Crawling: An Important Developmental Milestone
Crawling is often a milestone associated with babies because it’s their main form of mobility before they can walk. Each developmental milestone is a path towards increased independence.
The first year of a baby's life is full of many important developmental milestones. Rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, and walking, just to name a few. Think of each milestone as a piece of a big puzzle, and when one piece of the puzzle is missing, then the picture is not complete.
When does the instinct of crawling begin?
The instinct to crawl begins in the womb. The Bauer Crawling Reflex appears around the third trimester until the baby is 6 weeks old, and again when the baby is learning to crawl. Crawling involves the coordination of both brain hemispheres through the corpus callosum, and when this reflex is present it activates this pathway. Crawling stimulates this part of the brain, and lays building blocks for more complex movements in the future.
Why is crawling an important milestone for infants?
It helps by strengthening the baby's muscles, for example. When babies crawl on their hands and knees, muscles in the shoulders, hips, core, and back have to work harder to support them and strengthen the muscles over time. This strength helps the infant prepare for future gross motor skills such as walking, running, climbing stairs, and participating in sports.
Crawling typically follows rolling and unassisted sitting, which are both important developmental milestones for babies. Babies typically begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months, but this can vary. It can start by looking like an army crawl, and then eventually as the baby gets strong enough to lift their belly off of the ground, they come up on to their hands and knees. They then learn to propel themselves forward using their hips and sacroiliac joints to push through their knees, which also requires a lot of muscle coordination and strength.
What are the other benefits of proper crawling?
One important aspect of crawling is that the hands and knees are hitting the ground equally. Crawling helps integrate primitive reflexes, improve coordination of both sides of the body, and increase muscle strength. If a baby is scooting their butt while crawling, it may mean that the baby started sitting too soon. Asymmetrical crawling, as in one side is working harder than the other, can lead to muscle imbalances, joint issues, and poor coordination.
What are some ways I can aid my baby in crawling correctly?
Chiropractic care can be beneficial if there are issues with crawling, such as always veering to one side, or using one leg or arm more than the other. Equal limb usage as part of the cross crawl pattern shows that the 2 sides of the brain are working well together. Pediatric chiropractors assess the motion on babies' sacroiliac joints, and having good mobility in these joints can hopefully help baby crawl more efficiently.
Good crawling starts with good tummy time. Tummy time helps strengthen muscles in babies neck, shoulders, lower back, and pelvis. Crawling can also be beneficial for sensory regulation and vision. Crawling also helps strengthen babies neck muscles, eventually preparing them for upright walking and smaller motor skills like bending and lifting.
Think of baby’s motor milestones like a story, you want there to be a smooth and easy flow, and for things to not feel rushed. Babies will engage in activities which they see as beneficial for them, so you can make crawling a fun activity but using toys and lots of smiles to tell the baby they are doing a great job! The chiropractors at ANH Wellness are knowledgable and can offer any assistance you may need. Be sure to see a pediatric chiropractor to address your child's specific needs: https://icpa4kids.com/
By: Dr. Megan Stavalone
Chiropractor at ANH Wellness
Perinatal and Webster Certified Chiropractor