hsg crawling baby

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Does My Baby Need to Crawl?

  • Get on the floor with baby! Babies love faces and may enjoy tummy time more if mom or dad are in front of her talking or singing.
  • The more your baby practices crawling, the more the connections between the right and left sides of her brain become stronger.

Many parents wonder about the importance of crawling. Is it necessary for their child’s development? What do you do when your child loves to stand or does not enjoy tummy-time activities? Here are five reasons why it is a good idea to encourage your little one to spend time crawling before walking.

  1. Building Strength and Stability – When your baby learns to push up onto his hands and knees, he is learning how to hold his belly off the ground against gravity. Holding this new and challenging position helps strengthen the muscles not only in his tummy but also in his back, neck, hips and shoulders. His “core.” The more core strength a baby can gain when moving on the ground, the more control he typically will have as he begins to walk. Additionally, by putting weight on his shoulders while crawling, your baby is creating more stability in his shoulder joints. Stable shoulders help promote better control of fingers and hands for such things as picking up pieces of food and, when older, handwriting skills.
  2. Coordination – When a baby begins to crawl, she is working on something called bilateral coordination. This means she is learning how to coordinate movement on both sides of her body. As she moves her right hand forward, her left knee must follow to keep from toppling over. The more your baby practices crawling, the more the connections between the right and left sides of her brain become stronger. This will build a foundation for your child as she grows and learns other skills that require coordination such as catching, throwing or kicking a ball, clapping or riding a bike.
  3. Depth Perception – When your baby learns to move on his own, he begins to understand how far away or close something is depending on how long it takes him to crawl toward it. Learning distances helps develop depth perception. Good depth perception means your child will better understand the different environments in which he is learning to craw and move more safely.
  4. Decision Making and Spatial skills – As an adult, you know how to slow down to move around an obstacle or stop before plowing down a set of stairs. As your baby begins to move on her own, she must learn to move around objects instead of through them. She also needs to learn where her body is in relation to other objects or people in the room (spatial awareness). The more your baby practices spatial awareness, the more she learns how to avoid getting hurt, use stairs, and figure out the best path to their favorite toy.
  5. Preparing the hand – When you think of crawling, your first thought may not be on how it helps your baby’s hand, but it does! When your baby pushes up onto his hands and knees, he begins to stretch and exercise the muscles in the wrist and hand. New movements at the wrist help your baby move his fingers, which in turn allows him to pinch his thumb and fingers together to pick up a piece of food or point with their index finger. Additionally, crawling helps develop the arches of his hand, which helps him grasp toys of different shapes and sizes.

Tummy time

If your child does not enjoy spending time on her tummy, it may feel like getting her to crawl is impossible. Here are some tips to promote tummy time with your little one:

  • Tummy time is not only spent playing on the floor but can also be done while baby is being held. Hold her facing you on your shoulder or lay her on your chest while you are resting on the couch.
  • When on the floor, place a rolled kitchen towel (lengthwise) under his chest with his arms forward to help make spending time on the floor during tummy time a little easier.
  • Get on the floor with baby! Babies love faces and may enjoy tummy time more if mom or dad are in front of her talking or singing.
  • Place a mirror in front of baby during tummy time so he can see himself (another face!) and use favorite toys to keep him engaged. As he gets closer to crawling, move his toy a little out of reach to encourage him to move forward and start the early stages of crawling.
  • Finally, although it’s not specific to tummy time, allow baby to spend time on the floor instead of in swings, bouncers, exersaucers or Bumbo® chairs. Although these are great for short times when parents need a safe place for baby, they don’t encourage movement. When on the floor your baby gets practice kicking, rocking and moving freely. These activities, repeated many times, help build strength and coordination. She will soon be ready to roll, sit and move on her own.

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