These are questions I hear from parents a lot. I'm seeing more and more babies skip crawling and as a developmental movement teacher this is a bit worrisome. Crawling is an important milestone that, in my opinion, needs to be reached and reached properly. Many things are being organized in the body and brain during crawling, making it essential to development and self esteem continuing well into adolescence and adulthood. Crawling should begin around 7, 8 or even 9 months and continue for as long as...well as long as it takes!
I believe the reason why we are seeing less crawling is because we are seeing less tummy time. Parents are opting out of tummy time because their baby doesn't like it, fear of SIDS or they are just not doing it long enough. The lack of time on their belly doesn't allow for their upper body to develop the way it should. We see this when a child is sitting upright before they are strong enough and their upper body ends up collapsing over their legs. Tummy time is essential and needed to help organize the body on the ground before pushing up on all four limbs and crawling. We can think of it as 3 different times the body needs to organize itself. 1st is tummy time on the ground. 2nd is crawling on hands and knees and 3rd is walking.
Hand and knee crawling requires opposite-side limb movement unlike the belly crawling which emphasis same arm same leg (lizard pose in yoga). This is called control-lateral or cross body movement, and is something we practice in class, during our "hand to your knee" song. Our brains have two hemispheres that are connected by a 'walkway' called the corpus callosum. This is actually a collection of nerve fibers that can be strengthened by doing cross body work. Musicians have some of the strongest corpus callouss due to their hands usually doing different things at once. The cross body movement allows the two side of the brain to communicate with each other. The repetitious movement helps stimulate and organize neurons, allowing the brain to process things like comprehension, concentration and memory.
Another puzzle piece of crawling is learning binocular vision, which is training the eyes to focus on a single object, creating one image. When a baby is crawling they visually determine where they want to be and then move their body to that spot. When a baby is crawling they are looking at their determined spot, and then back at their hands crawling on the floor. This forces the eyes to focus on difference distances which will eventually help with tasks like catching, driving and hand eye coordination. This then plays in to spatial awareness, as a child crawls around a space they discover distance and placement of objects. Through trial and error play they can learn how to maneuver around something in the way, whether thats by climbing over it or creating a new path around it, and voila! They just implanted a fantastic problem solving technique!
Learning and mastering crawling is also a self confidence boost! A baby learns about taking risks and the failures or successes that come along with it. They learn how to make decisions about speed, destination and the joy of reaching those goals. Once they reach their toy or person they were headed for you'll see the instant joy on their face along with clapping! That is a proud baby who just got a major does of self confidence!
So what if you have a baby who isn't crawling? Don't worry, there are lots of way to encourage crawling. Tummy time is always going to be a great place to start and find a way to make it interactive. There's nothing worse than being put down on the floor and being left alone. You can get down on your own belly and talk to them. You can also place a mirror in front of their face so they can enjoy looking at their own reflection. Placing their favorite toy away form them will peak their interest in trying to move and reach that toy. Rolling a ball away from them can also be enticing enough try and crawl after. If you have a baby who is over tummy time, is scooting on her bottom or already trying to walk, then I suggest putting them in situations that give them the opportunity to crawl. Such as, playing with tunnels, crawling under kitchen chairs. You can also get down on your hands and knees as a way to demonstrate what you'd like them to do, babies love to imitate! Keep trying to offer opportunities to crawl instead of standing or walking. Make it fun!
Not all babies who skip crawling are going to have difficulties, but the goal is to give them opportunities to reach these milestones now, instead of needing to work on them later in life. Instead of focusing on what your baby isn't doing, focus on what she is doing! Focus on progress. Babies can only hit so many milestones at once, so maybe your baby is hitting a language milestone? Maybe she is feeding herself with a spoon? Most importantly, stop comparing your baby to other babies. The truth is every baby is different, even your own children. Just because one walked at a certain age doesn't mean the other will. If your baby is continuously not hitting milestones then the best thing you can do is talk to your Pediatrician.
Ansley has been teaching Infant Movement classes since 2013, after studying Developmental Movement with Ellynne Skove. Since completing her training Ansley has taught all over the New York, New Jersey, Boston and now Florida. Ansley is certified in Level 1 Reiki and has completed her 200hr YT. She is passionate about empowering, nurturing and providing care to all families as they encounter the demands and joys of parenthood. Through her work she is able to soulfully fulfil her greatest ambition; to care for others.