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Crawling and Your Baby’s Development

Babies will begin to crawl around on all four limbs before they move on to walking, running, jumping etc. As the first gait of humans, crawling is a movement brought about by the synchronized movement of knees and hands. Babies begin to crawl when they are around 6 – 10 months, which is also the time when they are able to lift themselves on their limbs.

Crawling is an immensely beneficial milestone in a baby’s development journey. It not only helps develop the strength of the baby, but also develops the baby’s sense of balance and equilibrium. A crawling baby is also homing his or her gross motor skills. To some extent, the act of crawling also helps in the visual and sensory perception of the baby.

Development of gross motor skills

Gross motor movement involves movement of large muscle groups like the limbs and the body. A crawling baby is actually using the strength of the limbs involved to move forward, which, in turn, helps develop the trunk and the limb muscles. Crawling helps strengthen the muscles and also provides balance and stability for those still developing limbs.

How crawling helps in fine motor skills

Encompassing the refinement of hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills is essential for control over the small muscles of the body. Fine motor skills lead to manual dexterity. Besides helping the child to pick up and grasp objects, fine motor skills will help the child in future when he/she needs skills like writing, drawing, sewing and cooking.

Spine Alignment

When a crawling baby’s body is lifted from the ground by those little limbs, the action helps develop and strengthen the spine; which later eliminates problems related to the posture of the child. This indirectly explains why a baby who is an active crawler would be most unlikely to have spinal or posture problems.

Visual Development

A baby, when crawling, automatically engages in a technique called ‘binocular vision’. This technique involves the constant movement of eye from the floor to the direction in which the little one is moving towards. Constant adjustment in the range of vision works as a training ground for future skills of reading and writing.

Crawling safety

It’s important to consider what kind of environment your baby is crawling around in. While babies have mobility on the floor, they have a unique view of the world that mom and dad might not realize. The floor becomes a source for learning and development, but it also becomes a potential danger zone. These are some tips on how to make sure your baby has the capability to crawl, learn and develop, while doing it in a safe and secure environment.

Variations in crawling styles

Rocking back and forth/jerking ahead while on the limbs is common among most babies. Some babies cross crawl, similar to the normal walking style (left arm-right leg and vice versa), while some use the coordinated style (right hand-right leg). Among other styles are the bum scoot (moving forward while sitting upright) and the crab crawl (using both arms and a leg). Some prefer moving around on their tummy using just their hands (Commando crawl) to pull themselves ahead while others employ the leapfrog crawl, which is leaping rather than crawling.

Did you know?

The right hemisphere of the human brain controls the left half of the body, while the left hemisphere controls the right half of the body. Crawling employs movement of either limbs in tandem, which is the cross-lateral integration that requires the right and left side of the brain to work in cooperation. When the baby crawls, motor nerve impulses are interchanged between the two hemispheres of the brain at an incredible rate. This helps develop the neurological routes of the child, which helps perform complicated tasks later on in life.

Keep the floor clean!

As responsible people, we generally like to have a clean home. The cleanliness of the floor especially becomes more important when you have a crawling baby in the house. A walking baby can be protected with socks and shoes, but a crawling baby has his skin, mouth, and nose much closer and possibly in direct contact to whatever’s on the floor. Possible traces of toxins and dirt that can cause sickness.

As busy and hectic a parent’s life can get, the cleanliness of the floor is crucial. Regular sweeping and mopping of the floor can help keep it free from dirt and anything that can be accidentally chewed or swallowed. Just because you can’t see it standing up, it doesn’t mean your baby won’t find it on the floor. Make sure you keep your carpets vacuumed too, especially if your baby is crawling on it. If you have pets that shed, you might need to vacuum more often. If given the opportunity, babies will put anything, including a dust bunny, in their mouth!

Note: Many floor cleaners contain toxins that can be harmful to your crawling baby, so be sure to use a safe, non-toxic cleaner.

Get Down To Baby’s Eye Level

Although we were once babies ourselves, it’s unlikely that we even remember what the world looks like eight inches off the floor! If you want to be able to see things from the same perspective your baby does, you’ll have to actually get down on all fours and have a look around. From that perspective on the floor, you should be able to identify any potential dangers.

Keep an eye out for exposed electrical outlets, electrical cords, and other potentially hazardous objects. Once you have identified all those hazards, baby proof them at once, and do not put it off for later. Outlets should be equipped with child guards, and cords should be kept out of reach or secured to the floor. This will keep your baby from getting shocked from outlets, tangled up in cords, or have heavy objects pulled from a table onto their heads or limbs.

Crawling babies will eventually learn to pull themselves up, making low tables, cabinets, and other surfaces easily accessible to them. Consider the potential dangers of things on low surfaces. If an item of furniture can be toppled over easily, secure it to the ground or to the wall. Crawling babies eventually get around the house very quickly, so you also might want to consider gating off a specific area that you do not want your baby to get into.

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