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Winter Babies Crawl Sooner

Katlyn Joy |21, September 2014


We know all babies have their own timetables for their development, from first smiles to first words. Now we know one factor for the milestone of crawling; what season the infant is born in.

From researchers at Haifa University in Israel, we have a study that says babies born in winter crawled five weeks sooner than summer babies.

For the study, researchers divided a group of 47 healthy infants into two groups. The first group of 16 babies was born between June and November, representing the summer to fall group. The other group of 31 babies was born between December and May.

The overall average age to crawl for the entire group was 31 weeks. However, the summer babies crawled on average at 35 weeks while the summer group crawled at 30. There was no difference in genders noted, nor did it matter what method the babies used initially to crawl, whether on the belly or on hands and knees.

Researchers from the University of Haifa's Department of Physical Therapy and the Department of Counseling and Human Development used the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, or AIMS, to measure the babies' development. This scale is used to assess an infant's gross motor development from birth to the point of independent walking. An observational assessment, it categorizes motor performance into the groups weight-bearing, posture and antigravity movements. The positions looked at are prone, supine, sitting and standing and the scale measures some 58 items in these categories and positions.

While the Haifa study found a significant difference in when the two groups of infants crawled as well as higher scores for movement in the prone position, no differences were found for supine, sitting or standing positions.

Although five weeks may sound inconsequential to those outside the realm of studies of development, the researchers pointed out, "The difference in crawling onset of 4 weeks constitutes 14% of a 7-month-old's life and is significant. Documenting the trend by comparing the results of a standard evaluation scale strengthens the findings and points to a significant seasonal effect in the Israeli context."

Why the Difference?

Researchers point out that the time of year isn't as crucial an element if there is not a seasonal change or climate change in the home environment. For instance, studies done in Osaka, Japan and Denver, Colorado had similar results as the one out of Haifa, Israel, whereas one conducted in Alberta, Canada had different results.

"Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild compared to other places in the world, it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel," researchers pointed out.

For instance, where there is significant cooling in winter, babies are likely to wear more layers of clothing at the age when crawling may commence, which would affect freedom of movement and the time of the successful onset of this developmental milestone.

To complete the study, researchers looked at the babies' motor development at age 7 months in their homes, and follow up was done when the babies started crawling. The parents were instructed to monitor and record the children's stages of development both before and between those observations of the researchers.

The researchers suggest that parents should be aware of the impact of the seasons, such as the amount of sunlight, the ease of movement due to clothing and give babies plenty of opportunity to develop these crucial developmental milestones. One such way is to give baby daily tummy time to develop those muscles and related coordination.

To encourage babies to develop such gross motor skills parents can do the following:

  • Make exercise time, or tummy time a daily activity.
  • Engage baby by playing games involving coordinated movements like reaching, balancing and supporting themselves in different positions.
  • Place colorful toys or playthings that make noise in babies sightline, but beyond their reach to encourage them to move towards their goal.
  • Cheer your baby's efforts, whether successful immediately or not.
  • Give baby a full menu of activities of various types. For instance, tummy time, time in an exerciser or jumper, supported with pillows or lap time.

Related Articles

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Mom Teaches Parents To Sign to Their Babies

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