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Annemarie Sansom


Hi, my name is Annemarie and I am the Client Services director for Night Nannies. I use this blog as a way to give you tips and idea's in all areas of childcare and development.

Posted 12 August 14

Does my baby need to crawl?

YES! Crawling is a very important developmental stage. Parents often compare milestones which can make us all feel like we are in a race against each other about who has the fastest baby to achieve these milestones. Developmental stages occur at different times for different children. Yes it's hard not to compare but really you shouldnt.

Why is crawling so important?

Ann Zachry Occupational Therapist discusses on Babble for Disney 'how the experience of crawling plays a critical role in infant development, and that it is not good for a baby to skip this milestone. Yet, we often hear of infants totally bypassing the crawling phase to go straight to walking. Whether or not crawling truly plays a significant role in infant development is a matter of debate among some medical and research professionals, but many pediatricians and therapists firmly believe that parents should encourage their little ones to crawl on all fours, at least for a brief period of time.

There is growing evidence that crawling plays a role in the development of an infant’s strength, balance, spinal alignment, visual-spatial skills, and socio-emotional development.

Crawling engages the baby’s whole body. When a baby crawls, he has to use his arms and legs to lift his trunk off of the floor. While working against gravity to move about, he is strengthening the muscles in his trunk, shoulders, arms, legs, and hands. Holding his wrists in an extended position and bearing weight on his hands while crawling develops the arches in his hands, influencing fine motor skill development. The action of crawling also plays a role in forming the curves of the spine, which are important for future spinal function.

Crawling also influences the development of visual skills. When crawling from one place to another, a baby frequently uses her “distance vision” to look ahead and set her sights on a goal. She then looks back at her hands, which requires her to adjust the focus of her eyes. These adjustments are good for training the eye muscles and improving binocular vision, which is the ability to use the eyes together as a team. Efficient binocular vision is necessary for the future skills of reading and writing.

Crawling also influences an infant’s socio-emotional development. This means that positive and negative emotions are expressed more frequently and intensely as this skill develops. In fact, infants only develop a fear of heights after several weeks of experience with crawling. As a baby begins to move about independently, she has the freedom to set new goals, which results in increased opportunities to fulfill those goals, as well as new possibilities for failure. Setting goals and reaching them or failing at them affects emotional development and ultimately impacts a baby’s sense of autonomy and confidence.

When a baby crawls in the traditional manner, the right and left sides of the brain and body must work cooperatively together. This action is called cross-lateral integration, and it builds a foundation for skills that require motor coordination. However, many infants get around by rolling, bottom scooting, or crawling commando-style, and that is just fine. You can always play crawling games with your child later on to provide experience with cross-lateral integration.'

When should I expect my baby to crawl? Generally around 6-10 months but this can vary from child to child.


Crawl around with your bub and show them how to crawl by demonstrating. Children love to copy.

Roll up a towel and pop it under bubs chest and arms so that will help them to lift themselves off the floor and strengthen those arm muscles.

Play a game when bubs is having tummy time. Place your palms against baby's feet and let them use your hands as a starting block to push off.

Once baby is up they usually start by practicing with a rocking back and forth motion. You can encourage movement by placing a few interesting new toys or items in front of bub to encourage movement to the item.

Walkers who havent crawled: Get some tunnels or make a mini obstacle course with areas they need to crawl under to encourage crawling. This is fun and will help strengthen the muscles and spine with crawling which in turn helps with the walking gait later.

Try clothing that is suited to your flooring. For example long pants with padded knees to help prevent sore knees if you have wooden or tiled floors.

Try different environments: Grass, sand, carpet, wooden floors.

Keep in mind babies go through different stages of crawling. They might start with commando tummy crawling moving into one leg up crawl then all knee crawling and crab crawling. Some babies also do bum shuffling. Try to get your bum shuffler back onto all fours.

As an Educator in Early Childhood I have used these tried and tested methods many times over the last twenty years with much success.

What are key gross motor milestones in the first 12 months?

3 months old baby:

- Raise the head while on the stomach. - Open and close the hands - Bring the hand to the mouth - Catch and shake objects at hand reach.

4 to 7 months, baby learns to:

- Roll back on the belly on both sides. - To pull himself to sit down - keep sitting with the support of his hands forward

At 8 to 12 months:

- sit down still unaided - crawl - use his hands when topples forward or sideways - Crawl - hold stand up - Move from one position to another - Walk aided by holding on to objects or when moving objects

What is the problem if my child skips crawling?

There will always be exceptions. Some children who never crawl will have good balance, handwriting, coordination and core strength.

One of my colleagues (Julie at a local baby clinic) who is a physiotherapist tells me that she sees many children who never crawled, coming for Physio treatment when they start school because they are...

"struggling with balance and are 'clumsy' "


"cant even stand on one leg at a time" because they have poor balance


"are struggling with handwriting" as a result of their weak core strength, not allowing them to effectively free up their upper limbs to write, and not having enough strength in their shoulder girdle muscles to effectively control their pen.

and some are

"struggling to even tolerate sitting at a desk in a chair at school."

Lumbar and spine huh?

The final spinal curve develops in the lower back and is called the Lumbar Curve. The lumbar curve starts to develop when your baby begins to creep and crawl. In order for the lumbar curve and the surrounding muscles to develop properly, give your baby as much opportunity as possible to creep, crawl, and play on his tummy. The lumbar curve provides for proper postural alignment. Your baby will complete his spinal development between 12-18 months, once he has mastered walking upright.

Spending lots of time in baby carriers, baby walkers or exer saucers and jolly jumpers are a no no. Great time saving distraction tools but should only be used for 10 minute periods at a time to help with physical development.

Obviously physical activity even when its as small as a few minutes a day of tummy time from newborn through to crawling for older bubs all helps with sleep. A double bonus with bub achieving amazing developmental milestones and extending sleep cycles.

Lots of things to think of but please do let us know if you have any questions or need some guidance on your childs development please let us know.

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