Proper crawling with babies

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Some babies do not like to crawl. They happily scoot on their bottoms, move asymmetrically using one foot and one knee, or inch along like a caterpillar. Still, other babies skip crawling altogether and start walking right away. This is, of course, super cute, but could it have potential consequences? In this article, I’ll tell you more about the importance of the crawling phase and what you can do to help your baby with it.

Motor development in baby

A child’s motor development normally follows logical, sequential steps. When all the prerequisites are in place, this motor plan develops automatically according to the human “blueprint”: Your baby first gains control of its head, later it braces itself on its arms in the prone position, it learns to roll, sits down, and moves into crawling.

Practising all these skills will make him physically stronger. When a baby begins to pull himself up on furniture and stand, the normal curvature of his spine begins to develop and his lower back and leg muscles become stronger. In other words, the crawling phase does the preparatory work for standing and walking.

Possible jammers in the crawl pattern

So if all the conditions are present, a child would start crawling when the previous milestones are reached. However, if there is a loss of movement in the body, this can have an impact on the child’s motor development.

For example, a child who has been in a breech position for a long time or has strong pressure on the sacrum (e.g. when pressing on the abdomen, during contraction stimulation, …) may have hips or spine that can easily get in the way when crawling.

Loss of movement higher up in the spine, shoulder girdle, chest or neck, on the other hand, can hinder proper support of the arms. It is also important that all primitive reflexes are sufficiently integrated. In other words, there are various interferers that can make it difficult for a child to follow the normal crawling pattern.

Every milestone counts

Each step or milestone in this development forms the basis for the next step. Once one step is automated, the next is much easier to learn. So skipping a milestone not only affects the skill itself, but also many others, such as hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, balance, and so on. So crawling means much more to your baby than just a way to get around.

Crossed coordination

When crawling, a child uses crossed motor skills: While putting his right arm forward, his left knee comes forward and vice versa. His right arm is controlled by the left hemisphere of his brain, his left knee by the right hemisphere. So both hemispheres of the brain work together to make crawling happen in a coordinated way.

This process, automated during the crawling phase, builds a solid foundation for all later learning processes involving cross-coordination such as reading, arithmetic, walking, cycling, dancing. Of course, this does not mean that a child who does not crawl will develop dyslexia, dyscalculia or other learning difficulties.

However, it is possible that learning these skills takes more energy than if crossing the centre line in the crawl phase were automated.

Spatial orientation

Crawling offers a baby many opportunities to understand spatial concepts. For example, a Butt Pusher will normally walk around an object, while a Crawler has the option to crawl under, over or around it.

In doing so, it promotes orientation of the physical world around him, relationship to it and position in it, qualities that will be useful later in life to solve problems, find the way or secure oneself.

Visual skills

Visual skills are also practised while crawling. By looking alternately at his hands and in the distance and reaching for things, he trains the adaptation of his eyes and the estimation of distances, which helps him later when catching a ball, transferring words from the blackboard or (much later) when driving a car.

Here are some tips to encourage a good crawling pattern:

  • Leave your baby in the carrier regularly from the beginning.
  • In this way, he learns to deal spontaneously with changes in his body in space, to which he automatically adapts. By carrying your baby ergonomically, you also ensure an optimal position of the back, pelvis and hips so that he or she can develop properly.
  • Avoid always putting your baby in the same position
  • Give your baby plenty of freedom of movement when he or she is awake
  • When awake, place it regularly on the stomach
  • Invite your baby to roll
  • When your baby can sit, ask him to turn around

Have you noticed that your baby is starting to move unusually?

Make an appointment with a paediatric osteopath as soon as possible. If you wait until your child has mastered this path, it will be much more difficult to motivate the child to learn to crawl, even if blockages have been released.

The earlier movement impairments are addressed, the better your child can develop in freedom from the body.

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