Is crawling really that important to your baby's development? The question I seem to get asked most these days is, “Is she walking yet?” Walking is a major milestone, but let's not forget about the equally important skill of crawling. Today I am going to share 3 tips on how to encourage your baby to crawl.
In the last couple of weeks my daughter has mastered crawling. She is 10 1/2 months old and decided that our vacation to VA a couple weeks ago would be the perfect time to start teething, crawling, and trying to stand up.
As an Occupational Therapy Assistant this made me happy. I will be honest, I was worried about what to do if my baby never crawled. I know many of you wonder if crawling is really important. Many doctors and others now say that crawling is no longer important and if you baby skips it they will be fine. However, I tend to disagree with this. Crawling is huge milestone and is important for future learning experiences your baby will have.
Why is Crawling So Important for Baby?
The first reason is it is excellent practice in bilateral coordination, or using both sides of the body together to do something. Other skills your babies will use this for down the road are many gross motor skills such as riding a bike and fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors or writing.
Binocular vision, which is the eyes being able to look ahead in the distance and then back at hands during crawling is another important skill. Can you think of something an older child may use this for? Sitting in a classroom looking up at the chalk board or white board and then back down at their paper or hands at their desk.
There is also an interesting hypothesis or idea with the lack of crawling and ADHD. Not crawling will not allow the STNR (symmetric tonic neck reflex) or the reflex of coordinating ones body in a baby to be inhibited or matured. This reflex is matured after the child is able to crawl for at least 6 months.
If this reflex is not matured, then it can cause many issues down the road such as slumping in chairs, poor eye-hand coordination, poor attention and many others.
3 Tips to Help Your Baby Crawl
So now that you can see some of the benefits of crawling let's get to the 3 tips that will help your baby to crawl. These are what have worked for my daughter and me; remember that all babies are different so you may need to tweak or change some of these to fit the temperament or interests of your baby.
1. Tummy Time
I am a huge supporter of tummy time. With the age of containers for carrying babies everywhere and the Back to Sleep campaign, which is important, tummy time is now equally important. When doing tummy time babies learn to hold their heads up, use good head control, strengthen neck and trunk muscles, which then turns into being able to roll, get up on hands and feet, and then start coordinating crawling.
Guess what? Sometimes, babies hate tummy time. You would too if your mom stuck you on the floor and you had no way to move and your head was buried and it was sore to lift it up time and time again!
But patience, patience, little baby steps. Start out with 15 seconds, even 5 seconds at a time if you have too, a few times a day.
I will be honest here; I let my daughter fuss. I didn't help her much. When she got to a full out cry, then I picked her up. But let them get frustrated a little bit, that is when they are learning and figuring things out.
Obviously if they are screaming at the top of their lungs and thrashing around, no one is learning anything. Pick that baby up and comfort them, then try again later.
2. Encourage With Toys
Nothing encourages a baby to go after something more than their favorite toys. Set them just out of reach so that they have to learn to roll initially, then farther away once they master that. My daughter became quite the expert roller. She was a speed demon on the floor! We ended up taking our coffee table out of the living room so she had a nice open space to roll in. I placed toys throughout the room and just let her do her thing.
Again, I kind of sat back and let her take the lead. I didn't help out much. I left her to figure things out and then praised her greatly when she succeeded. Rolling turned into hands and knees, and the cutest little baby bum in the air that you ever did see.
By far the most exciting things to her that got her moving were not “toys.” Laundry baskets, remotes, my cell phone, computers, and especially my water bottle or the cat walking through, would get her so excited she would try to take off after them, or reach as far as she could to get it.
Here are some fun toy ideas to encourage crawling:
3. Let Them Figure It Out
Babies are so smart, they are humans after all. They can figure things out perfectly fine on their own. Honestly, sitting around worried that they aren't doing something quite right or not reaching for that toy you are dangling in front of their face is not going to help much.
The most important thing is to have things for them to look at, areas large enough to explore and then let them at it. Sit back and watch the hilariousness that is bound to happen. The happy little squeals when they get something they want. They are their best when us as parents sit back on our hands a bit and let them figure it out, without helping unless they absolutely need it (or start crying or screaming).
Here are some more resources for learning about and encouraging crawling:
- Tips for Helping Babies Learn to Crawl – MamaOT
- How Does Crawling Develop? – MamaOT
- What Can I Do If My Baby Doesn't Crawl? – CanDo Kiddo