Why Crawling Is Vital for Your Baby’s Development

Watching your baby learn to crawl is an exciting milestone, but sometimes babies can struggle with this skill. It may not seem like a big deal, but crawling is an important part of your baby’s overall development. My name is Macie. I’m an occupational therapist at Building Futures. I work in the Ruston and Monroe clinics, and today I want to talk about why crawling is a vital part of your baby’s development.

How Crawling Impacts Development

Crawling is so important because it not only helps your child have a method to get from point A to point B, but it also helps them build important skills that they’ll need well into the school years, such as:

  • Strengthening their core for balance
  • Building shoulder stability
  • Developing the small muscles in the hands for motor tasks such as holding a pencil, writing, and manipulating buttons
  • Building bilateral coordination skills as they’re learning to use both their right and left sides of their body to crawl across the floor
  • Building connections between their left side of their brain and their right side of their brain
  • Improving visual development and depth perception.
  • Building a sense of proprioception, the ability to understand where they are in space

Crawling Assists with Reflex Integration

Crawling is also important in helping to integrate certain primitive reflexes, which are automatic reflexes that a child develops in the womb to assist with birth and development. These reflexes are typically integrated within their first year of life and help provide the foundation for all motor coordination skills.

One example of a primitive reflex that becomes integrated through active crawling is the STNR reflex, which is important for separating arm movements from leg movements, partial control, and balance. Another is the ATNR reflex, which is important for hand-eye coordination and crossing midline skills.

Signs That Your Baby Struggles with Crawling

Some signs to look for that indicate trouble crawling include if your baby does not tolerate playing on hands and knees, isn’t crawling or prefers a different method of crawling like scooting around on their bottom. If your child hasn’t completely mastered their abilities to crawl, they may benefit from a therapy evaluation to address their crawling skills. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at Building Futures. We’d be happy to help.

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