The general public, and even the professional world, has mixed opinions on the importance of crawling as a developmental milestone for children. I feel strongly that this is a skill worth teaching to our children!
Almost everyone has a brother, cousin, friend, fill-in-the-blank that never crawled. If you are the parent of a 6-12 month old child that is not crawling, you've probably been told by someone that "they know Judy and Judy never crawled and Judy turned out just fine." And, they are probably aren't lying. However, crawling has many many benefits that make it worth the extra effort to encourage your child to crawl.
First, I want to take a moment to address and define crawling. At this site, crawling is hands and knees crawling. The child reciprocally (one hand, one leg at a time) advances arms and legs forward. The head and stomach are off the floor. Please take a moment and view this video:
Typically, babies will crawl between 7 and 10 months of age. Although, with the wonderful "Back to Sleep Campaign" (we can talk more about this another time), children are often acquiring skills about a month later than previous research suggested.
Here are some of the biggest, most important, reasons that all babies should be encouraged to crawl:
1. Crawling helps with fine motor skills: the weight bearing through the arms encourages strengthening of the wrists and shoulders to help with handwriting and fine motor control
2. Crawling strengthens the core muscles: the back, abdominal and neck muscles are stronger which allows for improved sitting posture and endurance in school aged children. Additionally, kids will have better balance for hopping, bike riding, etc.
3. Reciprocal crawling improves motor control and coordination by increasing the communication and integration between the left and right hemisphere of the brain: children are able to cross mid-line with control. This will help your child be able to do higher level skills that require moving both arms and legs together such as: climbing playground equipment, jumping rope and participating in sports. Being able to keep up with their peers in a few years will be important to them!
4. Crawling improves visual skills: specifically binocular vision where a child focuses ahead and then back down. Similarly to how they will attend to teachers/computers in front of them and then look down to take notes when in school.
Scooting, being forward or backward, or modified crawling (perhaps only one leg is bent) are effective in exploration of environment. However, they lack the important aspects covered above that are useful as your child continues to grow.
So, while the child that typically skips crawling will often catch up to their peers, I encourage you all to help assist your child in learning to crawl. They'll have lots of time to stand and walk, but only a short period to practice crawling. And, with all the benefits - what do you have to lose?
I would love to hear from some of you. How old was your child when they first crawled?