I hear it everywhere… “It’s OK if a baby skipped crawling.”
In fact…just yesterday I heard a mom say, “well nowadays, a lot of babies skip crawling!”
My response was, “that doesn’t mean it’s not important.”
If it wasn’t important, humans would have stopped crawling centuries ago.
Now tails…tails aren’t important for humans, and that’s why we don’t have them any more! (Did you know your “tailbone” is actually where the tail is attached in less evolved species?) But I digress…
II mean, have you seen how clumsy and uncoordinated most kids are these days?
Ask any elementary school teacher how hard it is to keep their students sitting up in their seats long enough to learn something. It really is a big problem! And that’s just sitting, without falling out of the chair!
Then parents from older generations say, “my baby skipped crawling, and there’s nothing wrong with him/her.”
And I hear that all the time, too, no matter what I’m advocating. Tummy time, back-to-sleep, crawling, healthy eating, not playing in the street…
You get where I’m going with this, yes?
You don’t have to “agree” with me, but I will tell you I am witnessing first hand the problems kids are facing if they didn’t crawl (and do tummy time).
Being in the field for 14 years now, I can honestly say problems with fundamental developmental skills and coordination are so much worse than it used to be!
My favorite athletic trainer and professor from college told me she has to teach “typically developing” MIDDLE SCHOOLERS how to skip and do jumping jacks! Wha???
And while this post is focused on the topic of crawling on hands and knees, tummy time is also a key component of this discussion. When babies slept on their bellies (before the ’90s), got (up to) 24 hours of tummy time, and they didn’t get hauled around in car seats and left to play in jumperoos and exersaucers all day, about 20% of them skipped crawling and turned out “OK”.
But that’s not the norm for babies anymore!
Our modern babies are missing so much “developmental” time on their tummies and on the floor that skipping milestones is actually very problematic!
Especially for preemies and babies with developmental challenges!!!! Why would we want these lovely littles to skip milestones? Don’t we want them to be as coordinated, strong and smart as they possibly can, even if they don’t “catch up” to their typical peers???
OF COURSE WE DO!
If you need more convincing on the importance of crawling, read this post before you go on:
Now, what can we do if that crawling ship has sailed already?
HOW TO REDISCOVER THOSE LOST SKILLS IF YOUR BABY SKIPPED CRAWLING:
This part is easy….get them on the floor and crawl!
It doesn’t matter how old they are or how coordinated, smart, cute or funny they are; there are still benefits from crawling at any age!
Now you may think this is crazy, but if you don’t, here are some fun activities to try:
1. Obstacle course!
Who doesn’t love obstacle courses? Build your own indoor, outdoor, or whatever! Tunnels, limbo sticks, stairs, ramps, ladders, rock walls, boulders, trees….oh my! Roll up towels length-wise, ball up some socks, throw pillows and cushions on the floor and cover them with big blankets.
If playing on these obstacles aren’t motivating enough, do a relay race or an Easter egg type search to get the competitors going!
2. Take your children to the park with the biggest, coolest play structure and tell them to stay on their hands and knees the whole time they are up on the structures!
Have them crawl down the slides face first, crawl down the steps (if they have the strength and control!), crawl up the slides (I know! Total playground faux pas when there are other kids waiting for the slide, so you’ll have to go at an off-time.)
Those indoor play places are awesome! Foam pits, ropes courses, rock walls, climbing nets, 3-story-high slides! Core galore!
3. Animal walks!
Pretend to be snakes and slither without using hands or feet; seals with hands but no feet, crabs walk sideways, bear crawls, cats and dogs, or they can give each other horse back rides. Search Pinterest for more fun animal walk ideas!
Are you with me, parents? Do you hear me cluckin’, big chickens?
This is by no means a comprehensive list of activities that help with the benefits of crawling…but if you understand what you are trying to improve, the sky is the limit of the activities that you can come up with for your kiddos that are fun, too!
My favorite “crawling” activity in the clinic is polar bear ice skating…if you have slick floors put 4 wash cloths or dish towels on the ground, one for each limb and have them “ice skate” on all fours! (Make sure they are using the correct crawling sequence–right arm, left leg, left arm, right leg. For some this will come naturally but if your child uses any other pattern, it is worth the time and effort to re-teach the correct pattern!)
**Public Safety Notice**
One of the best ways to strengthen the shoulders is crawling down steps or downhill. But PLEASE, if you baby hasn’t learned to negotiate stairs and get down from high surfaces FEET FIRST EVERY TIME, do not allow them to crawl down any thresholds face first. I don’t usually do this with kiddos under 3 years old. Young crawlers have very poor judgment and depth perception and are at very high risk of falling off higher surfaces if they are not taught to turn around and go feet first on their bellies.
Need more ideas? Just ask! Send me a video of what your child can do while on hands and knees and I’ll give you customized ideas on how to challenge them with more fun activities!
Contact me at wendy@ everythingbabies.org or any of the links below, and please leave a quick comment at the bottom of this post!
P.S. Did this post spark some questions about your littles? I would love to help you!
Besides EVERYTHING RELATED TO INFANT DEVELOPMENT (like sleeping, breastfeeding, reflux, crying, tummy time, milestones, starting solids, etc.)
I can also help you with:
- Advocating for your baby at the doctor’s office so you don’t get dismissed as “just a new mom that worries about every little thing.”
- Getting your family on board with your baby care and child-rearing wishes so you aren’t constantly fighting the when-I-raised you-and-your-sisters mother or the stop-freaking-out-it’s-fine-if-I-feed-him-ice cream husband or babysitter.
- Prioritizing your mom and baby time (or your mom and dad time) as a working parent so you don’t feel guilty or like you are screwing up your child 24 hours a day.
- Spending your money wisely on toys and gear that will improve your child’s development instead of interfering with it.
- And anything else you need support for as a parent of a newborn so YOU can actually sleep at night…even if your baby isn’t sleeping well, because I can help with that too!
You will not get this kind of support or get empowered with this much knowledge from your child’s health care team or your own doctor, therapist, partner or friends!
Invest in YOU and YOUR BABY this year!
You really have nothing to lose and so much (knowledge, confidence, happiness, piece of mind, sanity, sleep) to gain…really. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. 😉
And you can check out this link for more information on my services as an infant and development expert as well as testimonials from parents who have benefitted from working with me.
Let this momma (and baby expert) help you, momma!