Encourage Crawling in Infants

There is nothing as heart warming as watching your child crawl across the room to try to pull your grandparents wedding china onto the floor.

Crawling is an important form of movement for infants.  It helps to build a stronger core and begins to introduce weight through the bones of the upper leg to increase bone density.  Crawling is singular in its ability to promote strength and stability of the shoulder and the surrounding muscles (which become important postural muscles once the child is standing) using the child’s own weight.  From a visual standpoint, they begin to hone their ability to maintain a smooth visual field while the head is in motion as well as work on their objects per minutes.  Reciprocal crawling also develops the ability to coordinate their right and left sides (bilateral integration).

It is typical for babies to progress from scooting backwards on their belly, “swimming ” (where arms and legs are both moving up off the floor), belly crawling (“army/military crawling”), and then reciprocally crawling on hands and knees.  This sequence cannot begin if they are never on their tummies to play, so the foundation is tons and tons and tons of tummy time.

Attempting to change the movement habits that you little one has, or challenging them to build new habits is not easy.  Yeah, very not easy.  I would encourage you to understand their frustration, empathize with them, but stay the course.  Remind yourself of your own tears every time you try to give up coffee.  Remember how tough it was to begin something you wanted to challenge yourself with, but how rewarding it was when you accomplished your goal.  So there may be some tears (some from the baby), but there should also be plenty of cheers and hugs and kisses.

Try these activities at home to encourage crawling:

1. Strong foundations – Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time. I know I said this above, but it is worth  repeating.

2. Get down and get busy – Lay, roll, and crawl around with your child.  You can make a lot of eye contact, and if you are on the floor your face can still be seen if they need to put their head down to rest, so they may enjoy being on their tummy longer.

3. Get low – If laying next to them is not enough, lay on your back, and place your child on your chest.  This is great for bonding and

4. Born free– Take them out of the exerscaucer or bouncy seat – When children do not have to move to get a toy or look at something new they won’t, which leads me to……

5. Move a toy just out of their reach – Yes, I said that you needed to be mean, and this may lead to screaming. They may just surprise you and themselves by moving towards it.

6. Try a different toy- perhaps with lights and/or music.

7. Try using your phone to motivate them -I have seen this work, just don’t let them put it in their mouth.  Ew!

8. Try changing what they are wearing- Layers of clothing can impede sensory input and get in the way of movement.

9. You are the local expert – If these things do not work, you know what motivates your child, mix it up, and then let me know, I’m running out of ideas.

10. Tummy time -which means getting them out of the bouncy chair/bumbo seat.

Resource: North Shore Pediatric Therapy Website www.nspt4kids.com