Is crawling still important for the developing baby?
‘It doesn’t matter if your baby doesn’t crawl.’ Or ‘Crawling isn’t even considered to be a developmental milestone anymore. So it does not matter.’
I find it quite alarming that this kind of talk is even creeping into health care and parenting advice. If crawling wasn’t necessary for healthy brain development, it simply would never have featured as a typical part of our developmental journey. We have not stopped being human. Our original design has not suddenly started to change. Yes, there are lots of babies who either do not crawl, or they adopt a really strange crawling style – but this does not mean that it isn’t important. I know – my son is one of those babies who had an atypical style and he’s the reason I got into this field of work. He didn’t crawl cross-laterally. He pushed himself around backwards, everywhere and when he did eventually crawl, he dragged one leg out to the side. He struggled at school and he has really struggled to learn to drive.
If a baby does not develop the capacity to crawl in a cross-lateral way – i.e. right arm forward, left-knee forward, left arm forward, right-knee forward – there will be most likely be neurological implications, further on. There will also be a reason, their nervous system is not able to process this movement pattern. Unless we address the reason these glitches occur, we’ll increasingly believe that our children’s difficulties with learning and thriving are acceptable and ‘normal’. If more and more babies are not crawling – we should be asking the question ‘Why not?’ and ‘Why does it matter?’
Not only is cross-crawling important for the developing infant, but it is also important for healthy brain function, through-out life. Crawling is one of the most critical stages in our development, both physically and neurologically. It is so important it is one of the most important features of rehabilitative therapy, in many fields.
Having to co-ordinate our opposite arms and legs in a synchronised controlled way, develops myelination between the two hemispheres of the brain – so we have good access to the resources and skills they each have to offer. We need the communication between the two hemispheres to be really strong and well established in order to truly thrive.
Top 5 benefits of crawling
- Developing whole brain function – essential for cognitive development. This will be essential for learning to read, write, spell and carry out mathematical learning. Having access to both our creative side as well as our analytical side ensures balance in our function. Many challenges that people face, can be traced to poor communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.
- Developing core stability and control and over all coordination. Left, right, separation between upper and lower body, coordinated walking, running, etc in the next stage. It develops healthy muscle tone and control throughout – head, neck, arms, spine, hips and legs. It also develops the muscle tone in the hands and feet. So not only is it important for gross motor coordination – it plays a significant role in the fine motor development, as well.
- Visual and auditory development – near and far (accommodation) as well as depth perception. – Essential skills for learning to read and write, ball skills, spatial awareness and learning to drive as an adult. With further development of auditory and visual processing, crawling can, in turn affect our capacity to focus and concentrate later on.
- Enhances other sensory systems like; vestibular and proprioception, balance.
- Developing an understanding of boundaries, risk taking, confidence building.
If your child did not crawl cross-laterally, reflex integration therapy will help to find the answers as to why this happened and help to restore any missing building blocks.
What if my child never crawled?
You can still repattern the body and brain, through cross-crawl patterning – no matter how old you are. Cross-crawl patterning is also hugely helpful in the recovery process when you have been stressed or traumatised. It helps to ensure the energetic flow and connection in your system is as it should be. You can create opportunities for crawling, through games, brain breaks and fun, at any stage. A little and often, is the key, to get the brain’s attention.
If you’d like to know more, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org