Crawling is a challenging milestone because it is one of the most important milestones and yet it is also the most variable milestone. Some babies crawl soon after sitting and others not at all. And some babies use very strange patterns, with one leg straight out behind, while others become speedy at the typical four-point crawl. Although it is so variable, crawling is vitally important to develop shoulder and wrist stability (for fine motor skills later) as well as spatial reasoning (for math’s and spatial concepts) by crawling through and under objects.
Physiotherapist Kirsty Williams believes that the main reason babies do not crawl has to do with the floors we tend to see in homes these days. Tiles, wood and laminate are far less appealing to explore on hands and knees than something that is more comfortable. In addition, many little ones are placed in sitting devices, such as car seats, activity play centres, walking rings too early or for too long which can discourage exploration and make muscles lazy for crawling.
At Babies R Us, our Key principles are safety quality & trust – with this mind we bring you Kirsty’s top 5 Babies R Us tips to encourage crawling:
- The only way to learn to crawl is through opportunity – your baby must have tummy time and spend time on the floor playing in sitting.
- Instead of delivering all your baby’s wonderful toys to him in sitting so they are easy to reach, place them to the side to encourage your baby to explore moving over his base of support.
- Another idea is to pass the toy for him to reach a little overhead or way out in front.
- A nice idea is to roll a hand towel up and place it under your baby’s chest with either side of the roll sticking out on the sides. Lift these ends and create a hammock to support your baby in four-point kneeling. Then rock it front to back to develop stability.
- Finally, if your baby does not crawl before he walks, you should encourage crawling in the toddler years by setting up obstacle courses to crawl through with your toddler.
Crawling is the start of the busy phase and you will need to child proof your house now.
For more information on preparing for your baby's development and ideas for crawling, read the age band chapters in Baby Sense (Faure & Richardson).
Megan Faure (OTR) www.megfaure.com
Meg is an Occupational Therapist with a special interest in babies and toddlers - specifically irritable infants; sleep problems, emotional engagement difficulties and fussy feeding. Meg is the co-author of Baby Sense and the Sense-series books. Her clinical practise is in Cape Town and she consults and speaks internationally too.