Tag: crawling

Encouraging Crawling: Tips for a Strong Start

Once your baby starts showing interest in being mobile you might be tempted to rush them through the crawling stage and start to encourage them to get up and moving on their feet, but our physical therapists recommend not rushing this important milestone and instead encouraging the crawling stage as it provides your kiddo with so many benefits you may not have considered.

Walking takes strength, why does my baby need to crawl before they walk to develop their strength?

It’s true that learning to walk will require your baby to build their leg strength, but what about all the arm strengthening they’re missing out on by not crawling first? Crawling is not only the first time your baby puts significant weight on their hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, but also the longest amount of time they’ll spend developing these muscles. Muscles that will later be used to feed themselves, play with toys, color, and dress themselves. The muscles in their legs and core will also strengthen during this time, which will make transitioning to walking even easier.

You need postural control to walk, why can’t my baby learn both at the same time?

While your baby could learn postural control while they tackle the task of learning to walk, crawling will provide them with more stability and practice while they gain the postural control skills required to walk properly. Crawling requires your baby to engage their core muscles to support their body weight which is essential for maintaining an upright posture when standing and walking.  

Since my baby has great hand-eye coordination when sitting and playing with toys, why do they need to crawl before they walk?

Good hand-eye coordination is an important skill for babies to learn, but coordination of their limbs is necessary for crawling, walking, and more advanced movements. Crawling encourages babies to learn how to simultaneously move their arms and legs in a coordinated manner, which helps control their balance, which in turn improves their ability to maintain appropriate posture when they eventually begin to walk.

My baby recognizes themselves in the mirror and engages appropriately with their play mats and stacking toys, what more awareness and motor planning do they need to walk?

Crawling helps babies establish their body awareness within space safely, so that they can learn how to maneuver around their environment with minimal risk. It helps to teach them an understanding of their own movement, and helps enhance their depth perception, so that when they begin walking, they will be less likely to trip, fall, or run into things.

My baby gathers information about their surroundings whether they’re in a highchair, on a playmat, or in my arms, doesn’t that make them ready to walk?

Some of the most important information gathering and processing skills that your baby gains through crawling are done by sensory exploration and multisensory integration. Crawling allows babies to explore their environment through touch, sight, and sound. While they touch different surfaces and textures, they are learning to integrate this sensory information with their motor planning to adapt to various terrains and surfaces as they grow.

Tips for Encouraging Crawling

  • Practice tummy time early and often.
  • Use play mats and play gyms.
  • Create a safe and open space for exploration.
  • Babyproof their environment.
  • Focus on floor-based activities.
  • Invest in crawl through tunnels.
  • Avoid walkers and exersaucers.
  • Offer motivating toys.
  • Provide interaction and praise.
  • Be patient.

Author’s Note:
The valuable insights and information shared in this article were provided by the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development’s pediatric physical therapist Rachel D’Arcy. Rachel’s extensive knowledge and experience in pediatric physical therapy was instrumental in crafting the content of this piece.

As a nationally recognized pediatric facility, the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays, and acquired injuries. Our goal-oriented approach maximizes each child’s ability to function independently within the community.

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