Crawling provides many great experiences for your child and helps develop and strengthen other areas. If you haven’t noticed your child beginning to creep or crawl by nine months, it may be time to follow up with your pediatrician or a physical therapist.
Crawling is the first and longest period of time that your baby will be putting weight through their hands to develop strength and stability at their shoulders. This is important because it allows them to have control of their hands for other skills such as:
Playing with toys
Handwriting in the future
Being able to get themselves dressed
Crawling is considered the first form of independent movement. It helps develop and enhance our vestibular/balance system, sensory system, cognition, problem solving skills, and coordination.
Allows for independent exploration
Establishes body awareness in space so they know where they are and how to maneuver around their environment
Teaches them an understanding of movement
Builds responsibility for movement and mobility
Provides a foundation for early problem solving skills
Helps the left and right sides of their body work together for improved coordination
Helps enhance depth perception
Guides left right linear movement of their eyes which can assist with school related activities
Enhances sensory input by allowing them to move over different textures independently from carpet to hardwood, grass to dirt
To help your baby succeed at crawling start with exposing them to tummy time while playing and awake at an early age. Remember to always place your baby on their back while sleeping.
If your baby enjoys tummy time continue to expose them through play to build up their tolerance and skill set. If your baby does not like his or her tummy, keep working on it in short periods of time and in different positions. Try placing a towel under their arms to provide support so they can focus on lifting their heads or place them on your chest in a reclined position to eliminate gravity. This makes it easier for your baby to push through their arms and lift their head
It is okay to use positioning devices at various times throughout the day, but the best place to develop strength and mobility is while playing on the floor. This will provide exposure for the progression of their gross motor skills from rolling, to crawling and walking and it sets the foundation for fine motor skills and develops good core strength for speech.
For more information about Nationwide Children’s Physical Therapy services, click here.
Jen Campbell, PT, MSPT is a developmental pediatric physical therapist in the Outpatient Physical Therapy Department at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Jen is also a therapist in the Neurodevelopmental Clinic where she completes developmental assessments on patients.
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