Why is crawling so important and why should we encourage our babies to crawl?
Why is Crawling Important for Babies?
Crawling is one of the most “essential developmental phases for optimal future learning.” writes Sharon Promislow, an educational Kinesiologist and Educational Consultant. Not only does it strengthen the neck, arm, leg, and trunk muscles of a young child, but the mechanics of crawling actually stimulate different areas of the brain which influence the child’s ability to learn.
Not only does it encourage learning, it also encourages fine and gross motor skills by strengthening large and small muscle groups. It stimulates far and near visual and tactile senses. Also understanding language with both ears, instead of laying to one side with only one ear towards a noise. This helps to increase their visual and auditory learning skills. It also helps with cross-lateral movement (using both sides of the body in coordinated movement), and coordinating arms, legs, hands, feet and eyes together. This enhances how children share and make sense of different sensory inputs from the body.
The most important reason is that the myelin, which is a substance that coats the nerves in the body, is produced the most when crawling. This helps the messages the brain sends and receives to be clear and completed faster. And more myelin means faster and clearer learning for your baby.
Most importantly, crawling is movement based learning, which is how all children are designed to learn.
Some great books to read on this subject are:
- Smart Moves – Why Learning is not all in your Head by Carla Hannaford
- Dynamic Self: Activities to Enhance Infant Development by Anne Bailey and Elsie Carter Burton
- Your Active Child – How to Boost Physical, Emotional and Cognitive Development through age appropriate activities by Rae Pica
The most important thing from all of this; encourage your baby and child to be on their stomach and to crawl. Working your way up to 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a day is ideal. Starting out at 1-2 minutes and then getting to 5 minutes is the first step, even 30 seconds sometimes. Make it fun, interact with them, encourage them to move around and explore their world.
Check out this fun activity using a tunnel to fine motor skills to encourage crawling with your older baby and toddler.
More resources on crawling from other therapy bloggers:
- Does Crawling Matter? – MamaOT
- How Does Crawling Develop? – MamaOT
- Benefits of Crawling – Pink Oatmeal
- Crawling Tip for Outdoors – Pink Oatmeal
For more Occupational Therapy tips, follow my OT Tips from GRB Pinterest board.