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What Crawling Does For Your Baby

Katlyn Joy |21, May 2013


Parents love helping their little ones achieve their milestones, reach their developmental stages and grow strong and healthy. But what is the best way to help your baby learn to crawl? And is crawling really important? After all we've all known some child who skipped this milestone and went straight to walking.

Why Crawling is Important

Crawling success is linked to learning to read, write, having hand-eye coordination, developing socially and emotionally, strengthening visual perception, and sensory processing in general. Here are some specific ways crawling helps baby:

1. Baby will test his distances and connection to you while crawling.

Ever watch a baby crawl away from Mom then look back over his shoulder and smile? This child is learning about himself as separate from you. That look back gives him confidence that you're still there, and he's OK to explore his world.

2. Crawling develops binocular vision.

Binocular vision is used when baby looks into the distance then down at her hands. This skill will be used later in the classroom when the child copies words from a blackboard onto her own paper.

3. Babies learn and perfect bilateral integration.

Sounds fancy but what we're talking about here is learning to use both sides of the body together. Learning to use both eyes, hands, legs, feet and ears and synchronize their movement or use increases right brain/left brain coordination.

4. Judging distances.

Babies will typically find motivation in wanting to reach something and eventually realize crawling gets them there. How far away something is a question a curious baby must learn the answer to and this is a skill we all must develop.

5. Iimprove memory, concentration and comprehension

The repetitive movements of crawling improves baby's memory, concentration and comprehension. Of course this enhances all brain activity and learning that baby will undertake today and throughout life.

6. Crawling strengthens muscles.

When a child crawls the muscles of the trunk, hips, shoulders and legs as well as hands. This enables a child to prepare for the next stage of standing and walking.

Ways to Help Your Baby Crawl

Now that you know it's more than a cool photo op and bragging point, how can you aid your little one to begin crawling?

Don't neglect tummy time.
While it's critical that baby is put to sleep on his back, when it's play time, get baby on tummy to help those muscles develop so crawling is possible.

Help baby get into position.
You can start by putting baby's elbows under her in crawling position close to her body.

Prop baby with a roller object.
You can roll up a towel, find a soft cylinder shaped toy or improvise. You will be providing constant supervision but you still want to be sure the object is free of choking hazards.

Remove barriers.
Don't put a slippery rug or blanket beneath baby if you have him down on a wood or linoleum floor. That's just cruel. Also, shove the coffee table out of the way or anything else baby is likely to conk her head on.

Dress baby for crawling success.
This is one case where clothes do matter. Too restrictive playsuits or outfits with zippers or adornments that may catch, constrict or plain feel uncomfortable while on tummy are no-gos. While you can find knee pads for the occasion, most babies have managed fine without for the vast expanse of history.

Place colorful toys, noisy toys, even much coveted after adult objects such as cell phones or remotes, out of baby's swiping reach. Once baby gets to the bait, don't grab it away and frustrate him into howls. However, don't let baby chew on germy remotes, things with unprotected battery space or the like.

Let baby see his successful moves.
Prop a mirror up against the wall or couch so baby can be mesmerized by her moves.

Be a cheerleader.
This likely will come quite naturally. Just clap, hoot, giggle and squeal with proud delight as baby begins to get the moves down.

What's Your Baby's Crawling Style?

The crab - This crawler prefers to crawl with one knee bent and the other extended and scoot about.

Commando crawler - This baby is ready for special ops, crawling flat on tummy and propelling forward with the use of the arms.

Classic crawler - This is the traditional alternating arms and legs motion we expect.

Reverse crawler - This baby gets where he's going, only in reverse.

Ways to Enhance the Crawling Experience

Let baby crawl on different types of surfaces to give the crawling experience a sensory one with varied textures. Give baby a thrill by building tunnels to crawl through using open boxes. Make sure staples are removed! Model the behavior by getting down on all fours and crawling for or in unison with baby.

Katlyn Joy is a mother to 7 children, and a freelance writer. She earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing and Poetry, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and was previously an adviser to new mothers on breastfeeding through a maternity home program. She currently resides in Colorado with her family.

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