ever had before. They learn to navigate their environment and will learn to remember where their favourite things are. Running into hurdles, such as a box in their way of their favourite toy, helps them develop problem-solving skills. They will start to discover both their potential and their limitations, and rely less on mom and dad to come to the rescue.
We love working with babies and have many a trick in our hat to help them achieve this important milestone!